Mysterious Michigan: The Michigan Dogman

near Copper Harbor

1930, Paris, MI: Robert Fortney is fishing on the Muskegon River near Paris, MI. A pack of wild dogs suddenly come out of the woods. Fortney fires his gun and scares them off, except one, a large black dog that stands up on its hind legs staring Fortney down with glaring eyes. Fortney shoots again and the creature retreats into the woods.

The Michigan Dogman was allegedly first witnessed in 1887 in Wexford County, MI. The cryptid is described as seven-feet tall, bright eyed, upright-walking canine with a human torso and terrifying howl that sounds like a human scream. Sightings have been reported throughout Michigan, including the Ann Arbor area, but primarily are clustered in the northwest Lower Peninsula.

1986, Manistee, MI: Ray Greenway is driving home late at night. His headlights reflect off the eyes of something in the field along the road. The eyes too high off the ground to be a deer. Whatever the creature is, it runs towards him and incredibly leaps clear across the two-lane road. “I do remember that I saw both eyes, as if it was looking at me, the whole time,” Ray later said. “That, along with the leaping ability, is what I will never forget.”

“Dogman”, the mere mention of the name was enough to strike terror into … well … nobody really because no one had heard about the creature until the late twentieth century.

1987, Traverse City, MI: Disc jockey Steve Cook of WTCM records and plays a song titled “The Legend”, which is intended as an April Fool’s Day joke. He had never heard of the Michigan Dogman at the time of the recording. “I made it up completely from my own imagination as an April Fools’ prank for the radio and stumbled my way to a legend that goes back all the way to Native American times,” he explains.

Steve Cook didn’t realize at the time the effect the song would have. Sightings of a bipedal dog/man began pouring in from all over. Since then, thousands of dogmen have been reported in 38 states and countries from Norway to Brazil. It rivals Bigfoot, the Holy Grail of cryptids, in sightings.

1998, Bristol, IN: A person wishing to remain anonymous tells the story, “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 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 thought maybe a Wolverine but it was too big. I never heard of the dog man before tonight … “

2011, Algonac, MI: A person wishing to remain anonymous tells this story: “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 … 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! … 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 …”

2015, Ann Arbor, MI: A person wishing to remain anonymous reports, “It was late at night, after a small barbecue/party, at my uncle’s farm, miles north of Ann Arbor. I was coming out of the barn to get some more food when I heard sticks breaking in the tree line to my right … About 7 feet off the ground, a long muzzle poked through the trees. Followed by the full-figure of this creature. It was only 20 feet away from me, so I got the full picture. It was tall and lean but very muscular. It had a distinct brown pelt on its body, with blackish fur on its shoulders. It had huge paws for feet, but its hands looked like they had 5 fingers, so they resembled long human hands, except for the fur and claws on them. Its head was the scariest. This thing had a huge set of canines. It looked like it was snarling, but I believe it was trying to smile … my father, uncle, cousin, and grandfather all came out of the barn … It turned around, dropped to all 4’s, and leaped into the forest, making only a slight noise.”

It is easy to dismiss such stories as the imaginings of nut-jobs or the result of impairment. Our logic minds flip through a rolodex of extenuating factors: tricks of light and shadows, stress hallucination, disorders of one kind or another, a need for attention, or just flat out lying. But not always. Sometimes the story is what it is. The following two instances happened just as they are told. These are my stories. I have no penchant or patience for cryptozoology, nor was I impaired.

2003, Pictured Rocks, MI: It is dark. I’m alone at Mosquito Beach backcountry campground. Something obviously bipedal stands nearby looking up the pole where I’ve hung my food. I can only make out a tall black shape. The pole clinks and the form drops to all fours, bolting past my tent. My first thought is, “That’s the biggest dog I’ve ever seen.”

near Copper Harbor

2000, Copper Harbor, MI: My son, Larry, and I are driving down Brockway Mountain Lookout in the early morning to catch the ferry to Isle Royale. A black shape darts across the road, stops, rises upright, and glares at us. I snap a picture but my hands are so shaky it blurs. The creature drops and disappears into the trees. Larry and I look at each other. “Holy crap,” one of us says.

I had never heard of the dogman until last year. Up until then, I thought these were just weird encounters with bears. It is not difficult to retro-imagine them as dogmen, now that I’ve heard the idea.

And that is the real mystery here: Why do we let our minds be so easily hacked?

I saw bears.

The supernatural is what you make it.

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