The Dogman Legend
There’s one perfectly terrible way to keep your kids up at night: Tell them the legend of The Dogman. He’s been sighted all over Michigan, walks on his back legs, and leaves a path of fear everywhere he goes. He’s also got a song that tells his tale. Listen to this, in the dark, lights off, outside on your back deck, if you dare. Bring a blanket to hide under.
The legend goes like this – a huge canine-like animal was spotted walking upright in 1887 in Wexford County in Michigan. They say the loggers who saw him never spoke about it again – they packed up their bags and left that night, and were never heard from again… “he walked like men and screamed” – and left “claw marks on an old church door, he’d a had to stood 7-foot-4.”
See? I should stop this article right here. It’s broad daylight and I’m getting spooked!
Those are direct lines from “The Legend” – a song about the Dogman that gained a huge following in Michigan when Steve Cook, a disc jockey at WTCM-FM in Traverse City, wrote and recorded the song as an April Fool’s joke in 1987. He said he simply wanted to create a Northern Michigan creature, like a Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot… but it was no joke. People started calling in their sightings – and Cook realized he’d touched on something that was a little too real. He has said he received over 100 calls from people in Michigan with sightings of their own!
According to legend, the Dogman appears every 10 years, with a new sighting arriving on years ending in 7. (Cue the next sighting in 2027!) According to the song, The Dogman has been seen all over the state, in places like Buckley, Bellaire and Bowers Harbor.
In 1917, a sheriff who was out walking found a driverless wagon and tracks in the dust, like wolves had been a stalkin’.
Near the roadside a four-horse team lay dead with their eyes open wide.
When the vet finished up his examination, he said it looked like they died of fright.
Cook went on to sell his infamous song on cassette tape for $4 each.. He’s donated all proceeds to local animal shelters. Over the years, “The Legend” has raised an estimated $50,000 for charity.
Nowadays, WTCM plays the original “The Legend” song religiously come warm summer evenings – to the total thrill of Northern Michigan listeners. Cook has since updated the song, adding two more verses – years 1997 and 2007. Cook has been quoted as saying he’s heard enough “sightings” that he’s not sure what to believe!
I can attest to this, though: He’s spawned a generation or two of firm believers, though! I have ALWAYS turned off the song whenever it came on the radio, from 1987 to present day. My sons, now ages 18 and 20, would ALWAYS screech in protest. Nothing they liked better than to be terrified to their bones, strapped to their car seats.
There have been others who have given their take on the legend – Traverse City filmmaker Rich Brauer has produced Dogman films, others have created documentaries and some claim to have “proof” – such as this old hard-to-see-film that has been dubbed “The Gable film” – a reference to the name of the man who recorded it. (Honestly this is kind of spooky – don’t watch it with the kids!)
Regardless, take a listen, watch the films and remember the parting line of Steve Cook’s song, says it all: “Somewhere in the north-woods darkness, a creature walks upright.
And the best advice you may ever get is never to go out….at night.”