What makes the urban legend of the Michigan Dogman so compelling is its plausibility. There have been far more sightings than Bigfoot, who is practically the poster-creature for cryptozoology. While there’s talk of supernatural origin, there are also more scientific animal-based theories for this creature’s existence as well. Dogman sightings began in Michigan and then spread with descriptions varying slightly, but the core characteristics remained intact. This can be expected with any growing, migrating, and evolving species.
Dogman sightings usually occur deep in the forest, around logging camps, and out on isolated roads late at night. The mythical beast of backwoods folklore went mainstream in 1987 after the release of the song "The Legend," written by Traverse City radio DJ Steve Cook. Cook pulled lyrics from Dogman encounters and soon more people reported their sightings. But what are these witnesses actually seeing? Is it mass hysteria or a real creature? Let's explore the history of this cryptid, and the various horrifying encounters people have had with it.
In the fall of 1986, out near Manistee, Michigan, Ray Greenway was driving home from the Manistee Army recruiting station. It was late at night, and he noticed something in the darkened field beside him. His headlights were reflecting off what appeared to be eyes, but they were much too high off the ground to be a deer.
Suddenly, the unidentifiable creature began running towards him and made an incredible leap, clear across the two-lane road. “There is no animal that it could be. I know that this was not a deer,” Ray later recalled. He went on to describe its yellow eyes and impossible leaping ability. “I do remember that I saw both eyes, as if it was looking at me, the whole time. That, along with the leaping ability, is what I will never forget.”
In 1887, the first known Dogman encounter was documented in Wexford County, Michigan. Two lumberjacks were out in the woods when they spotted a creature they described as having the body of a man but the head of a dog.
Other sightings began to trickle in throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and locals found dog tracks in the dirt around several dead horses. The horses allegedly died of fright.
One witness claims a creature best described as a werewolf (or Dogman) was stalking up the hill behind their house in the late fall of 2001. “My stepdaughter and I were looking out the French doors to see a creature... black in color, like a big bear with haunches and the head of a wolf.”
While that was the first and only visual the Cass County, Michigan residents experienced, they can still hear it splashing around the 20-acre swamp land at night. Sometimes they can even hear it shrieking. According to them, “It has the scream of an infant... Loud and hysterical.”
Back in the 1860s, the Cheyenne established their own group of warriors known as the Dog Soldiers or Dog Men. Native Americans would spend years studying or becoming one with their spirit animal, taking on the mannerisms and strength of wolves or wild dogs.
Allegedly, all the Cheyenne Dog Men were killed off by the US Army. According to lore passed down from the elders, however, not all of them died. According to legend, some of the Dog Men actually shape-shifted into dogs and now roam the woods and swamplands.
It’s worth noting that while all witnesses of these half-dog, half-man beasts admit to feeling terrified, there haven’t been any known deaths or serious physical attacks attributed to a Dogman. This is thought to be because of the Indian belief that one must invite evil unto themselves. Therefore, the creatures cannot harm you unprovoked.