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I had the weirdest dream last night! I was living in a luxury penthouse (like that’s ever going to happen!). Not “Donald Trump” luxurious, but still pretty darn acceptable. I looked out my huge expanse of windows, and saw bombs going off, and planes going down, and tidal waves crashing into the shoreline. I understood that it was my job to save the world, so I grabbed a Bic pen, a red bandanna and a bag of peppermints – all the things I needed to stave off Armageddon (Hey, it was a dream, okay?) and headed off for the elevator to take me down to the lobby.
Trouble was, as soon as the elevator doors opened, I was confronted by a huge, dog-like beast, at least two stories tall, with blazing red eyes and about a hundred razor-sharp teeth. I closed the elevator doors, went back up to my penthouse to find whatever it was I needed to destroy the creature, and then found myself outside the building, falling to my death. Whereupon I woke up.
I have no idea what that dream meant. If you have any thoughts, leave them in the comments section.
Maybe I should “talk to someone,” which seems to be the current euphemism for “visit a shrink before you become a danger to yourself and others.” I dunno.
Anyway, unlike most dreams that dissipate like mist on a warm morning as the sun begins to come out, this one stayed with me, and I started thinking about giant dogs, or dog-like creatures. I wondered if they had a place in legends and myths, other than the best known of them – Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell.
I was surprised to learn that many cultures have fearsome, giant dogs in their folklore. Here are some of these terrifying animals, presented in alphabetical order.
No, an Adlet is not one of those tiny little pop-ups that appear on websites, blocking the content you want to look at and annoying the snot out of you until you close them out. Adlets are creatures from Inuit mythology, and sometimes also referred to as “Winter Cannibals.” And Adlet’s lower body is that of a dog, and its upper body is human.
When an Inuit villager ventures too far outside the community at night, they might end up eaten by Adlets, of which there are five. The Adlet originated when a village girl who lived with her father refused to marry any of the villagers that her father selected for her. She said she’d rather marry a dog.
Eventually, she did just that. She and her dog husband had ten children, five of which were perfectly ordinary dogs, and five of which were the blend of man and beast known as the Adlet. The girl’s father grew tired of feeding the entire litter, and devised a plan to get rid of his grand-beasts. He moved his daughter, her dog husband, and the litter to an island, and told the dog that he would leave bags of meat on the shore each day – the dog would have to swim to get food for his family.
Instead of leaving meat, though, the crafty father filled the bags with rocks. The dog was unable to swim holding the rock-filled bags, and drowned trying to take what he thought was food to his family.
The girl was beside herself with grief, for she had come to love her dog husband. So she ordered the Adlets to swim ashore, and chew off her father’s feet and hands. Then, unable to bear their resemblance to her beloved husband, she sent all her children into the wilderness to fend for themselves. The Adlets are still out there, hungry and waiting for human flesh.
One of the most common Central American folk tales involves Cadejos, which are spirits that take on the likeness of dogs. White Cadejos are helpful spirits, but black Cadejos are malevolent. There are also perfectly ordinary dogs that are born of Cadejos. But wait for it – it’s also believed that there is a black Cadejo that is actually the embodiment of the Devil.
Black Cadejos come out on nights when there is no visible moon, and they hide in alleyways, waiting for unsuspecting humans to enter. Then, the black Cadejos steal their souls.
Cadejos cannot be killed, and if you encounter a black Cadejo, your only hope is that a white one will show up to protect you. Black Cadejos are described as giant dogswith red, glowing eyes. Instead of paws, they have hooves.
According to a legend from Guatemala, one night a drunk man was walking home, and he was accosted by robbers. A creature that he thought was a giant dog saved him, leaping upon the robbers and tearing them to pieces. The drunk man thought that the “dog” was his friend, and allowed the animal to accompany him home. Once they reached the man’s doorstep, the “dog,” which was actually a black Cadejo, fell upon him and ripped him apart.
Also known as the “Harbinger Ghost,” this creature is believed to have originated as a legend in Suffolk. Initially, Black Shuck wasn’t exactly a “bad doggie.” On the contrary, he was possessed!
Legend has it that a man who owned a dog named Shuck was travelling home through the Suffolk County marshes one night, when evil-doers set upon him and drowned him. The man’s soul sought vengeance, and possessed the nearest available body – his dog, Shuck, who was waiting patiently for his human to come out of the water so they could both go home.
Over the years, the drowned man’s rage grew, and finally, Shuck’s body had to grow to contain that rage. The dog grew to the size of a horse, and his eyes blazed red. To this day, it’s said that Shuck’s angry, baying howl can be heard across the marshes when the nights are foggy. Sometimes, though, Shuck is quiet, and that means that you won’t be able to hear him if he sneaks up behind you.
We go again to the British Isles for the story of Cu Sith, a huge, dog-like animal that lives in the highlands of Scotland. The Cu Sith is as big as a calf, paws that are even bigger than a man’s hand, massive teeth and green fur.
Legend has it that these giant dogs are in the service of the fairies. The fairies send out a Cu Sith to capture a nursing mother, and bring her to their home in the highlands, where she will live out her days nursing fairy babies.
Fairies are apparently willing to give you a chance, though. When the Cu Sith begins to hunt, he howls three times. If you can get indoors before the third howl, the Cu Sith will let you go – even though he could still take you if he chose. You have to move quickly, though, because before he begins to howl, the Cu Sith will have crept up very quietly upon you, out of the fog.
Not many nursing mothers escape the Cu Sith when he’s on the prowl.
Also known as “Half Beasts,” giant dogs known as HuayChivos lurk in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. According to Mayan legend, the HuayChivo is the result of a deal that a sorcerer made with the devil. The sorcerer drank goat blood as part of the ritual, and then was able to transform himself as a creature that was a giant mix of a dog and a goat.
You won’t see these giant dogs when they approach, but you’ll know when they’re there, because the air will suddenly get very cold, and you’ll get a stench of something that’s very much like rotting garbage.
The HuayChivo is actually one of the less dangerous of the creatures that look a lot like giant dogs, because if you don’t look at it, it can’t hurt you. So, if you think you’re being stalked by a HuayChivo, resist the temptation to look behind you!
The Inu-gami are giant dogs that are also gods, and sometimes also appear as a cross between a large wolf and a human. These creatures originate in Japanese folklore, and there’s nothing nice about them. In fact, they’re known for horrific acts of violence.
The Inu-gami is not troublesome if left alone, but the problem is that wealthy people summon them, and then use them for evil purposes. The people who summon these creatures are evil in and of themselves, because the method for summoning an Inu-gami is horrific – it involves burying a small dog to the point where only its head is visible, and leaving it to starve. When the dog is almost dead, food is placed just out of reach. Then, when the dog moves its head to reach for the food, the person summoning the Inu-gami cuts its head off. The Imu-gami is then released from the spirit world, and under the command of the person who summoned it.
If there’s anything good here (assuming that you believe that any of this could be real) it’s that Imu-gamis are known to turn on the people who summon them, and tear those people to pieces.
Also sometimes referred to as the “Night Stalker,” the ModdeyDhoo is a black spaniel that haunts Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. Legend has it that in 1670, one of the castle guards had a bit too much to drink, and decided that he didn’t have to go with the “buddy system,” which was the usual protocol for locking up the castle gates. Instead, he decided to do it alone, presumably so that he could get back to drinking, or go pass out.
Other guards were waiting for him to come back. Then, they heard sounds of someone struggling, but they were too afraid to investigate. The drunken guard came back, white-faced and shaking. He died three days later, never having uttered a word.
The Panhu is also known as the “head taker,” and is a creature that is part of the folklore of the Yao people in southwest China. The Panhu is said to be the father of the Yao race. As legend would have it, the emperor’s wife was complaining of an earache, and when the royal physician examined her, he found a golden worm inside her ear. He took the worm out and placed it under a gourd.
I don’t know why he did that, but bear with me.
The worm grew and flourished under the gourd, and developed into a huge dog that became the pet of the emperor (a little hostility toward Mrs. Emperor here, perhaps?) The emperor named him Panhu.
Anyway, eventually the kingdom came under attack by another warlord. The battles went on and on, and finally, pretty much out of options, the emperor set forth a decree – anyone who could bring him the head of the attacking warlord could have his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Panhu said, “I can do this!” and he set forth into battle, returning with the warlord’s head in his jaws. The emperor was grateful, and offered the beast his daughter’s hand in marriage. Then, Panhu told the emperor that if he could be placed under a bell for seven days, he would be re-born as a man.
The emperor agreed, but the princess was overly eager – she raised the bell on the sixth day, and found herself with a husband who was part man, and part giant dog. She apparently decided that wasn’t such a bad deal, and she married the creature. Their children formed the Yao race.
How scary does a creature that’s also known as the “Seven Headed Firebeast” sound? This creature comes from the mountains and hills of Brazil and Paraguay. TejuJagua is a god with the body of a lizard, and seven dog heads. Believed to have been born to Tau (The Evil One), this beast lives in a lovely forest where the streams flow with honey. His eyes shoot fire, and merely looking at him will cause you to go blind. When he becomes angry, he roars, and earthquakes are the result.
These are all, from where I sit, pretty scary creatures. Some resemble nothing more than giant dogs with fiery eyes, whereas others are combinations of dogs and other creatures.
I’m not sure what it was that I saw in my dream, but for sure it was just as scary as the giant dogs and dog-like creatures I’ve just introduced you to. It seems as though dogs in myth and legend aren’t always benevolent creatures – in fact, they can be terrifying.