Linda S. Godfrey, the author of werewolf books The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf and Hunting the American Werewolf throws us a bone in her third book in the series, The Michigan Dogman: Werewolves and Other Canines Across the USA. And what a juicy bone it is! This latest offering is based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts — some funny and some scary — and the stories are told in such a compelling way disbelief should be suspended in even the most hardened skeptics.
At the very least, the book is sure to entertain horror aficionados out there who just know something’s out in those woods; something reportedly six or seven feet tall and full of lots of weird wolfen attitude, according to many accounts. This page-turner has more monstrous creatures than a Sookie Stackhouse novel and range from the usual garden-variety werewolf sightings to tales of the strange and supernatural sort.
Godfrey starts the book by discussing the interesting fact producers of the Monster Quest TV series featured Hunting The American Werewolf as the basis of their American Werewolf episode. She goes on to tell us that, ever since the episode aired, it helped many witnesses come forward to discuss their encounter with these upright walking wolves. Further, many of those witnesses have passed polygraph exams leading to the realization, early in your reading, these folks believe what they’re reporting.
The author honestly writes of the creature’s appearance as seen through the eyes of the people who’ve granted interviews or provided reports to her. Although a few of the details differ slightly, such as fur and eye color, it’s surprising to note most of the eyewitnesses are surprisingly consistent in both appearance and behavior. Godfrey sums up the general description by writing in The Michigan Dogman, “The dogmen feature prominent, pointed ears on top of their heads, muzzles, a much leaner physique, and walk on claw-toed pads.”
The scope of Godfrey’s work is impressive given the sheer volume of manwolf sightings within its pages. Her collection of eyewitness sightings east and west of the Mississippi could have easily blended into a boring mess but, thankfully, the different details she interjects throughout the novel are just different and compelling enough to keep you reading and wanting more. A lot more.
A rather interesting commonality, most of the purported werewolves of The Michigan Dogman stories are of the two-legged variety and a much smaller amount sport about on all fours. Curiously more benign then Hollywood would have us believe, these cryptids also seem content, most of the time, just taking down the occasional deer in the woods, snatching a chicken or two, or munching on some road kill.
Many upright canines, it seems, just don’t want any trouble and simply run away when encountered by drivers, hunters and foot travelers. Human encounters depicted in the book describe scenarios where these creatures mostly scram or sometimes hang around a little bit to check out the occasional human encroaching on their territory. However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security should you encounter one yourself because, every once in a while, the alleged dogman will give chase or get up close and personal.
So, why aren’t there any photos of these upright canines you might ask? That answer to that question is lamented by the author but it may lie in the actions of the hapless people who encounter these weird and terrifying manwolves. From most accounts, the unlucky people encountering these beasties are either too busy running away or gunning their car’s gas pedal; putting as much distance between it and them as possible. Think about it…avoiding being killed and possibly eaten is conducive to a blurry cell phone pic which most folks wouldn’t believe anyways!
Even though many have lived to tell the tale, don’t let their fortune downplay the real threat these creatures pose. The nightmarish stuff which has no doubtedly spawned actual werewolf legends around the world exists within the pages of The Michigan Dogman in the form of some wild things wanting to try out some new meat for a change. Just a little taste of human seems to be the motive for these boldest of manwolves, and if those said humans are in remote areas where they may not be noticed if they come up missing, all the better.
As far as state-by-state sightings go in the book, there are quite a few standouts easily falling into the crap-your-pants category if they were to happen to you. Then there are also the crap-your-pants accounts described by terrified bystanders so chilling that the person who came through the ordeal, unscathed, might justifiably seek therapy to help them cope; maybe throughout their entire life.
That being said; The Michigan Dogman is at its best when the accounts are so creepy they fertilize the future nightmares of readers. Or, at the very least, putting a quick, urgent step in the nighttime walk from our house to the car — especially if we live in one of the remote areas the beasts frequent. As terrifying examples, the werewolves in the eyewitness accounts that follow weren’t taught to be afraid of humans by momma wolf and are part of a more sinister breed, highly likely to get in your face…and perhaps EAT it if you’re not careful.
Two of the most disturbing stories in the book are based on separate dogman sightings in Michigan and Ohio. In both situations, these cryptids stalked people and left indelibly terrifying impressions on those unfortunate souls who encountered them. The first scary incident is documented in the account titled, The Farm Stalker, and happened to a woman on New Year’s Eve, 2006, at her family farm in Iosco County, Michigan. The woman in the story shares her experience in a tale about a not-so-nice creature and its behavior as she was attending to nighttime chores on the farm.
The woman met up with the bipedal beast while attending to tasks as her family recovered from their colds inside the house. That particular night, the moon lit the property up fairly well, she noted. As she made her way to close the chicken coop doors, in order to guard against coyotes making their way inside for a little takeout, she noticed a large, squarish form which was low and down close to the ground. It was near one of the pine trees on the property; a form she at first mistook for a hay bale until it stood up and faced her.
The shape rose up as she got closer to the chicken coop and it walked to the chicken coop door, stopped, and turned to face her. She was plenty scared, according to her report, and whatever the creature was, she felt it knew how terrified she was and enjoyed her discomfort. She began to back away from the beast and return to the house.
The beast followed her back to the house part of the way as she retreated — stopping only at times when she yelled at it. She explained in her report that the beast was tall, dark…and looked like it had the snout of a bear. However, she knew it wasn’t a bear or person and the creature’s actions and mannerisms made her feel it was not there for a meal of chickens.
The second harrowing experience was had by a family that were stalked by a particularly cunning manwolf which was hanging around their barnyard in a rural area of Norton, Ohio; a city just west of Akron.
In the account titled The Norton Chicken Thief, the creature stalked and terrorized a woman and her college student son, Drew, during multiple encounters in 2010. Notably, these encounters are not of the timid variety and suggest an intelligence level not associated with a natural animal. As an example, the creature rushed toward her window, one time, scaring her immensely. The sound of it walking on the property, with the same distinctive “no-nonsense” way her son walked, had her convinced it learned to walk by watching her son. The creature was mimicking his gait which is something particularly frightening to contemplate, if true.
In another instance of seemingly malevolent intelligence, the Chicken Thief nabbed a rooster left outside of the chicken coop one night and held it hostage on the opposite side of a fence while the rooster clucked pitifully in pain. This caused Drew to go outside, gun in hand, and attempt to fetch the bird and scare off the creature. Eventually, the creature let it go and the bird ran under the fence where the young man lifted a section to pass through.
A couple of nights later, the same incident with the rooster and the creature happened again and, although he never got a good look at all of it, what he saw “made his blood run cold.” What’s surprising about the incident, Godfrey tells us, “Is that the creature did not just make off with the rooster.” The beast was already on the opposite side of the fence so it’s hard to understand why any coyote, wolf or wild dog would allow its prey to escape.
Godfrey theorized perhaps the creature was familiar with guns and it may have been scared the young man might give pursuit and shoot it. She noted these type of mannerisms exhibited by the creature seemed quite uncanny, indicating a thought process able to discern “cause-and-effect actions.”
The other possibility, she added, is the Norton Chicken Thief was moving up the food chain to a human meal by baiting the young man with the rooster in an attempt to lure him out and eat him. While a frightening concept to ponder, it does offer reasonable explanation as to why the creature would capture the rooster twice and just let it go. Too bad you can’t get a restraining order against six foot-tall cryptid stalkers!
Although the stars of the reality werewolf rodeo in The Michigan Dogman are mainly werewolf-like animals, there are other weird creatures skulking in cornfields, roads and the woods across the United States waiting to terrify us, according to eyewitness accounts. This unnatural world is explored by Godfrey at length, and there’s a slew of creatures to read about. From baboons and chupacabras in Texas, to the highly publicized account of the Bearwolf of Holy Hill in Wisconsin; the sheer volume of stories about cryptids makes you wonder if something has really happened to these unfortunate souls as you read along.
As an added benefit, there are enough side stories and lore in the book to add additional flavor for those not exclusively interested in stories about dogmen. Which is fantastic because, even though there are different details about the dogmen, they could all blur together and become boring if things weren’t mixed up a little. There’s just so many accounts.
Linda Godfrey recognizes this, it’s good to know your audience, and peppers captivating details in just the right amounts and places. She’s adept at adding interesting information, including Native American lore, European legends and the cryptid’s seemingly environmental preferences, throughout the book. For the record, not a spoiler though, they are encountered by water and military bases quite often.
Ultimately, her technique and writing style enthralls the reader, preventing them from putting the book down, all the way towards the end where she offers up explanations of what the Michigan Dogmen and other strange creatures could actually be.
So, just what are these elusive manwolves, anyway? According to the book, there could be several explanations. Theories range from the mundane to the outrageous, according to Godfrey, “with no clear winner between them.”
There are some who believe they are spiritual creatures possibly conjured into existence by shamans or occult practitioners, while others hypothesize ferocious dog soldiers are traveling between our world to theirs periodically — stopping for the occasional deer snack before they return back from where they came. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention timewalkers traveling through portals as a possible source of manwolf sightings, along with a connection to space travel and UFOs.
Cases of mistaken identity may also be at the root of some of the sightings, according to the author. Maybe the big, bad wolf is just that…a sighting of a regular wolf an alarmed person may exaggerate and formulate into something bigger, meaner; with imagined surreptitious motives. Fear-fueled imagination and lack of experience regarding knowing how big an actual wolf may be could also come into play. However, in any event, this fails to explain those cryptids sighted walking on four legs.
On the other hand, there are also theories put forward arguing electromagnetic energy may be at the heart of all sorts of werewolf sightings and other cryptids occasionally seen walking around. Similarly, there are also phantom theories related to psychokinetic energy (PKE); a ‘holdover energy’ building up over time and manifesting in the shape of a bipedal canine in one’s mind.
The phantom theory isn’t far-fetched, either, according to Godfrey, citing a 1998 British experiment termed the Ghost in the Machine “where sound waves played at a particular low-frequency – 19 Hz – can induce visions of spectral figures. The experiments have shown that certain frequencies of infra sound can produce feelings of dread and fear and symptoms such as chills or nausea, all common features of encounters with cryptids,” she tells us.
A study in Switzerland this year also yielded hallucinatory results that created ghostly figures in a laboratory setting, demonstrating that specters may only be an illusion created by a person’s mind when they temporarily lose track of their body’s location because of exertion, stress or illness.
According to the Telegraph article, Ghosts created by scientists in ‘disturbing’ lab experiment, people in the Swiss study who were “experiencing extreme physical or emotional pain often claim to have seen ghostly outlines or felt that departed loved ones were back in the room with them.” The studies were so disturbing that the participants begged for it to stop. You can understand why after knowing they saw up to four ghosts positioned around them and felt the ghosts touch them with invisible fingers.
Researchers have long suspected that these ghosts are an illusion, a byproduct of the mind, and persons who suffer from psychiatric or neurological or conditions often tell of ‘strange presences.’ Perhaps dogmen and other artificial specters may be terrorizing people via hallucinations caused by these conflicts of sensory-motor signals. Other speculation kicked around in The Michigan Dogman offer theories of perhaps a new species of animal. These creatures could simply be a natural, ‘cryptozoolgical beast’ roaming around, protected from discovery by the seclusion of their habitat. Have wolves evolved and gained the ability to ambulate on two legs? Maybe.
Then there is, of course, the familiar one we know best because of its use in popular media – the human transformation into a werewolf. Certainly not to the author’s discredit (actually to her credit for honesty and accuracy) but this part of the book is the only weakness where some readers may find fault. Fans of popular werewolf horror movies may be put off by the real-account story telling technique that avoids disingenuously dramatizing or sensationalizing the facts.
Fans of the genre accustom to their werewolves transforming by the quick (and corny) styling in “New Moon” may have some adjusting to do when reading The Michigan Dogman – (yes, the ‘skinwalkers’ in the “Twilight” series literally burst out of their human shells like popcorn and look rather silly – sorry, Team Jacob). The same can be said for those who enjoy werewolf transformations via the slow method of joint and sinew stretching, bone folding and all other drippy, messy gore these popular werewolves of fiction go through.
The lack of embellishment, popular in headline news and the horror movies many of us watch, feels intentional on the part of Godfrey, and she stays true and respectful to witness accounts by leaving it out of The Michigan Dogman. For those necessary changes she does make, she clearly states “to paraphrase or edit for spelling, punctuation, clarity and brevity as needed – whatever it takes to best tell their tale in a reader friendly way that is still faithful to the report.”
For those of us who like our werewolves real (allegedly) and mysterious, the fantastical world that Linda Godfrey creates in The Michigan Dogman suits us just fine.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Michigan Dogman: Werewolves and Other Unknown Canines Across the USA, close the blinds (those dogmen love to peek in windows, they say), and curl up and read it in its entirety in one huge binge session.