Creepy Cryptids: The Michigan Dogman
Growing up in Michigan has afforded me a lot of connection to nature – the beaches and their lakes, rivers, sand dunes, and incredibly expansive forests. The forests, however, have historically given me the creeps. Any time I’ve ever spent in forests – hiking, camping, even walking in my backyard – has normally ended with my skin crawling and an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. When I’m in the woods, it always feels like I’m being watched. Like something is carefully tracking me, waiting for…something. Now, this could be me sensing any number of animals in the area. It could be the result of reading too many ghost stories or tales of true crime. Or, perhaps, it’s because I’ve been reading about the Michigan Dogman since I was a kid.
***It should be noted that there are supposed Dogmen all over the country. This post will focus solely on the Michigan variation of the cryptid.***
There isn’t a whole lot of information regarding where the Dogman came from or why it’s here. The most common mythos is that the Dogman appears in years that end in 7, going through a ten-year cycle. Most legends also state that its stomping ground is near the Manistee River and that it has been there since the Odawa tribe of Indigenous People resided there.
Descriptions of the Dogman vary from sighting to sighting. Typically, it is described as a seven foot tall dog-human hybrid. It can walk upright or all fours, but most reports mention it walking on two legs. The dogman has dark fur covering its body, though its torso is reportedly more human than canine. Another point of contention between the sightings is the eye color – some say blue, some say amber.
The vast majority of any cryptid case lies in the sightings of it. The Dogman is usually sighted in the northern part of the lower peninsula (fingertips of the mitten). However, sightings dot the western side of the state as a whole. Let’s look at some specific sightings.
The first encounter with the Dogman seems to have taken place around Wexford in 1887. A group of lumberjacks were approached by the dogman. They mistook it for a wild dog (how??) and chased it into the nearby woods, where it hid in a log. Generally acting like asshole kids, the lumberjacks began poking the dogman with sticks. Until it let out an eerily humanlike scream and bolted.
Chronologically, the next big encounter took place in 1937, near the small town of Paris. There, a man was fishing on the banks of a river when a pack of wild dogs began advancing on him. He shot a gun into the air to scare the pack off. All but one dog retreated after the shot, apart from one. The straggler then stood on its hind legs and stared the man down. He reported it had an intense gaze and piercing blue eyes. He fired another shot at the creature, and it retreated back into the trees. It is not reported whether he believed he had hit the creature or not.
The biggest piece of (supposed) evidence of the Michigan Dogman has come to be known as the Gable Film. It is a short video that allegedly shows the Dogman advancing on the person filming. A man named Mike Agrusa shot the video when he was vacationing in northern Michigan when he was young. Because this piece of film was shot in the 1970s, it is grainy and low-quality. Though believers hail the film as proof of the Dogman’s existence, Agrusa has admitted it to be a hoax. (And, I mean, really? It looks like a person under a blanket. Guys. Come on.)
Is it possible that there is a dogman or a race of dogmen running around the fields and forests of Michigan? Sure. The woods are dark and deep, so it would not surprise me to find out that there are things hiding in them. Do I think it’s likely? Not so much. A lot of the sightings seem to be unreliable at best and thinly veiled creepypastas at worst.