As April Fools' pranks go, few reach the heights of the 1987 prank perpetrated by Steve Cook and Jack O’Malley of the radio station WTMC in Traverse City. As an on-air stunt for the holiday, the pair manufactured a legend about a creature that was half man and half dog and roamed the forests of northern Michigan. The pair even created a back story/folklore for the creature, complete with a once-every-seven-years pattern of sightings and a song, The Legend, that was written to mimic the oral tradition of Native Americans.
When the song was played on the radio, however, it received an unexpected response: it prompted several area residents to call into the radio station with stories about their own encounters with The Dogman. Turns out, encounters with a dogman-type creature are riddled throughout the history of Northern Michigan and date back to an authentic Indian legend from the 1700s..
Still, the manufactured tale may have drifted into obscurity, but for an incident of property damage to a cabin in Luther, Michigan later than same year. When the police determined that a dog was responsible for the attack on the cabin, the news catapulted the legend to national attention and the song found a much bigger audience.
The Beast of Bray Road
The legend was further legitimized in 1992 when Linda S. Godfrey, who would later author the book Weird Michigan, published several articles about encounters with a werewolf-like creature in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Unbeknownst to Godfrey when she wrote the articles, the encounters with the Beast of Bray Road had several details in common with the Michigan Dogman.
- The Legend of Michigan’s Dogman website keeps track of all the encounter descriptions, physical evidence, photographs and tape recordings of the creature.
- The Legend of Michigan’s Dogman, CD/DVD that contains the song, music video and summary of evidence regarding the existence of the Michigan Dogman.
- The Weird Michigan website includes information and articles about Michigan’s Dogman.
- The Monsterquest, Season 1 DVD contains the American Werewolf episode wherein Wisconsin and Michigan reports were investigated.
- Weird Michigan, the book by Linda S. Godfrey.