Breathitt’s Demon Dog

By Stephen D. Bowling

Many strange and unusual stories have been told around Breathitt County through the years. With time, some became so embellished that they are almost unbelievable, and others have passed believability long ago. One of those stories that bordered on believability appeared on page 7 of The Elgin Review in Elgin, Nebraska, on March 26, 1909.

Legends of wild dogs, white and black, were once very prominent in the mountain of eastern Kentucky. Many can be traced to old European legends of dogs in Germany, England, and other regions. Learn about other “demon dog” legends.

The article appeared as:

Happened In Breathitt County.

Breathitt County News

Strange but true. An officer of this commonwealth, while en route for the purpose of executing some papers, crossed the river at the mouth of Bowling’s Creek and saw something white about the size of a small dog sitting on a log that was rafted. He shot at it, and immediately it became large and long and roped itself around his horse’s neck, and after wearying for some time, and not being able to extricate himself and horse, he determined to go back home. It loosened from his horse and returned to the log again in the form and size of a little white dog.

What he saw has never been explained. Unusual stories of the unexplained are a part of Scotch-Irish culture and came with the first settlers to the mountains. Similar stories can be found in other lands too. Tales and warnings of large, black dogs have also evolved into legend in the mountains and beyond.

In various cultures, these wild dogs exist- in Japan- it’s called the Okuri-Inu, in England, it’s the Mauthe Doog, in Central America, it’s Cadejo, and in China, it’s a black flying dog called Tiangou. The tradition may date back to the old Greek mythology of Cerberus, the guardian hound of the underworld.

An artist’s concept of the Chinese Okuri-Inu from the Yokai Wiki.

In 1952, another wild creature roamed Breathitt County, killing dogs and other farm stock. Theories included that the animal was a wolf, a wolverine, or any variety of other animals. It was eventually killed on John Little’s Creek and identified. Yet, the mystery of the little white dog remains unsolved.

The name of the officer who saw the dog never appeared in the newspapers or is known in local circles. There is nothing mentioned in The Breathitt County News for that March 1909, so we have no local story that may have provided additional information. We will most likely never know the full details.

So many questions remain. What was it? Where did it come from? The most important question, in my mind, would be, “Where is it now?”

© 2022 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Unexplained and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Breathitt’s Demon Dog

  1. Boyd Hopkins says:

    What was killed on John Little’s creek?


  2. Harold holbrook says:

    Enjoy all your articles. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: A Breathitt County Curiosity | Bookie on the Trail

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