For a few creative people like WTCM radio producer Steve Cook and authors Linda Godfrey, Frank Holes, Jr., and David Walks-As-Bear, the Dogman has become something of a cottage industry. For $29.99 you can even get a Dogman hoodie.
It used to be that the Dogman was just out in the woods, said Holes, Jr., author of The Year of the Dogman and purveyor of Dogman merchandise on the Internet. Now, hes everywhere.
How the Dogman legend began is debatable, depending upon whom you ask. It was either hatched in the mind of WTCMs production director Steve Cook, born in a song inside a hollow log, passed down by generations of Native Americans, or is a real being and not just a legend after all.
In 1987 Cook wrote a song about the Dogman, The Legend, to be played on the radio as an April Fools Day gag.
The song, which features Cook telling the story to the accompaniment of mandolin played by local musician, Don Julin, begins like this:
Eleven lumberjacks near the Garland Swamp found an animal they thought was a dog.
In a playful mood they chased it around until it ran inside a hollow log.
A logger named Johnson grabbed him a stick and poked around inside.
Then the thing let out an unearthly scream and came out and stood upright.
Singles of The Legend went on to sell 50,000 copies, generate thousands of dollars for animal-based charities and stir up hundreds of reports of real Dogman sightings. This month, Cook put the finishing touches on a Collectors Edition media pack of The
Legend and bonus features via his Mindstage Production Co.
Im planning to expand it into a lot of new markets, Cook said. New radio markets, were going to have counter displays for retail markets, and weve got a music video we hope to get played on Country Music TV.
Inspired by his favorite scenes from the movie Nightstalker as well as the bigfoot and Jersey Devil stories he watched on television, Cook readily says that he created this thing out of thin air. After the song was played on the radio though, weird things started happening. People called the station and told him stories about their own Dogman sightings. Stories theyd been sitting on, sometimes for 50 years, and had never told anyone before. More than two decades later, people still pull him aside and tell him Dogman stories, and despite his skeptical nature, hes considering believing them.
If they dont exist, theres something out there that is causing credible people to see incredible things, Cook said.
TALES OF THE WEIRD
One of those credible people is author Linda Godfrey. A former small-town newspaper reporter, Godfrey wrote Weird Michigan, part of the popular Weird series published by Barnes & Nobles Sterling Publishing. She is the acknowledged expert on the Dogman, with three additional books published to date about the creature; The Beast of Bray Road, Hunting the American Werewolf, and Werewolves. Another title, Lake & Sea Monsters is forthcoming in July. In February, a television show about the Dogman that Godfrey produced aired on the History Channel as part of its Monster Quest series.
This is not a career that I ever expected, she said. My degree is in art! I only went to work at the paper to see if I could draw cartoons for them. But people cant get enough of it now.
Today, writers, researchers, scientists and documentary filmmakers from all over the world contact her and request access to her decades of research. Im going to hunt the werewolf, they write in their letters to her, so send me all of your files. Godfrey says her files are valuable and she prefers to keep them for her exclusive use. She doesnt mind helping fiction writers out with sightings details to fuel their imaginations, however. Two such writers, Frank Holes, Jr., author of The Year of the Dogman and David Walks-As-Bear, author of the Ely Stone mysteries and Witiku:The Shapeshifter, have called on her expertise to infuse their fiction.
A preview of the new collectors
edition of The Legend is available at www.michigan-dogman.com; Dogman swag is available at www.dogman07.com; and books by Godfrey, Holes, Jr., and Walks-As-Bear are available at
In its final stanza, Cooks song cautions the listener, Somewhere in the northwest dark a creature walks upright. The best advice you may ever get is Dont go out at night.
Mardi Links book, When Evil Came to Good Hart, will be published in July by the University of Michigan Press.