Some eyewitnesses are convinced they have seen it — like one man who posted his opinion on an Internet message board.
“If you also live anywhere north of Grand Rapids in Michigan, how can you not know about the Dogman? It is one of the largest legends in the area and the story has been around for years,” he wrote. “It seems to me it is more than just a huge fantasy.”
The Dogman is reported to have a canine-like head, human-like body, reflective eyes and walks upright.
According to one Ottawa County resident, a creature fitting the description of the Dogman appeared in Grand Haven from 1993-94. “Ben,” who was a young teenager at the time, claims to have seen the creature not once, but three times. He believes each time he was seeing a different creature, in what could have been a pack taking refuge in a Grand Haven Township park.
In 1993, after dark, Ben was hiking the trails in Hofma Nature Preserve with as many as four friends when, passing the float bridge near the center of the preserve, they heard a sound to their right. Ben spied what resembled a dog standing behind a tree on a ridge above, approximately 70 feet away.
“I thought it was just a dog walking along, then it stood up on its hind legs,” Ben said. “One of its feet gripped a branch on the tree. Our eyes met and we just stared at each other for about five minutes, then it ran off.”
According to Ben, the second encounter occurred in December that same year in the driveway of his family’s home on Lakeshore Drive. Ben went outdoors in the cold to start his mother’s car.
“I only made it as far as the front bumper of the car,” he said.
The creature then rose up from behind the vehicle.
“It stood up on its hind legs, it had yellow eyes,” he explained. “I’m 6 foot, 8 inches tall, and it was staring down at me. I froze and began crying out.”
The creature took three incredible leaps and disappeared into the brush as Ben's family rushed out to the driveway.
According to Ben, his third encounter with the creature took place in 1994 when he and a cousin were walking after dark in the direction of the beach from Lakeshore Drive along the edges of dunes. As the two watched a deer standing in a clearing, an enormous dog-like creature rapidly snatched the animal and carried it off into the brush.
“We went down to the spot, and you could see where the deer tracks ended,” Ben said. “They vanished, leaving only tracks from that thing.”
There is also a tale that in early 1994 a car on Lakeshore Drive was involved in a collision with a large animal. It is said the occupants of the vehicle were uninjured and police determined it was a deer strike. The tale includes a witness that claimed gray fur covered the grill of the wrecked vehicle, but no blood or animal carcass was found. It was said the driver couldn’t explain what he hit.
As fantastic as the tales are, area folks have told similar stories for more than 50 years.
One of merit is from Robert Fortney, who may have encountered the beast as he stood on the banks of the Muskegon River in 1938. It was reported that a large black “dog” reared up on its hind legs and stared at Fortney, who shot at the creature, which then fled.
“I wouldn’t want to call it a Dogman,” he reportedly said, but relayed that he did not know what to call the canine that walked like a man.
What many have pointed to as the best evidence supporting the existence of a Dogman was the Gable film, a video transfer of what was claimed to be a mid-1970s home movie showing the creature. However, the film was proven to be fake in 2010 — even its creators admitted it was a hoax.
Dogman in Grand Haven? It's hard to imagine, but at least it keeps the legend alive and barking.