The Werewolf at the Door: A Hair-Raising Review

The Werewolf at the Door: A Hair-Raising Review

I get a lot of press releases and review requests sent to my inbox on a regular basis. To be honest, most of them I barely skim (especially when publicists send 20 copies of the same email over a few weeks). But luckily, one recent message mentioned a name I’m quite familiar with: Linda Godfrey. I didn’t even need to know what it was about to say yes. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, Godfrey is the very person who gave the Beast of Bray Road its name; she’s a prolific author and journalist who has been collecting and researching tales of werewolves, “dogmen”, and other furry humanoid beasties in her home state of Wisconsin and beyond for more than two decades. Her newest book, Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America, is yet another glimpse into this topic.

While these creatures bear all the hallmarks of the “werewolves” from film and fiction, this book isn’t about high school shapeshifters or hunky natives battling glittery vampires. These beings, ranging from scrawny dog-sized bipeds to hulking two-legged humanoid wolves on steroids, are not generally seen changing form, but rather defending their territory or intimidating those foolish enough to wander into their habitat. With the exception of one account, none of the reported encounters involves any form of bodily injury (to a human, at least). Sightings range from hundreds of yards away to creepy nose-to-snout stare downs not so easily brushed off as mistaking some sleeping bear in a field for Bigfoot.

As any self-respecting journalist should, Godfrey scrutinizes report after report, interviewing witnesses and traveling to locations of reported sightings. You might think these people are publicity hounds looking for a little attention, yet many of the men and women involved were extremely reluctant to step forward and, those who have, often prefer remaining somewhat anonymous. There have been hikers, nurses, police officers, military base guards, and even medical students who claim that what they saw was not a bear or wolf. From an anatomical standpoint, the descriptions defy the notion that these were merely pranksters in costumes, either. In her effort to explore all options, Godfrey explores the history of wolfman reports, the many theories of what these witnesses encountered, and examines both similarities and differences between testimonies of individuals who had never met before contacting her.

While there are possible explanations for the creatures ranging from the mundane to Jungian ideas of a collective unconscious, many of the theories posed do require an extraordinary leap out of the accepted scientific view of the world. While most reports describe the beasts as flesh-and-blood living things, other witnesses describe characteristics which imply some sort of otherworldly—or supernatural—origin. This may make readers with a more skeptical perspective a bit uneasy, yet Godfrey avoids making judgment calls regarding the experiencers themselves. Her view is more of a thoughtful, pondering Charles Fort collecting all of the information she can and leaving the final answers open to discussion or debate.

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Linda Godfrey takes on the Michigan Gable film hoax.

Godfrey does, however, touch on the subject of hoaxes, pranksters, and outright liars. While she admits that it’s impossible for her to administer a lie-detector test to every single person, some of the photographs and stories over the years have obviously come from attention-seekers and bored teenagers. Surely, some tricksters have led to reported sightings—even at Bray Road—but even these cases of outright fraud can’t obliterate all the encounters with half-man, half-wolf things. It’s one thing to see a local portly politician in a bear suit wandering a field, but quite another when a tall hairy beast with backward-shaped dog legs passes only a few feet away from your car.

Regardless of your personal opinion of things that go bump (or growl) in the night, Real Wolfmen is a fascinating collection of testimonies from shaken, unnerved individuals who experienced something strange. It will leave you wondering exactly what might lurk in the forests and parks of the American Midwest. While eyewitness testimony and recollection of past events is generally viewed as suspect, the deer carcasses and footprints and damaged property leave tantalizing clues to yet-unexplained events from both the distant past and very recent times.

One thing is for certain: countless people across North America have encountered something with fur and yellow eyes walking on two legs—something definitely not human, not wolf—in different regions. What it is exactly is still open to debate. From 1930s close encounters of the hairy kind to intimidating run-ins with canine-like bipeds in recent years, Real Wolfmen is sure to fascinate (and intrigue) its readers. If you thought werewolves were the stuff of European folktales and Hollywood special effects, this book just might leave you asking yourself if those beliefs really are just fiction.

Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America, published by Tarcher/Penguin, goes on sale August 30, 2012, at booksellers everywhere. You can also check out Linda Godfrey’s other books, including The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf, Strange Wisconsin, and Hunting the American Werewolf, or visit her website www.beastofbrayroad.com.


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6 Comments

  1. S.

    08/10/2012 at 1:31 PM

    So is this a general overview of her research or do I need to purchase some of her earlier titles? One of my friends has a fascination with these dogmen and I was thinking about getting this as a present for him.

    • Ken Summers

      08/10/2012 at 1:39 PM

      The book stands fine by itself as an independent overview of her work, but it would fit nicely with her other writings on wolfmen/dogmen. It does a very good job giving a complete look at the history, case examples, hoaxes, and possible theories so I’m sure he wouldn’t be disappointed.

  2. Jason Edwardson

    08/12/2012 at 5:35 PM

    I grew up in southern WI and clearly remember reading about “the Beast” in an issue of Weekly World News. I always thought it was cool that they had done a story about something so close to me as I could actually go and look for myself(unlike most of the stuff they had in there). Shortly after the release of the article in WWN, a local radio station went on their own ‘investigation’ and tried to bait it with Burger King Whoppers…because what kind of meat eating creature could resist those, right? Surprisingly, they found nothing. My experiences in that area always came up empty as well.

  3. Daniel Larsen

    12/08/2014 at 9:36 AM

    I think we should really just leave the magnificent works of god alone, and if they wanted to be found out they would have been already, these are not normal Creatures of the night, these are half man half wolf that only transform stand or around the time of 8pm -5am on a night of the full moon.

    • Ken Summers

      12/08/2014 at 12:52 PM

      Actually, in most cases, there’s no direct evidence of a transformation occurring for sure. The same goes for sighting only occurring on a full moon. I may recommend actually reading the book…

  4. Zay Wolf

    07/04/2016 at 6:01 AM

    I find these encounters to be fascinating as well. The united states was once all “wild territory” before humans began developing these lands for the purposes of man, and vast areas of wilderness have been destroyed. I believe these creatures exist, but I don’t think of them as “monsters”. My biggest concern is not the fact that these creatures exist. My concern is with people disrespecting these beings, creatures that have been here long before we were. The ignorance and arrogance of man has led to so much suffering and injustice, not only for people, but also for the truly indigenous inhabitants of these lands, such as Sasquatch, dog men, and other wildlife. It would seem that these dog men, while tending to be displeased and frustrated with human kind, also have an uncanny reserve of respect for people, and is one of the reasons, why I trust and admire them so much. It has been said that dog men have killed dogs and cattle, but rather than being consumed with fear and ignorance, you also need to have a more mature sense of reasoning and understanding for why they do the things they do, and to look beyond the value we place on ourselves and ways of life, to ask ourselves if we have been good stewards of this earth, of which I feel, people have not been good stewards. If given a choice between passing through cryptid territory or gang territory, I would choose dog men and big foot over humans any day. I have walked through dog man territories before, without fear, because I trust them, with a kind of trust that I don’t often have for humans. There are VERY few people in this world I would genuinely trust. I know just how arrogant and angry spirited people can be. I know quite a bit about my own kind, and am far more interested in knowing more about cryptids and protecting their habitats from further human development and destruction. As a mid life bachelor, I have been around long enough to know what the true nature of man really is, and I see alot of things regarding humanity that just turns my stomach. Real love and courage, is not always about supporting your own species, sometimes, it is about protecting an area of life that few people understand, due to their ignorance and arrogant ways. A truly courageous heart is one that stands against their own kind, and stands next to those whose world is being destroyed by greed and selfishness. Very few people understand what courage really is. Courage is not about facing a werewolf, because I have visited with a werewolf in a sighting area more than once. Courage is not about traversing through dog man areas with guns and ammunition, because I have visited dog man territories numerous times, always alone and unarmed. If I am not worthy to be here, then the dog men can have me, but I have yet to experience aggression from them, and have had several subtle encounters with dog men. I have recently discovered a 3 toe paw print that was almost as big as the palm of my hand and was so fresh, that the dog man could have been watching me as I passed by. Most people are trapped inside the bubble of their own existences. I reach out to the life around me. I don’t write books nor am I well known. I’m a bachelor that lives a very quiet and private life, and one of things I love to do, is to get acquainted with the unknown. Anger, fear and arrogance rarely wins anyone friends that are truly trustworthy. The kind of feelings that you emit from your life force are the same ones that are going to be attracted to you. I have literally had dog men approach me after dark, announcing their presence with sounds that defy what you would reason as being from average animals. I have heard mystical heavy breathing sounds, to non aggressive growls of acknowledgment. I even had a dog man creep up on me for 15 minutes that I was aware of the entire time, and when I sensed that it was very close, perhaps right behind me, I had a black and white telepathic image of a canine head and snout that came into my mind. It’s an amazing world. People think that people like us are weird, but then, most people never venture very far out into the waters of life, and if they do, they often go about it completely wrong and with the wrong intentions. This planet does not belong to humans. There are OTHER life forms here living with us, and we also need to learn to be more respectful of the life around us, and learn to “share the planet”. People are always taught about sharing when they are young, but most people are only taught to share with other “PEOPLE” NOT wildlife. Sharing with other areas of life is not really about giving gifts of food, or other items that have little value. Sharing, is also about sharing planet earth with other areas of life, and not being greedy and conceited, and hoarding life and this planet for ourselves. When you have a character like I have, you would be amazed just how many enemies you can find within humanity, and also reveals just how corrupt it is as well, which is why the forests are the friendliest places for me to visit, one of the few places I can go where I actually feel safe, especially in places where there are dog men and Sasquatch, they don’t have much goodwill toward people with angry and disrespectful spirits.

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