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Ten Disturbing Dogman Sightings of the American Midwest

by Aaron Fox
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

The werewolf is one of the most iconic monsters of history, both fictional and historical. From the Legend of King Lycaon to the leading wolfman in, well, The Wolfman, the idea of a walking, upright half-wolf-half-man has invaded many a fantasy enthusiast’s imagination. One would be hard-pressed to call a werewolf a cryptid, though, and that is where our new friend, The Dogman, steps in.

Also referred to as “The Michigan Dogman,” “The Beast of Bray Road,” or simply as an “upright canid,” these de facto modern werewolves have been spotted from the start of the 20th century through to even this day. Most of the sightings, though, have taken place in the U.S. states of Michigan and Wisconsin. Here is a list of ten modern werewolf sightings in the areas around Lake Michigan, listed in order from earliest to latest. However, this list hardly scratches the flea-bitten surface of these mysterious canine encounters.

Related: Top 10 Cryptids You’ve Never Heard Of

10 1936: Racine, Wisconsin

MonsterQuest: Legend of the American Werewolf (S1, E14) | Full Episode | History

One of the first Dogman sightings to take place around the Great Lakes took place in the Wisconsin city of Racine, right on the western coast of Lake Michigan and very near to the border of Illinois.

A man by the name of Mark Shackleman was working as a night watchman for the St. Coletta Convent in 1936. One night, during his rounds, Shackleman saw a canine-looking, black-furred, and carrion-smelling creature with what he described as long claws. The dogman was kneeling and scratching at an Indigenous people’s burial ground near the convent, but he fled as soon as Shackleman approached to investigate.

He returned the next day, only to find footprints and claw marks, although, apparently, two of the fingers seemed to be withered, from what the night watchman could tell from the markings.

Shackleman, scheduled to work two nights in a row, went back the next night, and once again, he witnessed the creature scratching at the mound. However, this time, the animal didn’t run away; it stood up, six feet tall, and made eye contact with Shackleman. And then it spoke.

It was only one word, though less of an actual word, and more of a name: “Gadarah.” The nightwatchman summoned up his courage and refused to run away. He simply maintained eye contact before praying to God, turning around, and walking slowly away. The dogman sneered at Mark, still staring menacingly, but didn’t move. Mark Shackleman never saw the creature again, though he did often smell the dead meat scent.[1]

9 1938: Paris, Michigan

steve cook – the legend (full video)

Our next story takes us to Michigan and the domain of the Michigan Dogman. Though most pre-1987 sightings of the Dogman are showcased in Steve Cook’s April Fool’s Day song, “The Legend,” the story of Robert Fortney is one of the first to take place that doesn’t show up in the music. This is important to bring up because most of the werewolf encounters in Steve Cook’s piece are fictionalized, with Cook believing that he made the legend up. However, this story proves that The Dogman has actually, truly been around before his song was published in the late 1980s.

Robert Fortney was fishing one summer day on the Muskegon River, closest to the town of Paris, Michigan. The year was 1938, and Fortney was 17 years old. Suddenly, Fortney was attacked by a pack of wild dogs—six, as far as Fortney could count. The teenager was lucky to have his rifle handy. Before any of the dogs could lunge, he fired one warning shot into the air. After that, all of the dogs scattered, save for one.

This black-fur canine proved to be no ordinary dog, however, and as soon as the shot rang out, it proceeded to stare into Fortney’s eyes with his own piercing blue gaze from a distance of ten feet. Then, it started grinning. Not succumbing to fear, Robert Fortney fired one more warning shot, this time causing the maybe-werewolf to run off. However, instead of skedaddling on all fours, this would-be werewolf stood up to around six feet tall before running away on two legs.

Fortney would be one of the many callers that Steve Cook would receive in 1987, after putting his song, “The Legend,” on the radio. The creature that Cook made up as a prank turned out to be very, very real to the long-time Michigan native, Robert Fortney.[2]

8 1961: Big Rapids, Michigan

Dogman Encounter Big Rapids, Michigan 1961

This next story is one of the rare encounters in which someone allegedly captured a photograph of this upright canid cryptid.

It was the year 1961, though the anonymous narrator fails to specify which month it is. It was around three in the morning in the Michigan town of Big Rapids, where the unknown source was up late at night at his home. He lived right across from the manufacturing plant that he worked at as a night watchman. The plant sat right next to the Haymarsh State Game area, and this is where the source claims to have seen someone, or something, making noise by the chain-link fence bordering the property.

Thinking it was an intruder, the narrator goes from his work to his house to grab a gun, but when he returns outside, he instead sees a six-foot-tall, greyish/brownish upright canid shambling about in his driveway. Thinking quickly on his feet, the anonymous source rushes into his house to try and grab his camera instead.

When he returned outside, the dogman was already out of his driveway and further into the dark street. However, at one point, the creature did move near a streetlight, where the anonymous source was able to snap one of maybe four or five alleged pictures of the Michigan Dogman before it ran off into the night.[3]

7 1988: Alto and Lowell, Michigan

Dogman haunts Northern Michigan once more

This story is remarkable in as much as it details a man who claims that a dogman has followed him since he was young, with two separate encounters spanning twenty years apart.

The first one takes place in 1988, in Alto, Michigan, just southeast of the city of Grand Rapids. The anonymous source, in elementary school at the time, was playing during recess, around ten in the morning. He decided to run out into the woods adjacent to the elementary school playground to hide (and also cheat) at the game of War. He made his way to a river by some train tracks when he heard a huge splash and witnessed a dark-furred dogman bolt into the woods, switching between two and four legs to run before disappearing.

At this point, the narrator ran straight home to his bed, keeping silent about his sighting until adulthood. He described it as 8-ish feet tall, 300 pounds, blue-eyed this time, and seeming almost like a timber wolf, but upright and with longer legs.

The second sighting took place in the nearby town of Lowell in the winter of 2008. The anonymous man now has a family, all sleeping soundly, when he heard a thud on the roof. His canine-related childhood memories immediately flooded back without prompting.

He quietly snuck outside, and that was when the very same blue-eyed dogman poked his head out from the top of the roof, staring directly at him. Then, the dogman leaped thirty feet from the roof and bolted on all fours to the tree line, only to stand up and stare at the anonymous man for a full minute. He fully ran at the dogman with a machete that he had brought with him. The dogman just stared at him, almost grinning now before uttering a single, audible “Don’t.” The man stopped dead in his tracks and was overwhelmed by a supreme, weird sense of calm. He dropped his machete and backed away slowly, and the dogman turned and walked calmly into the woods, disappearing.[4]

6 1989: Elkhorn, Wisconsin

The Beast of Bray Road and “Embracing the Strange” | Flyover Culture

Bray Road is a modest stretch of road running east from the modest Wisconsin town of Elkhorn. It is also the particular stretch of road in which the Beast of Bray Road gets his name, though a sighting in 1989 would be the first in this beastly cryptid’s illustrious career.

It is a brisk fall night, around 1:30 am. All is dark and quiet on the backcountry Bray Road, connecting Highway 11 and County Road NN. Lori Endrizzi is driving home from her job as a manager of an Elkhorn lodge, and that’s when she sees it. At the side of the road, a dark-brownish-grey figure is kneeling with its back turned to her, short pointed ears being the only real thing to stand out.

As Endrizzi drove closer, it turned, showing off its strangely canine face. “Its elbows were up, and its claws were facing out, so I knew it had claws,” claims Endrizzi. “I remember the long claws.” Those claws seemed to be holding roadkill, and its eyes reflected the glow of her headlights. It appeared to be five-foot-seven and 150 pounds, from what she could tell at a fleeting glance.

However, unlike most wild animals, this canine creature didn’t run off but instead gazed directly into her eyes. Endrizzi drove off. She felt as if it were so like a human that there could be no trace of a wild animal being felt in those eyes. “To this day, I believe it was satanic,” she says, “It was just my feeling. I don’t really believe in werewolves, per se, but I believe something could be conjured up. My grandmother was very religious, and she believed it too.”

At some point later, Lori Endrizzi went to report her story to the Walworth County Animal Control, and hers would be one of the first to enter into animal control officer Jon Fredrikson’s manila envelope labeled “Werewolf,” and where the first of many sightings of the Beast of Bray Road would first be collected.[5]

5 1991: Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Was This Wisconsin Town Terrorized by a Werewolf?

The second story to enter into Jon Fredrikson’s report, however, wouldn’t take place until two years later. Though, it would happen on the exact same stretch of road where Lori Endrizzi saw her furred fiend.

Pat Lester, Lori Endrizzi’s mother, was a part-time school bus driver, and in 1991, she would actually have a student on her bus with a report of a walking dogman, except to further add to the legend of the Bray Road Beast, this one took place on Halloween night.

Doris Gipson was driving to a friend’s house to pick up another friend from a party when she hit something on the thoroughly foggy stretch of Bray Road, causing her front tires to lift off the ground. She got out of her car to investigate, thinking she had hit a small animal, but found signs of neither animal nor injury, so she made her way back to her car.

That was when it lunged at her through the fog; brown, straight fur, a canine face, a muscular frame, and striding on two legs. Gipson quickly bolted to her car door, not particularly in the mood to get a closer look. “I just put my foot on the gas pedal, and I started going.” However, as soon as she tried to pull out of there, the upright canid tried holding onto the rear bumper of the car to prevent it from getting away. It is claimed that deep scratch marks were etched into the car’s rear the next day.

This is not where the story ends, though. On the way back that night, Gipson’s new passenger and friend shouted, “Look at that thing!” The two of them saw the same muscular werewolf-esque being, and Gipson took roughly 0 seconds before deciding to put the pedal to the floor and get out of there.[6]

4 2006: Fitchburg, Wisconsin

Did We Just Find The BEAST OF BRAY ROAD? w/J. Nathan Couch! Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

One of the suburbs of Madison, Wisconsin’s capital, is Fitchburg, which lies to the southwest of the city. And it is in Fitchburg that this next 2006 encounter of a potential dogman takes place.

It is a cool night in fall, September to be exact, at around 2:00 am in the morning. A Minnesota college student named Matt was up late, working on his homework, when he heard strange, popping sounds, almost like bubble wrap being played with, coming from the walls. Then, all of a sudden, thousands upon thousands of birds were startled and flew off loudly, an odd thing for the middle of the night, and that was when he felt it—the tremors of a minor earthquake.

This answered all of the questions for Matt regarding the weirdness, so he went back to his work. That was when another sound pierced through the air, almost seeming to ring across the whole neighborhood: a blood-curdling, almost murder victim-like scream. Worried about potential harm stemming from the earthquake, Matt rushed outside. The screaming continued as he ran out into the street, and just as a car approached, shining its headlights, Matt saw something unusual in the glow of the car—a humanoid creature with a wolf-like head.

The screaming stopped, and the canine cryptid ran off as soon as the car approached, making it hard for Matt to parse out too many details. The car then stopped behind Matt, turning out to be a police officer, who proceeded to ask the college student, “Are you the one who called?” Apparently, though, the officer wasn’t checking up on any screaming, only on concerns coming from the earthquake itself. Still, after the officer left to investigate the neighborhood further, Matt would hear the same noise intermittently throughout the rest of the night, and indeed, a handful of nights afterward as well.[7]

3 2007: Reed City, Michigan

The Legend of Michigan’s Dogman- Documentary/encounters

This story takes place in the north-Michigan town of Reed City in November 2007. A man named Sam and his two friends were out hunting, each positioned in their own stand until 4:30 pm rolled around, and the sun started to set.

That was when the sounds of birds and insects completely stopped. A silence hung in the air for a minute but was broken by three deer running right past Sam in his stand, followed by a foul scent similar to a mothball. That was when it appeared; a hulking, hunched over, yellow-eyed, two-legged cryptid, breaking from the bushes to pursue the deer. Perturbed, Sam stayed put until his friends arrived, though they proceeded to make fun of him. Despite that, the three started to head home, opting to return the next day.

The day would prove to remain objectively calm until around 5 pm, when Sam heard shots being fired from about 100 feet away, followed by screaming from his walkie-talkie. His friend, panicked, described the exact same dogman that Sam had seen, though thankfully, it ran away this time as well. Either they lacked foresight or were sufficient in courage because they decided to hunt for two more days.

The third day of hunting was completely quiet in terms of dogman-related matters, but the fourth day proved that this canine cryptid was still on the prowl. This time, the pseudo-werewolf didn’t even wait until noon before he ran into a well-lit clearing, right in front of two of the three hunters. He stared at them directly and started grinning. Sam’s friend aimed a gun at the canid, and it ran off immediately, making a growling, hissing noise. About an hour later, the third friend radioed in, and said “Um, you guys, are you in a werewolf suit at my blind? Because it’s not funny.” Before Sam could answer, he heard five distinct shots ring out in the distance.

The third friend was safe, but Sam reported that he had deep, distinct claw marks in the butt of his rifle. When they returned to their cabin later, the trio saw the snowy ground riddled with large canine footprints and the very same claw marks embedded in the front door of the cabin.[8]

2 2009: Shelby, Michigan

The Michigan Dogman

This story takes place in the heart of the frigid, Michigan winter. On a cold right, thirty minutes to midnight, retired law enforcement officer Laura Love was riding shotgun with a friend of hers who, for the sake of this story, wished to remain anonymous, only being referred to as “C.” The two were heading north on US-31, near the West Weber Road overpass, when they had got a look at something lycanthropic on the cold, moderately snowy road.

“We saw a large, tall, dark, and oddly shaped creature run out from the left side of the overpass…” claimed Love, “and hit the rear quarter panel of the small truck in front of us, causing the truck to fish-tail.” The other truck didn’t even stop to check for damage; it just sped off. However, Love and her compatriot were able to get a look at the lunar-lit lupine.

She describes it as an almost seven-and-a-half feet tall, dark-furred, bipedal figure, with backward-looking knees and nearly a lion mane’s worth of fur sitting on its neck like a fancy fur collar from the twenties. She also claimed that the dogman had a face like a border collie.

The creature didn’t stop to put on any further show for its audience of two; it ran off, disappearing into a patch of weeds and trees. Love and C drove home silently, stunned, and didn’t discuss their encounter until they were in the safety of Love’s home. Only then were the two able to admit to each other that both had, indeed, seen the Michigan Dogman.[9]

1 2016: Duluth, Minnesota

#32 DOGMAN ENCOUNTERS from Minnesota and Wisconsin

Though barely outside the border of Wisconsin, the city of Duluth can be found in Minnesota, right at the westernmost point of Lake Superior. This report, taking place on November 7, 2016, comes from a graphic designer, though she wishes to keep her name anonymous. That being said, having skills in the arts did let her sketch up a pretty good drawing of what she saw.

It was a cold night on Maple Grove Road, a stretch of road that sits right at the border of residential Duluth and the more rural area to the northwest of town. The anonymous source witnessed an upright cryptid running from the edge of where the lampposts of the residential area are able to illuminate before dashing into a field with a very old barn. She described the creature as probably being seven feet tall if it were not running on all fours with an extremely hunched back. It had a wolfish face with a long snout and short, pointed ears, and it moved stiffly and awkwardly as if it were walking on its haunches like a gorilla.

The graphic designer was frozen for a second, watching the dogman move, until she saw a passing pair of headlights illuminate behind it, bringing into focus the creature’s silhouette much, much more clearly. She panicked and drove to a well-lit gas station, where she waited for her husband to come home, and she described an overwhelming, almost supernatural fear weighing down on her “like a thick sludge.”

The story doesn’t end there, though. As soon as the anonymous reporter told her family about the brief encounter, her sister confessed to having seen the same hunched wolf-like being years back, standing at the edge of her property and ominously staring into her house with piercing red eyes.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen