I remember when I was very young growing up in Sooke, Vancouver Island, I used to play alone in our 2 acres of woodland. I always knew there was something with me, I familiarized it with a dog, but it was not until much later that I found it was more than just a figment of my imagination or some "invisible friend" that children tend to materialize.
I was about twelve years old living in Powell River, BC, the first time I saw it. Me and my best friend were walking around the trailer park she lived in, situated beside the woods. It was late, about eleven at night, and we were excited her mom let us take a walk by ourselves. As we rounded a corner we noticed that there was a gathering of a few of the local cats all making quite a fuss. As we approached the next corner where they were, we turned to look in the direction they were facing. About 4 lots away was an empty one on the corner, sitting right beneath the street light was a huge black dog. We both didn't really believe our eyes, so we kept walking. My eyes were transfixed; I just wanted to get closer. It did not fade away until very suddenly as we approached about 4 meters to it. We both had no idea what it was, but were very intrigued. I haven't heard any stories from her of it since.
But I have a different story. Ever since then I have seen him periodically. Being a small town, I felt quite safe walking home alone, or taking strolls in the moonlight. Often I would catch him out of the corner of my eye, or I would sit and stare at him for some time before he vanished. I didn't think too much of him, I always enjoyed his presence. When I read up on the infamous "Black dogs" I heard much about bad things. So I was never really sure what he was. As I researched I got many different names, like "Black shuck" and the one "Padfoot" that really stuck (unfortunately after that harry potter movie you'll never find information by researching that name again HAH!)
When I was about 16 was when I was sure he was more of a guardian. My boyfriend at the time seldom walked me home. He would make up excuses why not to, and as I didn't really feel there was much danger, I would usually take the allies to avoid main streets housing drunken boys or cops wondering why you were out past dark. I'll admit the pitch black allies were creepy, but what was I afraid of? Well, after a few months of this walking home alone, one evening I realized I wasn't alone. I could feel someone walking beside me, a dog. I have a real dog of my own at home, and it was the exact same feeling. Slightest brush up against my leg. The soft breathing. Often I'd even hear the click of his nails on the tarmac. But he would only stay through the portion of the walk that was completely black. When the street lights appeared and the ally ended, I'd turn and see a shadow disappearing back into it.
I began to enjoy the company, but was VERY alarmed one time when my boyfriend called, right after he had walked me home one of the few and far between occasions, in distress. He said after he'd said goodbye to me and turned back into the ally he felt something following him. He walked faster and it sped up. He got an overwhelming bad feeling and began to run, and it started to make these awful howling noises that were completely otherworldly! He was so scared he didn't know what to think. He said as he ran out of the ally and turned to see what was there he just saw a shadow disappear back into it. Honestly, all I could do was laugh and tell him that was who had been walking me home safe all these months, and it was angry with him. That was just my speculation, but it truly sound like it may be the case.
I now live and work in Vancouver BC and I have seen this Padfoot a couple times. Often in allies (like the one my door faces). I will sit outside by myself for a cigarette and if I feel unease, I will ask if he's around, sometimes I can make out the clear shadow of him in the garden or in front of the hedges in the ally. One occasion I hadn't seen him in some time, it was during the day, I had been talking to him a bit (sounds crazy, but sometimes I think maybe if he's really watching over me he might be listening). I went about my usual house chores and as I walked into the bathroom the MOST pungent aroma of wet dog I have ever smelled filled the room. I felt almost paralyzed. The closest dog to the house I rent in is across the street, our land lady doesn't allow animals.
So I was just left smiling and thinking, he must be listening.
If anyone else has any friendly stories of these elusive 'black dogs' please comment! It's really hard to find any information on them.