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Who’s a good boy? Not the Michigan Dogman.

man in a wolf costume
The first recorded sighting of the Michigan Dogman came in 1887 from two loggers in northern Michigan. This (ficitonal) picture of the creature is from more modern times.

He was seven feet tall with glistening eyes of blue or yellow and a terrifying, humanoid howl. He looked like a man, but also had the qualities of a canine-like creature. He was the Michigan Dogman. 

Rachel Clark with the Michigan History Center walked us through the legend and sightings of the Michigan Dogman, which date back to the 1800s.

The beast has been on the minds of Michiganders for the last 130 years starting in 1887. That's when two lumberjacks saw a creature they described as having a man's body and a dog's head. According to legend, the Dogman appears to humans in a ten-year cycle that falls on years ending in the number seven.

“So, the early reports are usually of men working in the woods who encounter this beast during their time there. And then over the years, it’s a lot of times people who are again alone, either on an isolated road or the woods,” Clark said. “Their encounters are very similar though. They do talk about this beast coming out of the woods, it is very agile, it jumps in front of their car or in front of them. It scratches at their houses or their tents.”

Most of the original reports came from logging camps. In the 1870s, Michigan was the leading white pine lumber producer in the nation. These encounters have been said to scare people to death. Someone recently called OnStar reporting that Dogman ran in front of his car—causing it to flip over.

Some say the existence of Dogman was proven in what's known as The Gable Film. Mike Agrusa was a young boy in the 1970s when he supposedly captured a video depicting what appears to  be Dogman during a northern Michigan vacation. Since the viral video was released, Agrusa has admitted it was a hoax. That hasn’t convinced dedicated Dogman believers, though. 

The legend has also been used as a reference in pop culture. In 1987, a Traverse City radio station recorded a song titled "The Legend," recounting the Dogman’s historical whereabouts. In late 2011, filmmaker Rich Brauer released a film titled Dogman.  

Clark says that she will not confirm or deny reports of Dogman, especially since Michigan forests have diverse wildlife which can house surprising creatures.

“For a long time, there were stories of large cats in Michigan that were sort of dismissed,” Clark said. “And now we have cougar sightings. There’s been quite a few in the last few months. So I’m not saying there’s a Dogman that’s going to show up. However, who knows what’s living in the forests of Michigan.”

This post was written by production assistant Catherine Nouhan.

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