Michigan trucker believes he encountered, shot the Dogman

Dogman gives UFOs, Bigfoot a run for their money

Photo of Angela Mulka
The Dogman has been on the minds of Michiganders for the last 130 years starting in 1887.

The Dogman has been on the minds of Michiganders for the last 130 years starting in 1887.

Photo provided/David Wall/Getty Images

'Tis the season of the eerie and unexplained, the legends and other shared tales told around campfires and passed down from generation to generation to inspire terror. Or to warn others of malevolent creatures that may live among us. 

One Michigan truck driver traveling through the Manistee National Forest five years ago had an experience with a creature at the heart of one of the state's most popular urban legends: the Michigan Dogman. And it changed his life forever.

Trucker Joe Barger, 59, recently recounted his story to the host of the YouTube channel What Lurks Beneath, which tells stories about the mysterious and supernatural with 342,000 subscribers. The video featuring Barger's interview was posted to the channel on Sept. 12, 2022, and has close to 150,000 views.

"Even if you don't believe what I'm saying is truthful, it might be something you can draw on in the future in case you ever do have an experience with the Dogman, which is an advantage I never had," Barger said in the video. He explained he thinks it's important for Michigan residents to be aware of what he saw.

Watch the video below or continue to read Barger's claims.

Barger, a six-year army veteran, was transporting a 43,000-pound load of paper from a mill in northern Michigan through the forest on his typical route when he encountered the Dogman on an evening in June. He said he had never heard of the cryptid before the incident, which took place within 15-20 seconds at most.

"I would swear, as a Christian on a bible, that this is all 100% factual, truth," Barger said in the video.

Leading up to the encounter, Barger realized while driving he had an air leak. Wanting to fix it before he got too far into the forest, he stopped to look at it. He found the air leak by the back brake chamber on the trailer.

With the materials to fix it, Barger positioned himself underneath the trailer and began to get a "bad feeling."

"I was hearing a vocalization that wasn't natural," Barger said in the video. "It wasn't a sound I had ever heard before. I was looking around and I saw some shadowing in the woodline. But there was plenty of light to see. It was nowhere near getting dark yet. I was in bear country so I perceived the shadowing to be a black bear at the time."

When he realized he could be near a black bear, Barger got back into the truck and checked out the air, which was good to go.

"It held and took me not even five minutes to fix," Barger said in the video.

The woods continued to give Barger a bad feeling. But he thought everything was normal until he started driving again. He checked his driver's side mirror for any traffic on the two-lane road at the bottom of a hill. There was no traffic. 

As he started going up the hill and looked in his right side mirror he saw it was darker than it should be.

"There was a wolf head the size of my window and my windows were down," Barger said in the video. "He was trotting along next to me and I was about 20-25 mph at that point. And he was stooping down on two legs looking down inside of my cabin. I'm at nine feet tall in my seat. His hands were coming up scratching my window sill. On my door handle I could hear his claws." 

"Time slowed down," Barger continued in the video. "I thought I was in like, an alternate reality or something, because a creature like this don't exist in a reality I've ever known of," Barger continued in the video. "I have heard of bigfoot and I know those to be something that is talked about. This is a whole different thing altogether. 

Bigfoot has nothing on the Dogman, according to Barger.

"It has a lot of sharp teeth and the teeth on this thing were like brilliant white," Barger said in the video. "Three-inch long fangs bottom and top. Pure black pointed ears. It had yellow eyes. With human-like hands probably 14 inches across. It was at least ten feet fall from how it was stooping into my cabin. His yellow eyes were darting all over the place. And looking at me."

"How this creature looked was mad and determined to get to me," Barger continued in the video. "He was sneering. He wasn't making any noises vocally. But the looks he was giving me and the intelligence in his eyes was telling me 'I'm here to get you and there's nothing you can do about it.'"

Barger thought about trying to roll up the window but he decided to focus on keeping the truck on the road.

That is when he remembered his handgun. Barger pulled his .45 Colt strapped to his waist and took two shots at the creature.

"He instantly went down," Barger said. "I was looking at him as he was sliding into the weeds. I was at almost point blank range so I'm pretty sure I got him through the eye orbit. His head was huge. Everything on this animal was black except his teeth and his eyes. I wasn't really panicked but it's the scaredest I've ever been in my life."

Barger, assuming the creature to be dead, wanted to turn around and check on the carnage to make sure he didn't "lose his mind." About a mile up the road, he found a spot large enough to turn his truck around in.

"I wanted to make sure I killed it," he said in the video. "I wanted to know more about what just occurred."

As Barger was coming back down the hill, at most five minutes after shooting it, it was gone.

In its place was a jeep and two people. Barger said he was concerned about people being somewhere potentially dangerous so he stopped to talk to them.

"They give me a story that they were watching a few bears fighting each other. I was worried about them being outside with what had just happened. But I didn't want to let them know what I had just done so I left."

Barger thinks because the other people saw claimed to have seen two bears that maybe there could be more Dogman in the area beside the one he shot.

"I was really in shock for a good while," Barger said in the video. "I was still driving the truck and I didn't even know how I got back. I shouldn't have been driving the truck in this state of mind but I wasn't going to stay around or park anywhere near there."

"It was the most terrifying thing I think anybody could go through. Worse than even any combat situation. Because at least you know what you're dealing with there."

Barger had nightmares for six months to a year on and off. The nightmares got less prevalent as time went on and he doesn't deal with them anymore. 

"I'm in a lot better shape now and I thought it was important to get this information out. That's why my story is out now. It just took me this long to get with the right people that I know have my back."

Additionally, Barger claims the federal government is keeping the existence of the Dogman quiet.

"After I got better from the nightmares I had a family member tell me I should get this out to the public," Barger said in the video. "So I talked to one podcaster that is popular in the cryptid space and I didn't want to be out there publicly so he took notes and narrated my story about four years ago."

Three months later, Barger said he was detained at a "scale house" by state police to wait for federal authorities. 

"When they (federal authorities) first showed up they were very intimidating and angry," he said in the video. "I didn't know what was going on. They said, 'you killed one of our assets and this is how things are going to go down.'"

Barger knew the only thing he killed in the last year was the creature. 

"This was their property and they were mad that I killed it. And they were trying to get me to stop talking about it. They probably knew who I was from the narration story."

In the video, Barger said the federal authorities threatened him, confiscated his gun and shut his bank account off for some time.

"I stopped talking about it until recently," he said. "This is probably another tool in their toolbox for military operations of some kind. And if they don't keep it under wraps it won't be a useful tool anymore for them."

The Dogman has been on the minds of Michiganders for the last 130 years starting in 1887. That's when two lumberjacks saw a creature they described as having a man's body and a dog's head. According to legend, the Dogman appears to humans in a ten-year cycle that falls on years ending in the number seven, according to the Michigan History Center.

Barger's encounter happened in 2017.