The Legend of the Michigan Dogman
Steve Cook was a Traverse City radio DJ and wrote a song based on accounts he had heard about a strange creature known as “Dogman.” He thought it would be a great April Fool’s prank and let the song debut on April 1, 1987. What followed was not what he anticipated. Listeners called into the station with their actual reports and sightings of what has come to be known as the Michigan Dogman. It wasn’t just an April’s Fool’s joke to them. These people had actually seen the creature.
The legend claims the Dogman appears on the 7th year of every decade in the Northern woods of Michigan (and it would seem all over the state and Wisconsin too!) If you’ve had an encounter with our lovable, cryptid canine, send me a message. A few reader submissions and encounters that have been sent to me over the years are below.
Lyrics and story by Steve Cook
A cool summer morning in early June, is when the legend began, at a nameless logging camp in Wexford County, where the Manistee River ran.
Eleven lumberjacks near the Garland swamp found an animal they thought was a dog. In a playful mood, they chased it around till it ran inside a hollow log. A logger named Johnson grabbed him a stick and poked around inside. Then the thing let out an unearthly scream and came out and stood upright.
None of those men ever said very much, ‘bout what ever happened then. They just packed up their belongings and left that night, were never heard from again. It was ten years later in ’97, when a farmer near Buckley was found. Slumped over his plow, his heart had stopped, there were dog tracks all around.
Seven years passed with the turn of the century, they say a crazy old widow had a dream, of dogs that circled her house at night that walked like men and screamed. In 1917, a sheriff who was out walking found a driverless wagon and tracks in the dust, like wolves had been a stalkin’. Near the roadside, a four-horse team lay dead with their eyes open wide. When the vet finished up his examination, he said it looked like they died of fright.
In ’37 a schooner captain said, several crew members had reported a pack of wild dogs roaming Bowers Harbor. His story was never reported. In ’57 a man of the cloth found claw marks on an old church door. The newspaper said they’d been made by a dog, he’d a had to stood 7’4”. In ’67 a van-load of hippies, told a park-ranger named Quinlinn, they’d been awakened in the night by a scratch at the window, there was a dogman looking in and grinning.
In ’77 there were screams in the night, near the village of Bellaire. Could’ve been a bobcat, could’ve been the wind, nobody looked up there. Then in the summer of ’87, near Luther, it happened again…at a cabin in the woods it looked like maybe, someone had tried to break in. There were cuts around the doors that could only been made by very sharp teeth and claws. He didn’t wear shoes cuz he didn’t have feet. He walked on just two paws. So far this year, no stories have appeared. Have the dogmen gone away? Have they disappeared? Soon enough I guess we’ll know, cuz this is the time to fear, for another ten years has come around, the seventh year is here and somewhere in the north-woods darkness, a creature walks upright. And the best advice you may ever get is never to go out….at night.
A friend of mine was driving to 7/11 late at night when a strange hunched back, large mangy creature ran across the road. The road is called Hospital Road in Waterford. The creature ran into the woods and we couldn’t see it when we stopped. This was no normal dog. If it was a coyote then it’s the biggest coyote I’ve ever seen…no this was much bigger, with a huge head and looked like it just crawled out of the deepest pits of hell.
In the summer of 2010, I went camping with some of my friends at their cabin near Shelby, Michigan. Some of their cousins came too, so the night after we got there, I was sitting by the fire telling one of them a ghost story. We were right next to a little creek and on the other side of it, a huge, “ghostly” white dog ran by, like it was chasing something. I thought it might be someone’s runaway pet, but this thing was huge. It was the size of a black bear and it was built like a wolf. So we went across the creek as soon as the wolf thing was gone to look for tracks or anything. We didn’t find anything, even in the wet mud.
Later that night, after everybody else went to their own campers (yeah, we were staying in campers even when there’s a cabin right there) it was really late, about three in the morning, when the camper started shaking so violently it woke me up. I heard a really low, deep growling right outside the window I was sleeping under. Then the camper started shaking again, and the eerie growling continued. I knew it couldn’t be storming out because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky before or after that night. When we got back home, we found scratches that looked like claw marks about seven feet off the ground right above the window.
In 1998 or 1999, my husband and I had driven through Bristol, IN. Not far from Southern Michigan. It was dark and I think it was Dec. there was snow on the ground. We were driving fairly slow due to the snow. Off to the right side of the road in a distance, we saw an animal standing near the side of the road. It was looking at us as we drove closer. As we got closer we could see that it was smaller than a cow or horse. But it was bigger than a dog. It was not a deer or a bear. Its eyes reflected as we got closer. We could see it was dark in color. It appeared the back legs were shorter than the front. When we were almost up to it, it turned and walked away. Not fast just a casual walk. But it was so dark we couldn’t see once it was out of the view of headlights. We always wondered what it could have been. I even though maybe a Wolverine but it was too big. I never heard of the dog man before tonight. I saw a show on Destination America. Maybe we finally have an answer.
After reading this website and shortly after reading the Dogman article, something hit me from about 5-7 years ago when I was in high school. We are surrounded by woods in Algonac. During winter time I and some friends of mine would mess around in the woods and just have fun, it was also a shortcut to the school. One week while cutting through the woods we found a deer that looked as though it had been ripped in half along the trail we took. I didn’t think much about it at the time but now after thinking a lot about it, it didn’t look like a human could do it unless he was The Hulk! It was ripped right in half with the entrails all over the place. It looked fresh but I never thought anything of it.
During the few weeks, we would be out in the woods until night time and just messing around having bonfires and fun, but I also felt like something was always watching me out in the woods. Not sure since it was about 5-7 years ago and I honestly think I might have seen shadows moving in the tree lines. I know for a fact Coyotes have been spotted in the area but whatever ripped that deer in half was no Coyote.
On 4/24/2011, my wife and I were on our way back from the store when “IT” came lumbering across the road on all fours. It was three times the size of our old 140 pound German Sheppard. After it cleared the roadway it stood and traveled across the bean field on two feet. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen this creature. A few years ago, it was eating out of our dog’s food bowl behind our house under floodlights. Looked like a giant wolf that even a large dog (the 140 lb Sheppard) didn’t command its attention. The creature had an oily smell to it. The sheriff was called out and I was instructed to shoot it on sight as if it was a feral animal. Occasionally I’ve seen big cats in the area out bow hunting and this was definitely not a cougar. I don’t bow hunt anymore without packing a pistol!
July 2009 I borrowed my father’s Chevy Diesel truck to help my sister move. My father lives 10 miles SE of Fennville, MI. It was around 10:30 PM when I was on 118th street East of 58th when I saw a small herd of deer emerge on the right side of the road. I slowed way down when I saw them. Instead of crossing, they all perked their heads and stared across the road, but there was nothing there. At this point, I was about 200 yards away. I slowly approached the deer waiting for them to cross. I was about 50 feet away when “IT” came out from the tall weeds on the left-hand side. It was on all fours but it looked like it was crouched on all fours.
It was chocolate brown, had a bushy long tail (German Sheppard-like) Its fur was shaggy and unkempt and it had pointed ears, a wolf-shaped head and it was baring its large pointed white teeth. My dad’s truck is a large Duramax diesel pickup truck. This thing was crouched on all fours and its shoulder blades were still the same height as the driver side window. It was looking down at the ground (probably because of my hi-beams) as I passed by it. This is the only time in my life when I felt my life was in danger. I immediately hit the gas and took off. I told my father what happened and of course, he laughed. Then he said, “I guess it could have been a wolf!” He’s lived out there for 25 years. That area by Ely Lake has always felt creepy and menacing to me. The image of this thing is burned in my mind so I can draw a picture. I can also pinpoint on a map where I saw this thing.
Our family of five lived in a small two-room cabin in Michigan. One night my parents had gone out and had an older cousin of mine stay with my younger brother, sister and me. We always had dogs growing up – mainly St. Bernard’s & large dogs. It was pretty late at night, my siblings were asleep and my cousin and I were eating ice cream and watching a movie. All of the dogs were out on their chains. First, we heard the neighbor dogs going nuts, barking and growling for a few minutes. Then our four dogs were doing the same. The sounds were hair-raising! In the window across the room, both of us saw a very, very tall, hair covered creature peering in at us. It was standing on two legs and looked unnaturally giant- like. It made very low but audible strange noises. We were both so scared that we could not move. Tears poured from my widely open eyes. I have never been so scared or uncomfortable in my whole life!!
My friend and I decided to take a bike ride one night, up near Luther. We had just reached a little bit down our road and she suggested turning onto one of the twisting dirt roads next to us. I agreed, and we started down it. Our flashlights were already dim, and when hers went out, we turned around. I suddenly heard a crack and shone the flashlight in that direction. I caught sight of a man, for my flashlight only reached the bottom of him. I heard a growl and then it moved, disappearing. We raced home, but my friend refused to believe that we’d seen the Dogman. But I was convinced we had.
It was spring of 2010 when my friends and I decided to go out for a walk about 12 at night. We left the house and proceeded to walk across a highway and over into the country. After losing track of time and walking for hours and what turned out to be about 6 miles both ways, we came to a road that ran very close to highway US 131. I and one friend were a couple hundred feet ahead of the other, when we got into the middle of the street, very close to a ditch and a small marsh on the other side. After walking into the middle of the road underneath the street light, we heard a very loud and deep growling and snarling. The snarling was followed by loud thumps and thrashing about in the weeds and tall grass. Right when we heard this, we both ran as fast as we could in the opposite direction until we were about 400 feet away and had a clear view of the area.
Keep in mind that we were both armed with several knives and a spear, which we brought in the case of coyotes which are a big problem here. Even being as armed as we were, we instantly knew we didn’t stand a chance against whatever made the noise. After running back to get out of harm’s way, we stopped and just listened as quietly as we could. We could hear distinct thumping footsteps and something being smashed around and water moving. After a couple minutes without any further noise, we proceeded back towards it, which was the only way home. As we got closer we could hear the same noises start up again and more thrashing around. We ran back again, repeating this process several times until we heard it run off into the brush. We ran pretty much all the way home. I have heard plenty of coyotes before and never before heard anything like what I did that night. I have never been that scared in my life.
Michigan’s Otherside: I couldn’t help but chuckle and raise an eyebrow when the writer mentioned they were armed with “several knives and a spear.” So we asked them where the hell they lived that they had to go out armed for battle with coyotes. Here was their response:
Hi there, I live in Portage, which is in southwest Michigan and it’s not so much we have to worry about them (coyotes), we’re just teenagers with overactive imaginations.
It was about eight years ago when a couple friends and I were out shining a field off of Summit City road in Kingsley, Michigan. We shined towards the field coming down the road and turned around to shine it again we hit the middle of the field and something stood up and started to run towards us very fast across the field! I hit the gas and there were about 200 yards of field between us and it. It stood up and started to run toward us and when I hit the end of the field, it was 20-30 feet away from the side of the truck. I looked down and I was at 60 mph. Very scary. I never look back and never went back and that goes for all of us in the truck.