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Artwork by Linda S. Godfrey 2017

Flight of the Mid-Michigan Dogman

Could a dogman travel from tree to tree in a snowy woods? That is what appeared to happen in a 2016 incident according to a report from a Michigan man in 2016. And this was only the beginning of his sightings of upright, wolf-like creatures. Between February and October of that year, he had no fewer than three encounters with creatures he said reminded him of a werewolf. The woods where this occurred are thought by local residents to be filled with ancient Native American burial mounds. Indeed, local historical records tell of a massacre of Potawatomi people by a rival tribe there in 1642.

The geography of the area also helps support the possibility of large cryptids there. Montague, a city of about 2500 people, lies only about four miles from Lake Michigan. Its wet and woodsy habitat is perfect for predators looking for food or a good hideout. To the east lie wide swaths of forest land, and an hour to two hours to the north and west are the known Michigan dogman sighting areas of Big Rapids, Luther, Baldwin and others.

The writer’s own words tell the tale, with only a few minor edits. He did not give me permission to use his name, and my accompanying sketch is my own artist interpretation of the large, wolf-like head he describes in his report:

Hello Linda. I live in a town called Montague here in west Michigan. About an hour to hour and a half as a crow flies southwest of both Big Rapids and Reed City. I live with my father on the family farm that sits on 30 acres of woods, creek and marshlands.  All of my encounters have come this year [2016] from February to about a month or so ago [October].

The first came on or about the eighth of February [2016] at approximately 3:52 am.  A heavy winter storm was hitting the area with some nasty weather. I was up early to get a jump on the snow shoveling, so the driveway was accessible for the propane delivery guy later that morning. As I was about halfway down the driveway I heard a loud splash in the creek to the south about 25 yards away, thinking it was a deer or two I had jumped. I stopped shoveling and scanned the creek and wood line for any movement.  As I scanned the creek I came to the wood line and saw this pair of yellow/amber eyes about 7 1/2 to 8 foot tall standing right next to a huge oak tree.

It took off with a super burst of speed to the west, it then leapt into the air and all I heard for the next few seconds was the tree tops clanging against one another. It was like it was riding the treetops.  I stood there for the next few minutes questioning my sanity. For the 6 to 7 seconds I saw this creature it stood 7 1/2 to 8 feet tall, stood on two legs that looked like a dogs hind legs. Big wolf like head, with a snout and ears that resembled that of a German Shepard, and those eyes of yellow/ amber in color.

SIGHTING TWO

The second sighting came on or about March 24, at approximately 2:38 pm. I had decided to walk up the creek and clear brush. I always carry a firearm with me on these occasions. I had gotten about 450 yards up the creek that flows through entire acreage of the property, it was strange to me how completely quiet or as I say “dead” the woods were. I always jump something up whether it’s a deer or turkey or ducks that are always there. I didn’t even hear any birds which was really strange. I rounded a bend in the crick when up ahead about 55 yards is what looked to be the back of a black bear that was digging into the bank of the crick.

As I was setting my firearm down on one of the little islands in the crick I snapped a branch and it stopped completely what it was doing. I froze and watched as this thing stood up on two legs and started to turn around towards me. It stood 8 feet tall and had a huge wolf like head, snout and ears of a dog, and all black fur. In the first encounter the creature’s fur was grey in color with some white, this one was all black.

It kept glancing over to the east and back towards me. It had not yet seen me, it put its snout into the air and looked like it was sniffing the wind.  I’m completely freaking out at this point and reach to pick up my firearm to get out of the area quickly when there was a splash up the creek I looked up and now this thing was on all four legs, it still stood 5 to 5 1/2 feet tall. At this point I don’t want to run out of fear that it will give chase, so I stay frozen. It looked at me and snarled, and I thought it was sizing me up and then all of a sudden it looks to the east, back at me one more time, and took two giant leaps toward the east, and onto the bank of the creek, that’s about a 25 foot distance. It then jumps towards the treetops and disappears to the east. I stood there in total disbelief.

I got home and my mind just kept racing. So I decided to confide in my father about what I had seen and he looked at me as if I were an alien. Said I was crazy and I should get my head checked out. I know what I saw!

ENCOUNTER THREE

The third and final encounter came on May 29, 8:52 pm.  My dad and I were having a fire down by the creek and we were getting low on wood.  He asked if I could go get more wood for the fire from behind the pole barn. I hesitated and said in a few minutes.  I was afraid of those woods, which is something I thought I would never say. After about ten minutes I start to make my way towards the back of the pole barn it’s just about dark and I keep hearing this rustling and a lower growl like dogs are playing and when I reach the back of the barn it stops. I light a cigarette and look out into the woods which are 10 yards away, again the woods had gone completely silent, it was eerie. Then there was a sound like a zipper being zipped up.  It was about 30 yards to the south. I waited for a minute and decided to look out to where I heard the sound. As I glanced to my right I saw something move.
It is just about completely dark, and there is a stench in the air that is absolutely putrid. It smelled of rotten guts and urine. I figured it was a rotten carcass of a dead animal. And then as I was shining my flashlight a deep guttural growl, like a raccoon would make came from the area I had heard the rustling sound.  So I shone my light over towards the sound and I saw eyes about 5 1/2 feet off of the ground, the eyes were red in color and were very shiny. It really didn’t freak me out as a lot of critters have red eyes when exposed to light. Then this thing stood up on two legs, this thing was really tall 8 to 8 1/2 feet, it growled again and literally turned around and walked away to the south.

I thought I had crapped myself, I came back home and my dad asked where was the wood? I said I didn’t feel well and was going to bed. I went out the next day to look around the area I heard the noise. I found only a deer skin, the rest of the deer was gone, including the head.

Also two neighbors of mine have heard very eerie howls coming from my family’s woods, saying they only come at dusk. They have been in the area for 50 + years and said they have never heard a sound like the one that they heard.

Also my friend’s cat Albert was trapped 60 feet up in a tree for 3 days during that storm that hit here just recently and refused to come down. It took tree cutting experts with a bucket to get him back. The rescuers said the cat hissed at them and did not cooperate with the rescue, and was shaking uncontrollably.

And one more thing. I set apples out for the deer every week and noticed the other day that all the apples were gone, and a rock was in every place where there was an apple. I have a trail cam on the area as I write this so hopefully I can get some pics to you. I also found some tracks that look like a huge wolfs. There used to be deer around here all the time. Had a herd of 50 or so. Now you’re lucky to see one or two, it’s like they disappeared. Been really strange around here for the past couple of years and I don’t know what to think about it. In all three of my encounters the thing I saw reminded me of a werewolf. I no longer go near the woods. I was told by a family member that a lot of the wood acreage is Indian burial grounds. I don’t share this with very many people at all in fear of getting laughed at or called crazy.

***

            This report includes a couple of unusual features. In the first two encounters, the man saw the creature leap for the treetops. In the first, it appeared to be following him by jumping through the trees. That is not known canine behavior. Canines are not built with the brachiating or branching limb structure that allows them to swing by their arms as primates do. Perhaps it jumped from tree to tree. Dogmen have been seen making tremendous leaps and bounds.

A second thing I noticed was the presence of the Oz Factor, or a general bubble of silence, that seemed to envelope the area during two of the incidents. This unexplained phenomenon frequently appears in tandem with cryptid sightings of all kinds, as well as with various paranormal experiences.

Since it seems to be a recent and ongoing set of sightings, I hope to hear back from the witness if any more incidents occur. And during this final month or so of Midwestern winter weather, I’ll be listening in every ice storm for werewolves in the trees.

 

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Minnesota is a state with far fewer reports of dogmen than I would expect, given its heavy forests and abundant water sources. So when a report came last week describing a very recent encounter, I was glad to see it. And the best part is that this witness is a professional artist and so provided some very compelling illustrations. She also found the courage to return to the spot this past weekend and take a few photos. I’ve left most of the report in her own words, with minor edits mostly for the natural repetition that occurs during a multi-email exchange.

Here is her account of what happened the evening of Monday, November 7, 2016.

Hi Linda. I wanted to report a sighting. I am 41, a graphic designer. I was driving just out of the town of Duluth, MN on Maple Grove Road. It was a dark night, the clouds covering most light of the 47% full moon. The area I drove was on the very edge of a residential area where houses were sparse, leading to old farm land with a very old barn. As I drove I noticed something dash in front of me from right to left. I saw it heading from the very edge of a residential area where houses were sparse, running into a field with a very old barn.  My eyes struggled to make sense of a very tall creature, 7 feet I would guess. It wasn’t on hind legs.

duluthdm

The creature moved faster than normal. The face was wolf/dog-like with a longer snout and high set, small pointed ears. The back was very angled with extra-long front legs in comparison to the back. The leg length discrepancy caused it to walk more stiffly, almost with an injured type stride. The forearm was muscled, but it wasn’t primate or walking on its knuckles. It had more of forward stride like a deer, just not as smooth. Since the night was shadowed, it reminded me of a shadow person as the black was such an intense black, it’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen a shadow being. The eyes seemed maybe orange in my view.

For a second I wondered if it was my imagination, but I continued to watch and saw a far-coming vehicle’s lights shine through [between] the moving legs

The oddest part was the feeling of incredible fear and dread. I was literally so scared later I sat in a lit gas station until my husband came home. It definitely wasn’t a deer or moose, (angled shoulder too tall and steep, leg height different, wrong head), not a bear (wrong ears and head, not round, body bulk proportioned wrong) not a Bigfoot, nothing ape or humanlike. Anyway, it felt unlike any animal I’ve ever seen, with almost unnatural speed.

My sister said she, her ex-boyfriend and a friend have all seen it on its hind legs a few years ago. It lives near her house. She said it stood and watched them on the edge of the field with red eyes. Mine was a side view. It felt otherworldly. I am a [psychically] gifted person, as well. I am familiar with spirits and such.

Fear does not begin to describe it. The feeling lingers, like feeling a thick sludge weighing on me, really like an energy attack. I was an active camper, hiker, etc. Now I don’t want to be out in the dark, the woods, or driving alone at night. I know better, to fear these things is not good, it’s just hard to shake. It also felt like a bad omen, as silly as that sounds.  It took me a week to want to drive up there to the location to see if I could see anything, but I didn’t see any prints as most of the road was paved. In the daylight I could see it definitely went up into a field with a barn and an old building. The area is very close to the town of Duluth, but oddly this is just far enough out that the field runs along a road that is surrounded by birch woods and swampland. Our temps were really nice, 60 degrees at the time. This is hunting season and the deer are super active. Our normal temps are much cooler than this every other year.

Here is the illustration/sketch of what I saw that night. I am a wildlife artist with a very keen eye and photographic memory. I am use to drawing musculature, accurate portrayals of animals so when I explain what I saw hopefully there is a bit of credibility.

Bray Road Creature 3

The reason I drew what I did was because common response from people compared the animal to a wolf, bear, deer, and moose. I went online, drew each animal as a real representation of actual shape, and looked up the average height. None of these look accurate, the main thing I noticed was the sheer size, slope of the back and very different, long limbs. I drew this to mainly try and figure out what I saw. I don’t care if my name is mentioned, I am definitely not seeking any attention, just to understand what this thing was. I just call it the Bray Road Creature, closest thing I could come to in what I saw. –

I have just a few comments; the first one is that if this creature stood seven feet tall while on all fours, it would be even taller if it ever stood on its hind legs. Since bipedalism is the hallmark trait of any dogman, we can’t be sure that’s what the witness saw, but it certainly seemed larger and differently built than your ordinary wolf or dog.

Another unusual thing she mentioned was the overwhelming, lingering sense of fear and dread she experienced from seeing the creature. This is a common occurrence in cryptid sightings and other types of anomalous encounters, but doesn’t normally happen in the case of  mundane animals crossing a road.

The third thing I took note of was the presence of the old barn. For some reason, barns and other outbuildings often play a part in encounters with both dogmen and Bigfoot. I don’t know whether the buildings serve as shelter, hiding places or hunting grounds for small, tasty mammals, but they do pop up fairly often in such reports.

Finally, my unfortunately necessary disclaimer: Although  she included the rough location, that land is undoubtedly private property and must be respected as such. Trespassing is strictly illegal, and can bring harsh prosecution and fines. I believe — from long experience — that sightings of such creatures are random and rare, and are more likely to happen for those who are not searching for them. Yet I do believe there must be many more places in Minnesota where strange canid creatures abide.

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One witness described the creature he saw as resembling those in the movie, “Dog Soldiers.”

Two detailed and interesting dogman reports showed up in my e-mail this past week; one from New Jersey and another just a couple of hundred miles north of that near Bancroft, Ontario. Both occurred in 2015. They’re also both quite lengthy and the submitters asked me to withhold their names. I am still communicating with the writers about certain usual questions, but here are (still subject to change) my somewhat abbreviated versions of their reports:

The Weird Wolfman of Worthington State Park, New Jersey

A 55-year old man who works as a physical therapist, does not drink and says he has never had paranormal experiences decided to walk his malamute dog in Worthington State Park on August 23, 2015 at about 12:30 am on a bright night. The weather had been too humid and warm for the dog in the daytime, he said, and they had set off on a pleasant park trail with no problem viewing their surroundings.

Suddenly he spotted something strange as they neared a pond. There were two figures; one lying on the ground and the other crouching over it. As he watched, the crouched figure rose onto its hind feet. He quickly pegged the prone figure as a dead deer, but squinted at the now upright beast to identify it. He quickly ruled out another deer or a bear.  Its large head featured tall, pointed ears and a long muzzle, and he described its torso and upper legs as “densely muscular,” with a thin waist. “I was an avid bodybuilder for years,” he said. “The creature’s physique resembled a ‘roid-rat,’ as we called them.”

He also noticed that it walked on its toe pads as a canine does, and estimated the creature weighed something over 200 pounds and stood at between six and seven feet tall. He noted that the creature seemed poised and balanced on its hind legs, “as if to step over the deer and deliberately, adroitly, attack.”

The well-trained malamute had been sniffing intently as it waited for a cue from its owner, and did not quibble when the man backed carefully away until they reached a spot where they could safely run to the car.

“The creature is out there!” he wrote. “I do not know what I saw as far as an exact species, but I absolutely know it is something that is not recognized by professional zoology. Again, it was real but also surreal at the same time.” He did not notify park authorities, and now walks his dog near home.

Odd Ontario Canine

A man who went fishing for brook trout alone on the night of July  7th, 2015 near Bancroft, Ontario, found much more than he bargained for as he returned to his cabin via a gravel road. It was light enough out that he could see fifty feet ahead of him even without his truck headlamps on when he saw what he thought was a person standing in the middle of the road about 20 feet away. He slowed down and flicked his four roof lights on.

“It was a creature about seven feet tall, black with greyish-silver parts, hunched over with a dead rabbit in its hands,” he wrote. “Yes, hands with fingers and claws as far as I could tell. Its feet seemed to be bent backwards. It turned its head and shoulders and looked right at me. I could see its yellow eye shine.” [Typical for canine eyes, I might add.]

He could also hear it growling at him in a “low, low” tone that made the hair stand up on his neck, and at that point stomped on the gas in panic, half-bracing for impact and closing his eyes for a brief second. The creature either jumped to the ditch or laid down to let the truck, which rides 22 inches off the ground, roll over it. The man saw nothing in the rear view mirrors, however, and just kept going. He compared the creature to those in the movie, Dog Soldiers. But the episode was not over.

He made it safely back to his cabin and sat down trying to calm himself, when he heard something large walking around outside his cabin. He thought there may have even been two of them but wasn’t sure. He had a cell phone but did not have signal coverage. He did have the presence of mind to put it on camera setting and then aimed it through the slats of his window shutters. It took 3 photos of something that admittedly looks like a shadowy, dog-shaped head. I am awaiting permission from him to share those pictures.

After spending a long, anxious night, near dawn he finally thought of turning on his vehicle alarm from inside the cabin in hopes it might scare the creature away. As the alarm beeped, he made a mad dash for the truck, jumped in and drove for home, a five-hour-plus trip. He says he still has bad dreams about it.

Many thanks to both of these witnesses for sharing their experiences!

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(original art copyright Linda Godfrey 2012)

Reports of unknown canids don’t stop just because I’m busy making seasonal appearances. So when my publisher,  Tarcher/Penguin, asked me to write a Halloweenish guest blog, I saw a chance to reveal a few of my recent faves:

Werewolves, as I like to say, are not just for Halloween anymore. But comes October’s end, our thoughts turn naturally toward monsters and the macabre.

My own thoughts turn that way year ‘round; I’ve stalked, investigated and written about wolf-like, upright creatures for the past two decades. I believe that amid hundreds of reports of fanged, shaggy manimals must lie at least a fleshy gobbet of truth. And if all the incidents cited in Real Wolfmen; True Encounters in Modern America, aren’t enough to convince readers that something spooky this way trots, consider the many new reports that have poured in since the book’s September debut.

The horrific encounters come from ordinary citizens across the US and Canada. While a few eyewitnesses report creature behavior that smacks of the supernatural, most sightings describe what might be a natural canine that inexplicably walks or runs on its hind legs — and sports one nasty attitude.

I pawed through the most recently reported cases to choose six unforgettable meet-ups between real humans and real wolfmen. The reports below are abbreviated, but I still advise reading them in a brightly lit room with the front door securely shut. The creatures seem as curious about us as we are about them, and more than one witness has reported the harrowing sight of a furry face pressed against the windowpane.

Real wolfmen? Ask these people who’ve seen them:

Polk County, Florida: Highway horror describes what three family members felt in two separate encounters several years ago. First, a husband and wife spotted a seven-foot tall, wolf-like creature standing upright on the roadside as they passed it in their van. They didn’t slow down. A relative later saw a huge, muscular wolf-like creature that gave him an “evil feeling” just west of Orlando! (No, it wasn’t Mickey Mouse.)

Sparta, Tennessee:  A teenager and her older brother on a sunset drive to the grocery store in 2003 forgot about the groceries as an upright, shaggy-furred, wolf-like creature weighing several hundred pounds sprinted across Simpson Road about fifteen feet in front of their Honda Accord. “It was a strange experience I will never forget,” she wrote.

New York state, central: A veteran police officer recalls a childhood encounter with a dark-furred, wolf-headed creature that he and some friends saw “sitting” on a log in some woods at dusk. They thought it might be a human in a dark cape – until it turned to glare at them and they saw its pointed ears, snout and fangs! The officer has since investigated huge, bipedal wolf prints in the same area.

Southern Indiana: A man and woman had just crossed the Ohio River driving north from Owensboro, Kentucky, in 2010 when they had to swerve to avoid hitting an upright, “emaciated and very riled wolf-like creature.” Before speeding away, the driver locked eyes with it and said he felt that the beast was both intelligent and dangerous. It snarled at them as they passed. “I was really fearful, so we left,” he wrote.

McHenry, Illinois: A woman driving home from her mother-in-law’s funeral one April night in 2002 was approaching a roadside cemetery on State Hwy. 31 when she noticed glowing eyes to her left. Next, a dark shape rose onto its hind legs and ran in front of her car, forcing her to brake. It paused to turn and snarl at her before running off into the cemetery. The beast stood taller than her six-foot high truck, she said, and it looked like a “walking wolf.” She called the experience “surreal.” Her husband slept through the whole thing.

Kilgore, Texas: Driving home at 5 am in light rain on a rural road near Kilgore, a thirty-five year old oil dispatcher slowed for a curve when some type of upright animal appeared in his high beams. It had a large, wolf-like head and carried a yearling deer! It growled aggressively at the man, who estimated its height at over six feet. “The thing scared the crap out of me,” he said. “I know what I saw and would put my hand on the Bible to it and take a lie detector test.”

There are more — the pony poacher of Alberta, Canada, the Ohio shadow wolf and the Hawaiian helper dogmen – to name a few. If these witnesses are to be believed, it’s an alternative zoo out there: a zoo that roams uncaged. Happy Halloween!

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