I may be cursed by dog people.
But more likely than that, I just have very odd luck when it comes to local legends.
Living in Michigan all my life and moving around several times, I’ve been to very unique rural areas with varying urban legends and myths.
Most were fairly innocuous and based off of rumor or hearsay like most urban legends are.
But once I moved near Cadillac in the little village of Harrietta, I began hearing tales of one figure that haunted Wexford County.
A beast that went only under the alias of the Dogman.
The Dogman of Wexford County is a werewolf-like figure that supposedly roams the northern woods of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, including the wooded area where I used to live.
The legend reached mainstream popularity when radio DJ Steve Cook created a song based around fabricated stories about the legend only to later learn that a similar supernatural myth truly existed with stories dating back to Paleo-American tribes.
Unique to the Dogman is that it appears in 10-year cycles, appearing only on years that end with “7.”
Reports across and near Wexford county described the creature as standing at least 7 feet and 4 inches with ghastly, sunken in eyes that reside behind a grotesquely human-like muzzle.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Dogman was how human the stories always made the creature sound.
It would toy around with those lost in the forest, disguising itself as a normal dog before emerging upright and attacking its victims. It had been said to stare through the windows of unsuspecting cabin-dwellers, smiling at them as it makes eye contact.
The Dogman may not be a single entity either as packs of feral dogs were often said to roam near where the creature was seen. Though a fabricated account, Cook’s song describes a scene where a widow’s cabin was surrounded by a pack of dogs who stood upright led by the Dogman.
Along with the Dogman, my proximity to Canada allowed legends of the Waheela to bleed in, another humanoid canine that has its roots in Native American folklore.
The Waheela was certainly less prominent in the local culture, but the legends often meshed together into one conglomerate tale.
I’m not one to immediately buy into most cryptozoology, but the amount of eyewitness testimonies that I heard during my time living in the area at the very least terrified me as a child.
Now other cryptids are usually fairly well known across certain regions, like Bigfoot or the Jersey Devil, but most folks I’ve talked to in Monroe County know absolutely nothing about the Dogman.
However, I did learn about another local legend, Dog Lady Island.
Formally known as Kausler’s Island, Dog Lady Island houses the tale more grounded rather than based solely on the supernatural.
There are different variations of the story, but one of the more prominent versions tells of a widow that roamed the island with her multiple dogs after her husband passed, eventually growing feral and developing more canid features.
While the island remains primarily uninhabited, the legend has become one to tell in the dark scare away children and keep them in line in the vein of “Red Riding Hood” while others insist that somehow the creature the woman turned into is still alive and roams the island to this day.
While I take these stories less seriously than I did as a child, I still get chills and goosebumps recalling them and writing them down. Perhaps it’s out of excitement, terror or a mix of both.
Nevertheless, whether these tales are mere fiction, any time I visit friends up north, I take the ending lines of Cook’s song dead serious.
“The best advice you may ever get is don’t go out at night.”