So the officer and I went out there to... take a look at it... and, you know... he just tried to chew in around the doors... and you could see a dog print outside on the a... window there... so you know it was obviously a dog.
"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."
[Click the video to the right to hear the song.]
A very strange thing happened after the poem was aired on radio on April 1, 1987—and it became obvious the story was not going to fade away. The first two times the song was played; there was no viewer reaction or calls. Cook and O’Malley were prepared to let the failed prank die, when the phone lines started lighting up. People were calling in asking about that “weird” song.
Listeners asked, “Who did that song on the dogman thing?” and, “When are you going to play it again?” O’Malley took a call from an elderly man who stated that he was chilled to the bone after hearing the song because he had actually seen a similar creature years before. That was the first of many sighting reports that would pour into the station over the next few weeks. Scores of people told of stories and encounters with a creature that was very much like Cook’s fabricated dogman. Within one month, “The Legend of the Dogman,” became the most requested song on the air and for a short time was added into the regular rotation of the music.
Other stories began to surface and be compared to the Michigan Dogman story. A century old, a mysterious Indian legend revealed shocking similarities. A French fur trader’s diary from 1804 told of an encounter with “loup garou.” A letter from 1857 described a creature that stood upright like a man, yet, “bore the countenance of a grey wolf.” A real “dogman” sighting investigated by Lake County Sheriff’s deputy, Jeff Chamberlain, who was accompanied by Department of Natural Resources officer, Ron McCarty, was picked up and reported on by Mark Marantette, a reporter for the Cadillac Evening News. Then, other news outlets picked up the story and it was later fed down the Associated Press newswire, and thus was picked up by newspapers all across America.
It was even mentioned as a strange coincidence in Paul Harvey’s national “News and Comments” broadcast. McCarty called the TV station, WTCM, stating that he and Chamberlain had openly joked about how this sighting would fit in with the seventh year prophecy made in the song. (McCarty’s voice would later appear in the beginning of the tenth anniversary version of the song, “The Legend 97”) Suddenly, “The Legend” soared into national prominence, and became a hit song once again, only this time on a much larger scale. Requests for copies came in from all fifty states and around the world.
Eventually, the master tape, never considered to be of real value, had been destroyed, and Steve Cook went into the studio again, this time with an upgraded keyboard, and recorded the song a second time. A few changes were made to the lyrics to update “The Legend” for summer. When it was finished, the second master recording was shipped to Southfield Michigan for mass production. The first five hundred copies arrived a week later, and sold out in twelve days.
"The Legend” had quickly become hot property with record stores and radio stations across the country calling the station requesting copies. A large record company offered to record and promote the song, and Steve Cook faced the difficult decision of whether to release “The Legend” on a national scale, or to keep it local and manageable. Steve chose to keep it local. The music and lyrics were copyrighted by Mindstage Productions, Cook’s marketing and advertising company.
More and more copies of the tape, which was originally priced at $3.00, were sold and in the fall of 1987, WTCM held an art contest which allowed amateur artists the chance to submit works depicting what they thought the dogman looked like. There were over a hundred entries. Some were exceptional, but by far the most chilling and dramatic, was an eleven by seventeen charcoal sketch done by Brian Rosinski who was only twenty-three years old at the time and never had a formal art lesson.
The song was never intended to be a marketable vehicle for profit and Cook made the decision early on that any profits earned derived from its sale would be donated to charity. The first charity was the Traverse City Cherryland Humane Society which scored $2,500 towards drilling a new water well and the remodeling of the adult dog facility which included new floor tile and pens. In 2001, Cook was introduced to Brian Manley founder of AC Paw, a no-kill animal rescue program that specializes in lost causes.
AC Paw takes in animals that have been injured, abused, or neglected; or that have used up the maximum boarding time in traditional facilities and are about to be euthanized. They rehabilitate animals through a unique foster care network, and eventually place them in a loving home. Cook was so impressed with the AC Paw program; he shifted all donations from the proceeds of “The Legend” to their cause and thus the, “The Legend of the Dogman’s,” legacy lives on for animals in need.
While “The Legend” has never been formally distributed for airplay on other radio stations, it’s been heard across the USA and the world. Many young adults grew up hearing it and remember it scaring them at summer campfire story telling sessions. “The Legend” has inspired movie screenplays, stage productions, numerous books, term papers, at least one Master’s thesis, and countless classroom projects at all grade levels.
In spite of the initial belief that the song would be a radio bit designed to run one day only, interest in The Legend continues to grow. Steve Cook receives ten to twenty reported sightings each year, many supported by dramatic evidence.
Perhaps the best description of the legacy of “The Legend” came from WTCM morning host Jack O’Malley: “This song has been firmly woven into the fabric of Northern Michigan. It is part of the culture now, part of the folklore. The Legend will be here long after we are gone.”
The Gable Film
In an estate sale, an old film was found in a box. After viewing it, a home video of a strange attack was discovered. The film shows a young boy filming normal family stuff until a truck ride passing by a field shows a creature of some sort. They stop the truck and film the creature until it charges to attack. The attack is somewhat caught on tape and even shows the mouth of the animal. The mouth rules out ape and dog origin. Some people claim this is the dogman.
Big Rapids, 1961
"When I was a boy, my father was the night watchman at a manufacturing plant located in a rural area between Big Rapids and Chippewa Lake, Michigan. Our house (which, if I remember right, was a perk of the night watchman job) was across the street from the factory. The plant building was right next to a large wilderness area of State land. At that time it was simply known as the Haymarsh, but now it is officially called the Haymarsh State Game Area.
"We didn't understand it at the time, but dad was always very skittish about letting us play outside after dark. He would sometimes talk about hearing coyotes or bears roaming around in the haymarsh when he was walking the perimeter of the building at night.
"One night in the summer of 1961, dad walked back to the house to sit on the porch and have a cup of coffee and a sweet roll. He had a good view of the entire plant property. He saw some movement near a chain link fence behind the building. This was approximately 3:00 AM, so he felt quite sure this person wasn't there by accident.
"He drew his gun and watched for a few minutes. That's when he noticed this was not a person at all, but something much taller. He said it appeared to be covered in brown/grey hair. It had very broad shoulders and a powerful chest. It alternated between walking on four legs, then standing up on two. He said it seemed to be looking for something along the driveway.
"He said later he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. He quietly moved into the house and grabbed his Kodak Signet 35mm camera, which was his pride and joy. At this point I should mention that dad was quite a photography buff. His father had owned one of the first camera stores in Ohio, and dad got the shutterbug from grandpa.
"As he stepped back onto the front porch, the creature moved slowly along the driveway, directly under the lights. He adjusted the camera shutter for a long exposure, held it as still as he could (he said he was shaking pretty bad by then) and snapped a picture. I've enclosed a print of it in this letter. Dad said a few seconds later, the thing dropped back down to all fours, and slowly moved off into the woods (to the left in this picture).
"He sent a print to the local newspaper, and sent copies to several magazines. One that I think was called 'Mysterion' published the photo in their Spring issue of 1962. Dad had a copy of the magazine for years, but it was misplaced after he passed away.
"I still have the negative strip that contains this image, if you would like to have someone examine it. I also still have dad's Kodak Signet. I haven't shot any pictures with it for several years, but I'm pretty sure it still works."
"One weekend back around fall 1987, my two best friends and I were staying at my family’s cabin, which is not far from the small town of Sparta, about twenty minutes north of Grand Rapids. My two friends left to have dinner while I stayed behind at the cabin."
Following the dinner, the men headed back toward Sparta and the cabin. What happened next would shock and disturb them for years.
"It was dark, and they were on a rural road. Suddenly both of them saw something standing by the side of the road. In the headlights of the car, it appeared to be a human-like figure covered in grey fur. As they got closer and passed the figure, both of them got a very good look at it. It was the size of a man, stood on two legs, it was covered head to toe in grey fur, and had a wolf-like face. It even raised its hands and seemed to snarl at them as they drove by. They said it looked like a werewolf out of a Hollywood movie.
"My two friends didn’t dare stop, they continued driving. And of course they were peppering each other with questions, 'Did you see that too?! Was that a dog? Was that someone dressed up in a costume?' and so on. As they are having this animated conversation, they pass by the sign that says 'Welcome to Sparta' and drove through the small main street, and continued on out of the town in the direction of my cabin. Their conversation about what had just happened continued, when both of them looked up to see that same 'Welcome to Sparta' sign AGAIN, followed by the same main street that they had just driven through only moments ago. They hadn’t stopped or turned around. They had been traveling in the same direction on the same road, but somehow without any noticeable interruption in their journey, they had somehow been sent backwards several miles."
Until this point, it would be easy to dismiss this event as someone playing a joke. However, the time displacement characteristic is what sets this encounter apart. While such things are well documented in UFO and alien abduction stories, it's something we've not seen before in dogman sighting reports. Andy continues:
"I remember when they finally showed up at my cabin. They arrived no later than what I expected them to—around 9:00 pm or so. And I remember how animated they were about their strange encounter, but I just assumed they had seen a large dog and were telling me an embellished story in order to get a laugh. But twenty years later, both of them still insist that this was no joke.
"I have no idea what to make of this story. Maybe it was just some teenagers in a werewolf costume playing pranks. And did my friends really experience “lost time” afterwards, or did they just make some wrong turns on their drive and didn’t notice because they were talking and distracted?
"I have no idea, but I would love to know if anyone else has seen similar things in the Sparta area..."
Reed City, 1993
The area around Reed City, Michigan, has been a hotbed of dogman activity. This report details an event that occurred nearly twenty years ago, but the witness remembers it like it was yesterday, and is unshakeable in her story.
Her name is Courtney, and her encounter took place during the winter of 1993-94. Courtney was a teenager at the time, and was sneaking cigarettes behind her parents' home, near Todd Lake northeast of Reed City. The sun was setting on a clear, cold winter day. Courtney was facing a large abandoned barn on the property next door.
"The barn had always kind of spooked me. It was filled with rusty old equipment. The outer planks were all rotten, and it sagged and leaned in every direction. My dad said to stay away, as the whole thing could collapse.
On that evening, I was standing about fifty feet from the barn, and saw sunlight coming through the gaps in the siding."
Courtney took her eyes off the barn for a few minutes, then something caught her attention again.
"There was some movement; the light flickered, but I couldn't really tell what it was. Then it turned its head back and looked straight at me. It was at least six feet tall, if not more. It was dark colored. It had a dog like appearance; pointy nose and really big, pointy ears."
Courtney dashed into her house to grab a flashlight. When she returned outside, she shined it toward the barn door but the animal was no longer there. She walked closer to the barn to look for tracks in the heavy snow. When she didn't see any, she realized the creature might still be inside, and ran back to the safety of the house. She never saw the creature again.
She later talked to a neighbor who had seen something, "the size of a buffalo but the shape of a dog," in the same barn a few months before Courtney's encounter. The neighbor said she had been so frightened she was near hysterics for days. Her father had taken his gun and searched the barn, but found nothing there.
At the time of these events, neither of the girls had heard of "The Legend" song, and did not know about the Michigan Dogman legend until years later.
This report comes to us from an anonymous contributor who grew up in Cheboygan County, but spent many summers camping on family property in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This encounter took place in the area of Watersmeet, home of the famous Paulding Lights phenomenon. Oddly enough, the Paulding Lights are also known as the "Dog Meadow Lights":
"I was thirteen, had just gotten new roller-blades for Christmas and, since the main road where our property sits is paved, I couldn't wait to ride around. I went blading by myself and stopped to rest for a second. On this road, the woods are so thick, there's not much space between the road and the woods in most parts, and I remember seeing trees pushed down on the road that my dad said was done by bears. (He was an avid bear hunter) I remember not hearing any of your normal sounds of nature, not even birds. The air was still, and the sky would be pure dark in not too long. I was deciding to turn back, when I heard a rustling behind me, and something emerge from the left side of the road. I assumed it was a deer, and paused and made myself as quiet as I could so I could watch it, and slumped down on my stomach in the middle of the road. It was about six hundred feet ahead of me.
"When I got myself settled in the road to watch it and looked up, I realized what I was looking at wasn't a deer. It was on all fours, with grey/brown fur. At first, I feared the worst, thinking a bear had caught my scent, until I saw it's outline and color. I thought I was looking at a dog until I realized the face was too... primitive? Like a fox or a coyote's. At this point in my life, I had never seen a wolf in real life, and it was too far for me to make out the face exactly."
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has always recognized that wild wolves still roamed in Upper Peninsula, although they were thought to be in very limited numbers, and only in extremely remote areas. It is conceivable this witness was seeing one of these wolves; but then something very strange happened:
"... it extended its front legs, and in the slowest, longest seconds of my life, stood up on it's hind legs, sniffed the air, walked for about five steps. Then got back down on all fours and walked to the other side of the woods, then disappeared.
"I don't remember how long I laid in the middle of the road staring in the empty space I saw this thing stand like a human. I remember my jaw hanging down as low as it could, and a pool of drool on the cement under it. It finally clicked in my mind that, perhaps, I should roller-blade my butt back to camp as quick as I could."
The witness reports that while the creature never stalked or pursued her, she slept very little during the rest of the family camping trip. She never told anyone about what she had seen, fearing she would be ridiculed. At the time of the sighting, she had never heard of The Legend song, and would not until 2004. She moved to Southern California in 2008, and has no interest in camping ever again.
"My dad and I have a story to tell about our encounters with the Dogman. My dad's story took place in the mid seventies. There is a cemetery behind the Alpena high school and a wooded area behind that. There are many trails that run through here. In this area is a place called The Sandies, where all the young kids would go and party. My dad and two of his buddies were in a canoe in broad daylight paddling from The Sandies around the back of the cemetery. The banks of the river are ten to twelve feet high in places, and some trails run right to the edge.
"The three of them saw what looked to be a big dog running behind them on the trail. They didn't pay much attention to it until they heard a splash. When they looked it was swimming after them, then it went from a dog paddle to the chest and front legs coming out of the water and wading after them. They decided right then not to wait around to see what it was. Honestly, I thought it was B.S. at the time, and I'm still not sure even to this day if it was something they had been smoking or drinking.
"Then around 2001-2002, I was leading some friends through The Sandies trails. I used to like taking people out there without a flashlight and tell them my dad's story to freak them out. The girls were freaked out before we even got into the woods so I decided not to scare them that night.
"In the river are small several islands connected by a small sliver of land. At that time there were three such islands chained together and I took them through to the last one which was planted with pines in nice even rows. I was the first one back there, about thirty seconds ahead, when one of the girls got her foot hung up on something.
"As I was going back to help her, there was a spot where the trees make a sort of roof effect which is really cool looking at night with the moon shining through. At that point I saw something. I'm not sure what it was, but it sent me running out double time. When my buddy saw my face he didn't say a word, he just followed, both of us dragging the girls behind us.
"When he asked me later why I came out in such a hurry, I told him it was because I thought I had seen something at the other end of the island walking through the trees that was very tall and not likely human. He may not have believed me, but he never questioned it either.
"I'm still not sure what I saw. It could easily have been that I scared myself with dad's story and was seeing things, but I know this: I still don't like the dark, and even though I love hunting, I hate going out before the sun comes up during deer season."
This sighting report is told second hand, by the brother-in-law of the witness. The witness is a prominent person in local government, and wishes to remain anonymous:
"The situation started last Saturday night around midnight when he was coming home from a friend's house in Benzonia and taking the back way home to Traverse City. He stated that while traveling down Cinder Road, several miles outside of the town of Bendon, he observed a pair of eyes reflecting off his headlights ahead of him. Thinking that it was probably a deer along side of the road, he began to slow down. As he got closer however, he stated that the object was much larger and much darker than a deer.
"He said that by this time, he had slowed to around thirty miles per hour and was at that point several hundred feet from the creature which still hadn’t moved. As he approached further, he stated that the only way he could describe the creature was being similar to a very large dark wolf, however he observed that this thing wasn’t on four legs, but was upright his back two legs standing near a road killed deer. He estimated that the creature stood a little over six feet tall and had very dark fur.
"He stated that by now, he was going slow enough to bring his truck to a stop in the road and observe the creature which had not yet moved and was still staring at him. He told me that for a brief second, he believed that the object was a giant stuffed animal put there as some kind of joke due to the fact that he had never seen anything like this in his life, and that he was able to drive up on it as close as he was, without it having moved an inch. He told me however, that before he could finish that thought, the creature then dropped to all four legs and sprinted across the road and disappeared into the woods on the other side of the roadway.
"He told me that he stayed frozen in his seat for a minute wondering in the middle of the road, of what the heck had just happened. I jokingly asked him if he had been drinking that night and with a deadly serious face, he stated, 'No… whatever that was, it was for real.'
"As perplexed as he was that night over what he had seen, he was deathly afraid to go wandering into the woods to investigate further.
"He said that in using a flashlight, he observed an animals tracks leading into the woods on the opposite side of the road and was fortunate enough that night to have his digital camera with him. He showed me a photograph of the paw-print which he said appeared to be about seven or eight inches long. He had another picture of the same paw-print where he placed a shotgun shell in the middle of it for scale.
"He told me that he was lucky that the side of the road was so soft, because he wasn’t willing to go any farther than two or three steps away from the door to his truck to get a picture. I inquired if the animal had made any sounds before it disappeared and he said that he did not hear it make any noise and were it not for the picture, he would have thought that he had imagined the whole thing. I asked him if it could have been a bear and he stated, 'absolutely not.' He bear hunts every year in the Upper Peninsula, so he obviously knows what bears look like up close.
"That's his story. Believe it if you like. If I didn’t know him as well as I do, and hadn’t seen the pictures, I would have said that he was out of his mind. I’ve heard the song and know some of the stories, but always believed it was just for entertainment value. After this happened though, I’m looking at all of this under a whole new light."
GalleryAuthor's note: Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you've ever had an counter with this creature (PLEASE GIVE THE DATE OF THE ENCOUNTER, THE CITY AND THE STATE). I might add your story to the encounters list. Also, if you enjoyed the story, leave me a review on the talk page. If you don't have an account on the Wikia, send me an e-mail! Thanks
Somewhere in the Northwoods Darkness, a creature walks up-right...
The best advice you may ever get... is don't go out at night.
Written by CR Productions