Dogman Encounters

I’m a 32-year-old lady, from the very northern tip of West Virginia. Most of my life has been lived in Hancock County. When I was little, we camped in tents, walked everywhere, hiked at parks; all that outside goodness. In my teens, we started going to state parks, to ride horses. I’ve been to Tomilson Run, Beaver Creek State Park, Salt Fork, Raccoon Creek, and Vista Park (I think that was the name). We had a friend who was constantly inviting us to ride on peoples’ land she had received permission from.

I’m well acquainted with the local wildlife. I’ve seen all the major players, including coydogs, and bears, and can identify most sounds in the forest. I love watching nature documentaries. I was looking to become a vet, so I studied a lot, on animals. Drawing and painting them got me very acquainted with animal anatomy. Was I ever into cryptozoology? Yes! I was a dino-crazy, little girl. My one babysitter had Reader’s Digest ‘Mysteries of the Unexplained’. The thought of a plesiosaur, in Scotland or an Apatosaurus, in the Congo, was just mind blowing.

Later in life, I started looking at it like Folklore. It was interesting to read the accounts and learn the theories behind what people were seeing, but I believed in them as much as a folklorist believes in dragons and trolls. I didn’t have any interest in Bigfoot and I’d never heard of Dogmen. I never had interest in looking, nor did the thoughts ever cross my mind. It seems I didn’t need to go looking, they found me.

We moved to the farm when I was about 10. Mom’s dream was to have horses and she was finally able to live it. The farmhouse was haunted, mainly by the former residents of the house. I never felt threatened by them, though. It’s a little unnerving to have two men talking and moving the couch you’re sitting on. Or should I say, it sounded like it. No one was home, no media was on, and yet, I was hearing two men, talking about how they were going to move the couch, and where, and the sound of furniture being dragged, right from under me.

The land, itself, had its share of strangeness. Most things were benign, though. We just shrugged and carried on. I honestly hated our woods. Anywhere else, I’d freely hike, but even in the yard, sometimes I felt watched. Heck, sometimes I thought something was staring in our windows. Now that I think of it, we did have things slam into our trailer. I’d think it was a horse that had gotten loose, but when I’d go out, to investigate, I’d find nothing. I’d chalk it up to a deer.

I used my horses’ breeds for their names, rather than think up names for them. Anyone who knows me knew my horses’ names. I was eighteen to nineteen, in this encounter. By this time, we gave up on cows (I hate, hate, hate them) and just had the horses and chickens.

Someone knocked on the door, at 2 AM. I’d only been asleep two hours, but years of conditioning had my heart pumping and my mind clearing. Someone knocking that early meant trouble. It usually meant horses or livestock had gotten out. I wasn’t disappointed. Our neighbor said the horses were in his yard. My mind wasn’t totally awake, so I didn’t think to ask which yard they were in. My stepfather came out, asked what was up, and told me they were my horses, so deal with it. Mom was working. That was nothing new. This lot of horses had three expert escape artists. I had the routine down.

It was pretty dark out, but I did have some moonlight, to help. The security light only went so far. Then, of course, it shut off, after so long. When it was cloudy, you literally had to watch that you didn’t walk off, into the ravine, it was so pitch.

I was naturally in a foul mood, cursing my horses, and wondering if some drunk had gone through the fence, AGAIN. It happened a lot. As I got closer to the brown barn, I realized a horse was flipping out. It was running back and forth, squealing, and carrying on. I went in and grabbed the halters and leads. I paused for a moment, to see if any other horse or horses had replied to the horse I heard squeal. That would give me an idea where the other horse or horses might be. There was no reply. That was odd. I was thinking, “Crap! They’re on the other side of the hill!” It was the only reason in my mind they wouldn’t be replying. Let’s just say, when they followed our cut trails, to the other side, it took us an hour to traverse through the woods and lead them back. And even with two guys, on a four wheeler, and my mom, that was a freaky trek.

I felt like I was being watched and followed. Maybe, it wasn’t paranoia. So, the land is set up like this. The brown barn was connected to a small pasture, about half an acre long; which then connects to a seven-acre pasture. Pretty much in the center, on the outside edge of the large pasture, was an old, white barn, that we turned into a run-in.

I decided to tackle the horse still in the fence, so I could bring her down to the small pasture, to keep her from escaping too. Maybe, the others would follow. I had to walk clear to the other side of the pasture, to get to the panicking horse. It was my mother’s psycho appaloosa mare. I tried to catch her and nearly got trampled, a few times trying. She was frothing at the mouth and her eye whites were REALLY showing! Was I alarmed? No. As I said, psycho!

I noticed my other six were across the road. They were standing in a tiny, little fenced-in area, under a spotlight. They were standing motionless and not touching a blade of grass. I was wondering how the neighbor managed to herd them into that tiny fenced in area, with that tiny door. Three of those horses were over sixteen hands tall. One was a draft horse cross. The doorway was actually small enough; he touched both sides, going through. My thoroughbred mare took me two hours to corral, the last time she got out (much to my frustration, she was an awesome jumper). So, a stranger rounding them up and putting them into a tiny yard was mind-blowing.

I’ve had horses since I was nine. I’m thirty-two now. I’ve had ponies and horses. I’ve had appaloosas, Arabians, draft horses, quarterhorses, walking horses, saddlebreds, thoroughbreds, mustangs, foals, geldings, mares, and geldings that still thought they were stallions. I’ve had a lot of horses, from all walks of life. I will tell you, they consistently do not like to be crammed into tight spaces, especially, not in a group.

I had two severely abused horses, I was rehabbing, a thoroughbred that actually had PTSD, and a racking horse, that actually took me three years to touch, without some sort of a bad reaction. They did not like being in stalls, and all but one were mares. Mares are extremely moody and two of mine were particularly vicious, to those they didn’t like. My walker mare only liked three other horses. She should have been kicking the crap out of the others there. Mine also didn’t like to be under lights, when they escaped. They avoided them like the plague. And not eating grass, that was over ankle deep? That was unheard of. They were silent and dead still.

My neighbor came out and told me that they were like that when he found them. He asked me if I needed help, but I said, “No.” My thoroughbred and racking horse mares did not like men. I told him I’d take them out, one at a time. I took one halter and lead and threw the rest outside the gate. I put the halter on my gelding and opened the gate, to lead him out. They had other plans, though. All six came out, as a freaking unit. They were literally chest to butt, crammed together. My gelding and my Welsh mare had their chest pushing against me as we walked back to the brown barn. Normally, they did not do this. I wouldn’t usually allow such bad behavior.

We were on the main road, which I did not like. The speed limit is only thirty-five, but people go sixty. So, I tried to lead them through the large pasture gate. They wouldn’t even go on that side of the road, though. I was a little unnerved, by their behavior. So I lead them down to the brown barn and they went in. They were skittish, though, picking at the hay I threw out, walking around restlessly, sticking to the barn like glue, and eyeing the upper pasture. I rationalize it by thinking, it’s the appy flipping out, that’s unnerving them. And why hadn’t she come down yet? She had to have seen us all walk down. I rushed to the gate, between the little and big pastures, out of habit. I didn’t want the herd to go back out, into the big pasture. I didn’t have to worry. They didn’t follow me (like they usually did). The gate was wide open, but the appy was still running and squealing, back and forth, in the same area. I started to go get her.

Now, the neighbors’ security lights didn’t really light up my pasture. The road was higher than my pasture, so it was cast, in a shadow. I could make out her shape and some detail, though. She took off, at a panicked gallop, swerved sideways, and jumped the stream. When she landed, she nearly landed on her face. She caught herself though and took off, at a dead gallop, again. I ducked behind a stump. If she would have hit me, I would have been dead.

I went back and chained the gate. I decided to forego looking her over until I got the halters and leads. She was too hot at the moment. I decided to walk on the road, instead of through the pasture, again. The pasture was uneven, unlit, and full of springs. Sometime during this, clouds had taken over the sky. so there was no moonlight, to see by. The spot, on the road, where I was at, was paved and pretty well lit, though (my neighbor was paranoid as mentioned).

I had almost gotten to the white barn, when I got this sudden urge, to stop and look at a very specific spot, in the pasture. I would like to say, it was instinct that told me to look, but usually, I’d scan the woods first, to see what was watching me. That’s usually where the watchers are. Instead, I just flicked on my flashlight, right on a certain spot. It was extremely close to where the mare was flipping out. I saw red eye shine. My first thought was, “Why in the world would a deer be there, with all that chaos?” I was feeling a sense of extreme dread and didn’t know why. Besides, it being where my horse was going nuts, told me, something else just wasn’t right….. I then realized, where the eyes were, relative to the walnut trees and my racing barrels. See; the road is above the pasture and the walnut trees were right at the same elevation, as the road. The pasture itself is sloped, to deal with the runoff, from the road. The barrel, it was next to, was on the low end of the incline. The barrels were white, so I could see a dim lighting (from my flashlight) on the one it was next to. This thing was too freaking big to be a deer. I was frozen, standing there, watching it. I just had this feeling, it was evil and that I had to keep track of those eyes. It was watching me. It slowly blinked a few times. it also looked over, into the woods, above the pasture. I know you ask your guests if they ever feel there are other ones out there. Well, let me tell you, it crossed my mind. With a sinking stomach, I flashed my flashlight over the woods, to see if I would catch eyeshine. I didn’t see any, though. So, I went right back to the eyes. They were still there. I flicked back and forth, making sure nothing was sneaking up on me.

I don’t know how long I stood there, watching, frozen. Someone could have come around the bend and hit me, with their car, I was so focused. Finally, it started to move off. It glanced at me, sideways, a few times (only one eye). I think it went into the copse of trees, around the creek. I heard nothing. That wasn’t surprising, though. The horses were still restless and making noises. I stood there, a long time after, looking for eye shine. I was wondering if it could have been a bear. I didn’t think so though. The eyes were consistent, in height, until it disappeared. Bears are clumsy, on their back legs. On this uneven, inclined ground, I have no doubt a bear would have dropped to the ground, to go on all fours. Even the rear up and drop down behavior bears do, when they’re trying to see something, wouldn’t work. We had one cross our pasture before. He made a lot of noise, going through the woods. The horses settled down quicker with the bear.

I was almost to my neighbor’s, at this point. I considered leaving the couple, hundred dollars of tack, at his house (halters and leads aren’t cheap). I had no doubt, if I left them there, they’d be gone in the morning. My mother would be pissed. So, I darted over, grabbed them, and ran like a bat out of hell! I know, I know. I should have left the tack. I also know, you’re not supposed to run, but I couldn’t even conceive what I had just seen. I got into the barn, threw the tack down, and hung with the horses. I wasn’t going to go back up that pitch black driveway, on foot. I figured, with the horses, I’d have a warning, and the barn had plenty of sharp things.

I didn’t go back up, until dawn. I was frozen stiff by that time. I’ve had years to think this over. It unnerves the crap out of me. How long was that thing there? Was that what was keeping the appy mare from coming down? Was it RIGHT there, in the shadows, while I was trying to catch her or was it in the unlit barn, I walked through, to get to the road? Was It the reason the appy swerved and nearly fell? How did my horses get out? I never did find how they got out. Did they panic and jump the fence? I did check the fence line, away from the woods. I did look for tracks, around the barrel. Sadly, the ground was hard, from frost that morning. But, I will say, the appy mare was running for a good while. The ground was severely torn up and turned into a muddy, mess (it was high noon when I went down there, to check, and the ground had melted). I’ll bet it was her, that woke the neighbor up. It took them about a week, to fully settle. I don’t know if whatever it was was still in the area or if they were that traumatized.

It wasn’t too long after that, my mother filed for divorce. My (ex)stepfather got the farm and I moved in with her, in the city. Even with all of the weird crap going on there (there were non-bipedal things going on too), I miss it terribly. Maybe it’s more accurate to say, I miss the farm life rather than the actual place. I’d love to get back onto a farm again, but I’d probably hesitate to move back there.

I never told anyone about the eye shine event. I didn’t see the actual creature and really, how do you convey that unnatural/horror inducing feeling? You saw eye shine, whoop-dee-doo. My mother would have given me the benefit of the doubt, but my mother often told family members things. They made my life enough of a living hell. I didn’t want to give them more ammo.

Time: Late Night
Date: 2002