the Hell out of the Beast
Part Three: Weird Traits and Dates
Now let's take a look at some of the other physical characteristics that make Shuck what he is, and see how the individual legends and encounters match up to the mythology.
Once again, not an overwhelming endorsement of Shuck's legendary physical traits. Neither having a shaggy coat nor dragging a chain are particularly paranormal attributes - although as far as the latter is concerned, I suppose it somewhat depends on just how big the chain is! Most witnesses seem to describe a light chain, or hear the 'light, tinkling dragging of a chain', which could, especially in times past, have been the dog's lead (if it were a real dog mistaken for a phantom.) Apart from one instance in the 1960's, chains haven't been reported since World War Two. I find it rather amusing that, in one of the legends where the dog has a chain, it's also headless!
Speaking of which, although there are 6 legendary headless paracanines, and 6 recorded encounters with such, all the encounters come from only 2 of the locations mentioned in legend, namely Mistley in Essex (in the 1960's), and Barnby in Suffolk (in the 1930's.)
The characteristic of invisibility inevitably leads to the question: if it was invisible, how did anyone even know that it was a dog? The answer usually comes down to hearing panting close by, which the witness associates with a dog, or hearing a soft pad-padding on a road that is 'known' to be haunted by a paracanine. In some cases, the creature is visible to the witness only, and not to others nearby. Although not widespread, invisibility at least is recorded in encounters fairly evenly from the mid-19th century through to the early 21st.
Other weird traits crop up from time to time in accounts, such a floating dog in the early 20th century and another in the early 1980's, "sparks, and the sound of gravel" from a dog in the 1970's, shrinking to the size of a cat in the 1930's, growing in size in one case from the late 19th century, and possibly changing into a small flock of birds in 2005.
In those last two cases, the beast apparently changed its shape, which otherwise only occurs in the legends (7 instances.) A 19th century encounter led to the air being alive with 'waving flame' when a cart touched the creature, while a dog seen in about 1921 had a 'luminous glow' around it.
All of the details recounted up to now seem to tell us that, by and large, the more overtly-paranormal aspects of Shuck have lessened over time, with the Second World War probably being a watershed, as it has actually proven to be in so many areas of recorded folklore.
Deciding when some of these encounters actually took place is, in fact, not always an easy matter. Many of the accounts are rather vague, and although I've made an attempt to pin them down, with some I just can't get any closer than the century in which they seem to have happened. Nevertheless, I've done my best with the 179 cases on this site, and the results are below:
And the more detailed breakdown: