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The Michigan Dogman And The Gable Film Hoax

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It is said that stories about a man-beast with a dog's head and human body walking upright around Michigan have been circulating as far back as 1887. Others point out that Native tribes of Michigan have had legends of people turning into animals that go back even farther in the state's history.

One thing is certain: We seem entertained by the whole thing.

Let's look at how this story came about and some of the sightings in years past.


Credit: vikinghiccup, deviantART. Some rights reserved.


A Michigan man named Robert Fortney claims to have had an encounter with the strange creature along the Muskegon River as far back as 1938. He saw the beast along the river and immediately let out a shot from his rifle which scared the canine-man away.

Some years later, and many stories since, in 1987, Steven Cook, music director and DJ for WTCM radio in Traverse City, wrote and performed a song about the legend on his radio show. For April Fool's Day. Well, not taken as a joke, many of the state's residents took it very seriously and the trend of reporting sightings of the Dogman was ignited.

A man, only known as "Ben", claimed when he was a teenager, back in 1993, he witnessed the manimal while hiking in the Hofma Nature Preserve. Another time, he said he saw the creature in the driveway of his family's home, rising up from behind the family's car. By 1994, when he was walking to the beach, he said he had seen the beast snatch a deer out in an open area among the dunes. [1]

Another man claims to have seen the monster along the Ausable River while camping. He said things got real quiet where he was camping, like all the animals had been chased away, and that's when he saw the creature across the river. He investigated the area the next day and discovered paw prints, in pairs not fours, and not pointed straight ahead but angled as if the animal were balancing on two legs. The prints were not the size of a wolf's paws but more the size of a bear's. [2] The man also says as a child he'd tracked such prints to a woman's farm where he was told by the owner of the farm that her chickens had been mysteriously mutilated.

Scary Werewolf

Another Scary Werewolf
Credit: blake2310, deviantART. Some rights reserved.

Mike Agrusa Plays A Joke On Us

So, back in 2007, a film surfaced on the Internet that seemed to confirm these reports of the scary Werewolf creeping in the northern US. The movie was a digital copy of an 8mm film that seemingly had been recorded in the 1970s, judging by style of hair and dress and the vehicles in the film. It shows people doing day to day fun stuff, riding a snow mobile, working on a truck, a dog sniffing around and sometimes acting nervous. Near the end of the film, while the camera man is filming along the road, riding in a vehicle, a weird animal is spotted off the road  in the snow. The camera man gets out of the vehicle to get a closer look. All of a sudden, the creature charges toward him, the camera is violently shaken and tossed about and ends up lying on its side. Then the film ends.

The film seems rather horrifying, as if we are witness to a terrifying and tragic incident caught on tape. For a few years, many Web surfers were excited about this strange film and many believed it to be a real documentation of the legendary Dogman. In 2008, a sequel to the film was even released, showing the aftermath of the grizzly attack. And people were still believing that it was all real.

Fast forward to 2010, and the hit TV show MonsterQuest puts on an expose of the film. On the show it is demonstrated that the movie was a hoax and Steve Cook, the writer of the famous Dogman song, was interviewed, along with prankster film-maker Mike Agrusa who created the  Gable Film. [3]

Turns out Mr. Agrusa put the film together for fun. He had some old vintage vehicles, got a hold of an 8mm camera and also bought a Ghillie Suit (which he wears to play the Dogman). The shot at the end of the film that looks like teeth gnashing at the camera was a Halloween mask and some fancy stop-action animation. In Gable 2, where we get to see the aftermath of the dog attack, fake guts that were made by Agrusa were used; he put himself in a hole in the ground with the fake entrails lying in back of him and partly covered by his shirt, to simulate the mutilated leftovers of the Dogman.

He made a convincing and, most will admit, entertaining film: Good amusement when you're bored and cruising around the Net.

Of course, not everyone was happy with the fact that the film was a hoax. Not everyone gets the joke.

But Steve Cook did. He was in on it. Mike Agrusa came to him after the movie was completed to show him the final product. Both men kept the secret for years. They'd already revealed the secret before MonsterQuest "exposed" it, though. [4]

Well, it's all good fun. And it's creative. As far as I'm concerned Agrusa should make more films. I think he's got a real talent.


We like to be scared. Though afraid of it, we like the unknown. Film-makers tap into this urge in us to explore and discover and to be excited by it. Mike Agrusa tapped into it. His product created quite a stir and gives us a lot to talk about.

Just really makes you wonder if he has any plans in store or who will be the next one to surprise and scare the life out of us.

Legend of Michigan's Dogman: Legacy Edition
Amazon Price: $11.25 $6.75 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 17, 2014)


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  1. Kevin Collier "Legendary Dogman seen in Ottawa County?." Grand Haven Tribune. 16/9/2013. 16/11/2014 <Web >
  2. "Michigan Dogman." Werewolf Page. 16/11/2014 <Web >
  3. Xavier Ortega "MonsterQuest: 'Gable Film' Mystery Solved." Ghost Theory. 25/3/2010. 16/11/2014 <Web >
  4. Steve Cook "The Last Word." The Dogman Blog. 26/3/2010. 16/11/2014 <Web >

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