Recently I hooked up again on Facebook with an old friend, Alison Truesdale. Alsion happened to refer to a ‘ghost dog’ she’d seen as a child so naturally I pounced on this and asked for more details. It was not a story I’d heard before.
Alison’s adventure took place in broad daylight (‘around midday or early afternoon’) at a country park in Flintshire, North-East Wales, called Wepre Park (Parc Gwespre). Wepre Park is an interesting mix of mature woodland, ruined ancient industry, overgrown gardens and parkland from a long defunct mansion and at its southernmost end, a medieval castle. A river runs through the park, connecting the various points of interest.
Wepre has long had a reputation for ghosts. ‘Nora the Nun’ is the name given to a ‘Grey Lady’ seen hearabouts (although there is no evidence of a nunnery ever being on the site) and there are tales, too, of spectral dogs, the spirits of those interred in the old pets cemetery belonging to the now demolished Wepre Hall. (For an example of one of the witty headstones, see the inset photo). However, the apparition seen by Alison and her father may have had more in common with the traditional Black Dog-type spook. Anywway, here is Alison’s story:
“I saw the ghost dog in Wepre about 20 years ago. I was about 10 and I was walking through the woods with my dad. We were on the far side of the stream, right up the top of the hill near to the old brewery. We came to a clearing where the rangers had cut down all the trees, so it was basically a big square field full of tree stumps and piles of logs. I saw a dog run into the clearing, then run to the left and back into the woods. A few minutes later he reappeared and ran towards us.
“I wasn’t bothered by it at first, but my dad could probably read dogs’ facial expressions better than I could, and he thought the dog was coming to attack us. My dad bent down to pick up one of the branches that were piled up on the floor, to fight the dog off with – but by the time he stood up, the dog was gone. I remember the dog was taking really big bounds and it looked like it was going to jump up at me. I took my eyes off the dog for a second and then it just wasn’t there anymore.
“We were in the middle of a clearing so there was nowhere for it to have gone. It just vanished. I thought it was hysterical, but my poor old dad was quite freaked out by the whole thing. I do wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t looked away: I might have been the first person to get eaten by a ghost dog!”
I asked Alison to describe the animal. She replied: ‘I don’t know what breed of dog it was. It was a stocky muscular thing, a bit like an Alsatian but with quite a wide face, if that makes sense. I remember it being dark brown, but I asked my dad and he said it was dark grey not brown. It was scruffy though, it looked rough and knotty, like it needed a bath and a good brush.’
I was intrigued by the description of its having a wide face, and tentatively mentioned the word ‘mastiff’ – most Black Dogs are said to resemble this breed, but they usually have shaggy rather than smooth coats. Alison searched the net and found a photo of a dog that best resembled the hound she and her father encountered (I reproduce it below). It’s a ‘Tibetan mastiff’, a broad-faced breed but with a fairly shaggy coat – see it in the dark with glowing red eyes and you have the classic ‘Gwyllgi’, the Welsh version of these fascinating spectres!
But perhaps it was, after all, just the frisky spirit of ‘Morgan’ or one of the other spooky pooches buried in the pets cemetery. Whatever its origin, it’s an intriguing story and I am grateful to Alison for allowing me to reproduce it here.