I was recently asked for my thoughts on the phenomenon of what has become known as the Dogman. Well, there's no doubt in my mind that the mystery is a real one. Of course, the big question is: what are these strange creatures? Are they flesh and blood animals? Might they be creatures of the supernatural type? Or, could they even be a strange combination of the two? Let's see. The phenomenon largely began in 1991. That was when the people of the city of Elkhorn, Wisconsin - which has a population of around 11,000 - were swamped by reports of creatures that eerily sounded like werewolves. In other words, they looked like wolves, but they had the uncanny - sinister, even - ability to walk and run on their back legs - and in an upright fashion. Of course, and as far as we know, no such animal exists. That hasn't stopped numerous people from seeing the creatures, however. It's largely thanks to a journalist and author named Linda Godfrey, who wrote for the Walworth County Week newspaper, that the mystery escalated. When Linda was assigned to the story, it became clear - and quickly, too - that this was a big story. Sightings were hardly scarce. In fact, they became many in number. People were scared. They had good reason to be.
Linda told me the following: "The story first came to my attention in about 1991 from a woman who had heard rumors going around here in Elkhorn, and particularly in the high school, that people had been seeing something like a werewolf, a wolf-like creature, or a wolf-man. They didn’t really know what it was. But some were saying it was a werewolf. And the werewolf tag has just gotten used because I think that people really didn’t know what else to call it." There was far more to come, as Linda notes: "I started checking it out. I talked to the editor of The Week newspaper here, and which I used to work for. He said, 'Why don’t you check around a little bit and see what you hear?' This was about the end of December. And being a weekly newspaper that I worked for, we weren’t really hard news; we were much more feature oriented. So, I asked a friend who had a daughter in high school and she said, 'Oh yeah, that’s what everybody’s talking about.' So, I started my investigations and got one name from the woman who told me about it. She was also a part-time bus driver.
"In my first phone call to the bus driver, she told me that she had called the County Animal Control Officer. So, of course, when you’re a reporter, anytime you have a chance to find anything official that’s where you go. I went to see him and, sure enough, he had a folder in his file draw that he had actually marked Werewolf, in a tongue-in-cheek way. People had been phoning in to him to say that they had seen something. They didn’t know what it was. But from their descriptions, that’s what he had put. So, of course, that made it a news story. When you have a public official, the County Animal Control Officer, who has a folder marked Werewolf, that’s news. It was very unusual." To be sure!
Linda added: "It just took off from there and I kept finding more and more witnesses. At first they all wanted to stay private, and I remember talking about it with the editor and we thought we would run the story because it would be over in a couple of weeks. The story was picked up by Associated Press. Once it hit AP, everything broke loose, and people were just going crazy. All the Milwaukee TV stations came out and did stories, dug until they found the witnesses, and got them to change their minds and go on camera, which some of them later regretted. And which I kind of regret, because it really made them reluctant, and kind of hampered the investigation."
Linda added: "They were all mostly saying that they had seen something which was much larger than normal, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four, with a wolfish head. Some described it as a German Shepherd-like head, pointed ears, very long, coarse, shaggy, and wild-looking fur. One thing they all mentioned was that it would turn and look at them and gaze fearlessly or leer at them, and it was at that point that they all got really frightened. Everybody who has seen it – with the exception of one – has been extremely scared because it’s so out of the ordinary. It was something they couldn’t identify and didn’t appear to be afraid of them. It would just casually turn around and disappear into the brush. It was never just out in the open where it didn’t have some sort of hiding place. There was always a cornfield or some brush or some woods. So, that was pretty much the start of it."
From there, matters escalated even more. More and more reports surfaced. But, it wasn't just modern day encounters that were appearing. Linda was on the receiving end of a story of a Dogman that dated back to no less than 1936. Clearly, whatever the beast were, they had a long history in the area - albeit, it seems, in a very stealthy fashion. Until 1991, that is, when the creatures seemingly decided to make their presence known on a greater level - and time and time again. It's fair to say that, since then, Linda has become the "go to" investigator for this strange puzzle. Indeed, such is the level of data on this subject, Linda has written a number of books on the subject. They include Hunting the American Werewolf, The Michigan Dogman and Werewolves. Not only that, since 1991 the numbers of sightings of such monsters have escalated to incredible levels. The above material provides you with the background data on the history and development of the Dogman phenomenon. In Part 2 of this article we'll take a look at the theories for what the Dogmen (and, we should assume, the Dogwomen, too) are. Those theories are fascinating and intriguing. Wild, too. They include aliens, supernatural creatures, an unknown type of wolf, and even real werewolves.