Dogman: there is no doubt that it's the modern day version of the centuries-old werewolves. That’s right: the creatures that you thought could never live, but…do live. For years I have followed stories of the werewolf-type, and, from my perspective, the phenomenon is totally real. Even though the mystery provokes rolling eyes and shaking heads. So, why am I bringing this issue up with you right now? Well, a few months ago a man named Josh Turner, who has had his very own, amazing, Dogman encounter, decided to put on an event that would really make people open their eyes. And wide eyes, too. It was a few weeks afterwards that Josh invited me to speak at his then-forthcoming event. The Dogman, Cryptid Conference. I didn’t just say “Yes!” I said: “Hell, yes!” Other speakers were getting on-board, too and…well, you get the picture. A date was made - and the Dogman was about to be unleashed, so to speak.
Other presenters were invited to get the wheels moving. That included cryptozoologists – and good mates – Ken Gerhard and Lyle Blackburn. And, just about all of the key Dogmen investigators were in attendance: Ron Murphy, D.A. Roberts, Joedy Cook, Barton Nunnelly, Bettina Moss, Elijah Henderson, Tony Merkel, Jay Tucker, and Josh Nannochio. Things began with one of my favorite things: a road-trip. And this one was certainly no different; it was a fine drive for all of us: it was around 600 miles each way. People were coming from various areas of the country, hitting the road, and anticipating what might be revealed. So, with snacks, loud and cool music, drinks, and fun chats, we hit the road at high-speed. Not before we almost got slammed by some maniac in his car, though. Luckily, a bit of careful driving just about saved our part of the team. Just another night in the field of the weird. After our first, mammoth, drive, it was all about hanging out, chatting with friends old and new, and anticipating tomorrow. It turned out that all went really well.
Saturday was a great day. Just about everyone in their seats was wondering just what might happen. After all, we are talking about the closest things to real-life werewolves. Everyone embraced the mystery, the high-strangeness, and the lectures. Things began with good words for Linda Godfrey, someone, who has sought to find the Dogmen for much of her life. Then, it would not be long before the crowd of around three hundred people took to their seats. Josh hit the stage and introduced the speakers. And we had lift-off, so to speak.
Theories as to what the Dog-Men really might be abounded everywhere. It’s not surprising, though, because the creatures are so fascinating in multiple areas: in the paranormal, in the supernatural and even in the occult. And, of course, there are those who are sure that the beasts are a form of a large wolf that can walk in an upright fashion. That brings me to something else, the Dire Wolves: they were very large and powerful wolves that lived thousands of years ago and that were far more monster-like than animal. Were Dogmen really still-surviving Dire Wolves? I say "almost probably not," but, admittedly, it is an intriguing concept. The idea that at least some Dogmen might have been mistaken for hairless bears was put forward at the gig. Have you ever seen a photo of a huge bear completely without its hair? It looks downright creepy! There was also the theory that people who think they have seen Dogmen really encountered Bigfoot creatures. Of course, the huge elephant in the room – namely, the fact that wolves have muzzles and the Bigfoot beasts most definitely do not – provoked a great deal of controversy. And, guess what? It did exactly that.
David Weatherly, an expert in the Skinwalker phenomenon, - and in the Black-Eyed Children controversy, too - shared his thoughts about the Dogman. David’s words included matters relative to the Trickster phenomenon, the shape-shifting Djinn, and the fear of those same creatures. And, the Skinwalkers’ extremely notable ability to run on both two legs and four. That these creatures – both the Skinwalkers and the Dogmen - can provoke illness (physical and psychological) in people is not a good thing, at all. In fact, it’s downright sinister – as the audience quickly found out. More impressive: some of these creatures have been seen running around up to sixty miles per hour, no less. There was more on the matter of shapeshifting, much of it tied to such animals as the crow, the raven, were-hyenas and multiple other animals that seem to be part flesh-and-blood and part-paranormal. Shapeshifters, it appears, are everywhere.
I found it fascinating that there was a kind of split between some of the Dogmen enthusiasts. The paranormal angle kept surfacing in the lecture-room, as did the theory that these creatures were simply unknown animals – albeit, animals that were able to hide themselves to amazing degrees. Burial rites, ancient mounds, and witches; they all came to the fore as the picture of the Dogman grew and grew. One of the questions put to me was somewhat like this: “Do you think the Dogmen can jump portals and dimensions?” I have no issues stating that “Yes!” I’ve heard of so many cases that seem to allow these creatures to exist in our world, but also in what I can only term a strange “elsewhere."
There was a very fascinating incident that I shared with the audience. It goes back to 2002. I was in a state of sleep paralysis – in my bedroom. As I believe that sleep paralysis has an external, supernatural aspect to it (rather than it being due to the mysteries of the mind), I feel it’s relevant to share the story here. I had gone to bed, I had an extremely curious encounter. It was around 4:00 a.m. and I was awake and yet not awake. And I couldn’t move. I was suddenly aware that something was slowly heading down the corridor of my duplex that linked the bedroom to the living room. That something was a humanoid figure with the head of a wolf. It was attired in a long, flowing black cape. It emitted strange and rapid growling noises that seemed to be an unintelligible language. And the creature, whatever its origin was, seemed mightily pissed off about something. As it closed in on the room, I made a supreme effort to move my rigid, paralyzed form and finally succeeded, just as the beast entered the bedroom. In an instant it was gone and I was wide-awake. After I specifically mentioned this to the audience, a woman came up to me and said she, too, had experienced that “growling language.”
As for my lecture, it was on the subject of a bizarre werewolf case from the now long gone summer of 1972. Located in northwest Ohio, the small and picturesque town of Defiance is home to around 17,000 people and has origins which date back to the latter part of the 18th century. In the summer of 1972, Defiance became a hotspot for monster-seekers when locals reported a shapeshifting werewolf in their midst. Thankfully, the beast did not stay around for too long at all; but, from July to August of that year the man-beast most assuredly left its creepy calling-card and, as a result, the town was quickly under whatcan only be called "siege." Children were kept indoors after school. The local police carefully combed the neighbourhood, and by both day and night. And werewolf fever was just about everywhere in town. The very first encounter occurred on July 25, in the early hours of the morning. The unfortunate soul who came face to face with the creature was a railroad employee, working an early-hours shift. As the man switched a train to another track on the Norfolk and Western railroad – in the area of Fifth Street and Swift and Co. - he was suddenly confronted by a large, humanoid figure that had apparently been stalking him from the shadows.
Dressed in ragged clothing, covered in dark hair, and with a face that closely resembled that of a wolf or a German Shepherd dog, it rendered the man frozen to the spot with overwhelming terror. That was most unfortunate, given that the fanged beast had a large brick in its huge paw, which it used to pound the fear-filled man on his left shoulder. Fortunately for the hysterical man, the beast raced off into the darkness, leaving his shaking victim curled up into a ball on the floor. And there was something else, too: the night of the attack was a full moon. That was hardly the end of things, however. Rather, matters had just begun...
What about an entire “pack” of werewolves? In this case, at the legendary Cannock Chase woods of central England, that’s exactly what I spoke about, too. The woods and forests of England are inviting and picturesque. They are, however, filled with terrible things that provoke fear and hysteria. One of them – a hideous shapeshifter – plunged a small community into a collective state of fear in 2007. The Cannock Chase is a large and ancient area of forest in central England; in 1958, it was officially designated as an “area of outstanding beauty” by the local government. While 1958 is not that long ago at all, it’s important to note that the area itself has been a wild and mysterious one not just for decades, or even centuries. But for millennia, even. For example, in the village of Cannock Wood, on the fringes of the Chase, there stands the remains of an Iron Age hill-fort, one which was constructed by the Cornovii people, a Celtic band that held sway over much of the area at the time. It is known locally as the Castle Ring. Numerous reports of creatures resembling Bigfoot, large black cats, and even a Mothman-like entity with fiery eyes have surfaced from the Castle Ring.
The saga began in March 2007, when a local paranormal investigations group, the West Midlands Ghost Club, found itself on the receiving end of something extremely weird and surely unanticipated: a stash of reports of werewolf-like beasts seen lurking among the old gravestones. The story of how the WMGC came to be involved, and the nature of the encounters can be found at their online article, “But I’m Alright Naaooooowwwwwww!!!!!” Such was the interest that the reports provoked, Mike Lockley, the then-editor of the local – and now defunct – newspaper, the Chase Post, gave the story a great deal of page-space. To the extent that the publicity brought in even more reports. For around three months, the good folk of the Cannock Chase found themselves plunged into a controversy that had at its heart sinister shape-shifting monsters that dwelled among the long dead. It was a controversy that very soon was destined to become filled with terror and hysteria. All of this made its way into the lecture, showing that Dogmen-type creatures are in the U.K.
The morphing monsters of the Cannock Chase were not typical of the old legends, however. In other words, this was most assuredly not a case of witnesses reporting people changing into werewolves (or vice-versa). No, they were wolf-like creatures that had the ability to alter their body structure, thus allowing them to walk on both four legs and two. Something amazing, for sure. As the event started to wind down, new friends were being made, good food was being eaten, and hundreds of people had come to realize that there really are strange and sinister creatures that do seem to look just like werewolves. And that are deadly and dangerous, and that should be avoided whenever and wherever possible. Of course, though, most of us in the building – and that included me - would say “screw that” and, instead, would head off into the woods to find a few muzzle-faced monsters! Here’s to the next Dogman gig.