I am a fan of folklore, so of course I am attracted to the idea of seeing a giant hairy cryptid in the background of a photo I took, or seeing one run across the road when I am driving down a lonely highway some night. If it just so happens to be the Dogman of Michigan, then I’m still on board.
Today’s post is about that very Dogman. I am going to be brief, but hopefully these sparse details give you a good look into the often weird times had by Michiganders in the Mitten. Well, at least the weird times when people meet sasquatch for brunch and aliens come to dinner.
The first sighting of the Dogman in Michigan was in 1887 in Wexford County. Allegedly, two lumberjacks “saw the creature whom they described as having a man’s body and a dog’s head.” Certainly, this would have been an alarming sight, considering loggers in California wouldn’t spot bigfoot tracks until 1958; and, yes, I know there were much earlier sightings of bigfoot, but the modern “U.S. concept of bigfoot can be traced quite directly to the Humboldt Times stories in 1958” (Little).
A Michigan Radio article states that many of the first reports of the Dogman came from lumber camps, as “Michigan was the leading white pine lumber producer in the nation,” and lumberjacks in Michigan at the turn of the century (1870s) were certainly known for working, drinking, fighting, and working/drinking some more. It might be very well possible that working that hard and drinking that hard could create visions of monsters lurking in the shadows, and, why not? Drinking and exhaustion are a noxious combination.
But there were other sightings, too:
“In 1938 in Paris, Michigan, Robert Fortney was attacked by five wild dogs and said that one of the five walked on two legs,” states the National Paranormal Society. “Reports of similar creatures also came from Allegan County in the 1950s, and in Manistee and Cross Village in 1967” (Cryptozoology).
Similarly, it is interesting to note that sightings of the Dogman poured into a Traverse City radio station in 1987 (WTCM-FM) after disc jockey Steve Cook played an April Fools Day song called “The Legend.” I can only imagine it was like a catalyst of sorts, as Cook claimed to have received over 100 reports of Dogman sightings in the years following; and, even with the knowledge that the song was an April Fool’s Day joke and The Gable Film (undoubtable proof) was a hoax, the belief in the Dogman has persisted.
I am not entirely sure what to make of the Dogman exactly, but I believe that it represents the unknown that creeps in the forests of Michigan. The Upper Peninsula, for instance (where so many early sightings took place), is a natural wonder…and a different world. There are stretches of land up there that go on for miles, untamed, unmanaged—alien to even Michganders. In those uncharted places, the Dogman could easily rise from our imaginations and stand on two legs, whether we are under the influence of alcohol, or just staring off into the woods after a hard day’s work.
Cryptozoology, in. “Dogman – The National Paranormal Society.” The National Paranormal Society, 29 June 2015, national-paranormal-society.org/dogman/.
Little, Becky, and History.com Staff. “How the Bigfoot Legend Began.” HISTORY, A&E Television Networks, 22 Jan. 2020, history.com/news/bigfoot-legend-newspaper.
Staff, Stateside. “Who’s a Good Boy? Not the Michigan Dogman.” Michigan Radio, 1 Nov. 2019, michiganradio.org/offbeat/2019-10-30/whos-a-good-boy-not-the-michigan-dogman.