Saurr, the Dog King of Trondheim
Region of origin: Trondheim, Norway
When King Eystein of Oppland conquered nearby Trondheim in the early ninth century, he sent his son Onund to be their new ruler. Not a beloved king, Onund was killed by his subjects, and Eystein gave them a new choice: they could be ruled by his slave Thorer, or his dog Saurr (”Shit”). They chose the dog, thinking it would be a shorter rule. And it did prove to be so, Saurr was lauded upon by the people of Trondheim for several years, until a pack of wolves attacked the royal cattle, at which point Saurr was encouraged to do his duty as both ruler and hound and protect the herd, which resulted in Saurr being torn apart by the wolves. One of several dog-kings mentioned in the epics of Scandinavian folklore, there were some claims Saurr was imbued “with the wisdom of three men” and would speak in a mixture of human words and barking.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 20, 2016
Region of origin: Wales
One of the Cŵn Annwn, the hounds of the Welsh version of the Wild Hunt folklore, Dormarch or Dormarth belonged to Gwyn ap Nudd, lord of the fairy folk who had at some point acquired him from the Gweynedd king, Maelgwn Gwynedd. He was said to live among the clouds and, after battles, he would descend to the earth to collect the souls of fallen warriors and bring them to join the Hunt.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 19, 2016
Region of origin: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States
Per local legend, Stiffy Green was in life the loyal companion to florist and philanthropist John G. Heinl who, when his master passed on, resigned to wait at the mausoleum, refusing food and water until he wasted away and passed himself. The bulldog was then taxidermied and left inside the mausoleum where it was visible through a small window in the door where visitors could peer in and see his eponymous shining green eyes. Since then, there have been reports of disembodied barks in the graveyard late at night and apparitions of the late Heinl taking his beloved dog for a walk. In reality, Stiffy Green is and has always been a concrete statue Heinl owned that was left to decorate his burial site. In the 80s, the mausoleum was vandalized and the dog’s right eye shot out with a pistol, so he was moved and now resides safely in the Vigo County Historical Society.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 18, 2016
Region of origin: Arctic regions around Canada and Greenland
A spirit from the folklore of some Inuit tribes, the qiqirn is a massive dog that is hairless except for its extremities. Preferring solitude in remote locations, the long hair on its feet will sweep away any tracks it might leave in the snow, making it difficult to track. It’s said humans or dogs who get too near a qiqirn enter into fits and convulsions, giving the qiqirn a chance to get away. Contrarily other tribes’ folklore have a similar or identical hairless dog spirit, the keelut, who will hunt humans out in the wilderness and has become associated with imminent death and the consumption of corpses.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 17, 2016
Region of origin: Devon, England
A variation on the United Kingdom’s numerous Black Dog stories, the Yeth- or Yell-hounds appear as large, headless dogs but in actuality are the spirits of unbaptized children who had died; now bound to roam the moors of southern England, hunting similarly-fated souls to turn them into more Yeth-hounds. These spirits will wander the woods and swamps at night making loud, mournful cries which serve as a death omen, with anyone who can hear them said to die within three weeks.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 16, 2016
Region of origin: China
The “Heavenly Dog,” Tiangou is a massive black dog who lives in the sky, often depicted as a meteor. During solar eclipses, it was said Tiangou had eaten the sun, and the deity Zhang Xian was then charged with shooting him with arrows until he spat it back out.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 15, 2016
Region of origin: Scotland
A ghostly hound in the employ of fairies, the cù-sìth is a large dog about the size of a calf. Swift hunters, they were often used to retrieve the souls of the recently deceased, but would also steal away living women who were nursing and bring them to the fairy realm where they would provide milk for the children of powerful ancestral class of fairies, the daoine sìth. They were able to hunt in perfect stealth and silence, but would let out three baying howls their intended quarry could hear from across great distances; if the person could not reach the safety of their home by the third howl, they would be engulfed by a terror that could drive them mad or to their death.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 14, 2016