Stories from History: The Made-up Dogman

This story should be a reminder that things can quickly grow beyond the small frames that we build for them. We build a cage for our thoughts and creations, but the successful ones inevitably fight their way out of this limitation. It is when they take on a life of their own that the creator has to look on in awe, wondering how this place was reached at all.

This has to be one of my favorite oddities to meander its way out of history. If you’ve ever been to Michigan, or know someone from there, you might have heard the stories about the Michigan Dogman. There were stories about a Dogman, occasionally DogMan, who attacked and killed horses and people alike. Sometimes leading a pack of wild dogs, he is described as either a man with a dog’s head, or a dog who walked only on two legs. There are piercing blue eyes and the creature stands a height of seven feet when standing on its hind legs.

Except all of it is made-up. In 1987 there was a radio jockey who played a song as an April Fool’s joke. Sightings immediately skyrocketed and have not gone down ever since. The Wikipedia page for Dogman suggests that the first recorded sighting was a convenient 100 years prior to the song being played on the radio. Digging into the sources, however, doesn’t fully support this.

Cook himself told the Detroit Free Press in 2011 that he made the entire thing up, whole cloth from his imagination. The stories that came out to support the existence of the Dogman only came to light after the song first played. Their evidence, if we’re being charitable, shows little to no evidence of existing prior to this song being played.

The Dogman myth is so much like the werewolf myths that exist around the world that most links to old myths feel watered down to the point where they mean nothing. These myths are able to shift and change, with details being suggested elsewhere. Every piece of “evidence” for this one has problems with it and can be explained by an overactive imagination or a person latching onto a story that they’ve heard. Even compared to other myths, the Dogman myth lacks much ground to stand upon.

Either way, it has latched into a small portion of the public consciousness. Even though it has apparently been invented whole cloth from nothingness, there are folks out there who swear that the myth is real and existed long before the song. Evidence, it turns out, doesn’t do much to sway the minds of these people.

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