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The Padfoot or Padfooit is a monstrous shapeshifting Black Dog found in Leeds, England.


The Padfoot's name comes from the padding sound it makes as it walks behind someone.


The Padfoot, like the Oschaert and the Shriker, is a shapeshifting monster whose favorite shape is that of a giant black or white dog, walking on two or three legs. However, it can also manifest as a demonic sheep with burning eyes or an enormous black donkey. Sometimes the creature can be seen, and at other times is invisible, but is always accompanied by the sound of roaring or dragging chains. Sometimes people who see the Padfoot die of fright, and at other times it is an omen of death. If a person attempts to beat off the Padfoot, the creature will attack and maul him.


The tradition of the Padfoot seems to have originated with the old practice of sealing up a live animal, usually a boar or dog, to act as a guardian spirit for a churchyard.


Then, in Yorkshire, the villages around Leeds have a nocturnal terror called the Padfoot. He is described as about the size of a small donkey, black, with shaggy hair and large eyes like saucers; and he follows people by night, or waylays them in the road which they have to pass.

A certain Yorkshire woman, called Old Sally Dransfield, the carrier from Leeds to Swillington, is a firm believer in the Padfoot. She declares that she has often seen it—sometimes rolling along the ground before her, like a woolpack—sometimes vanishing suddenly through a hedge. My friend, the Rev. J. C. Atkinson, of Danby, speaks of the Padfoot as a precursor of death; as sometimes visible, sometimes invisible, but ever and anon padding lightly in the rear of people, then again before them or at their side, and uttering a roar totally unlike the voice of any known animal. Sometimes the trail of a chain would be heard, accompanying the light quick pad of the feet. In size it was somewhat larger than a sheep, with long smooth hair. It was certainly safer to leave the creature alone, for a word or a blow gave it power over you; and a story is told of a man, whose way being obstructed again and again by the Padfoot, kicked the thing, and was forthwith dragged along through hedge and ditch to his home, and left under his own window.

A man in Horbury has lately seen "the Padfooit." He was going home by Jenkin, and he saw a white dog in the hedge. He struck at it, and the stick passed through it. Then the white dog looked at him, and it had "great saucer e'en;" and he was so "flayed" that he ran home trembling and went to bed, when he fell ill and died. The "Padfooit" in this neighbourhood is a white dog like a "flay-craw." It goes sometimes on two legs, sometimes it runs on three. To see it is a prognostication of death. I have no doubt that "the Padfooit" is akin to the two white sows yoked together with a silver chain which ran down the church lane in Lew Trenchard, Devon. It was the custom in ancient times to bury a dog or a boar alive under the cornerstone of a church, that its ghost might haunt the churchyard, and drive off any who would profane it, i. e. witches or warlocks.

-William Henderson, 1879

See Also