Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 24th, 2007
The dead dog near the road was photographed by Michelle O’Donnell, Turner, Maine, August 2006. Click on the image to make it bigger.
The Maine Mystery Beast is back. Well, at least, the animal discovered next to Route 4, which was incorrectly labeled as the killer of livestock and pets, is. Mark LaFlamme called yesterday, and interviewed me about the claims of a Florida woman that the dog probably killed by a vehicle barreling down Route 4 was her’s. Anything is possible, but the problem with this whole new sidebar to last summer’s sensational story rests in the matter of gender.
Here is Mark’s new article, just published, shared here, with permission.
The beast found dead at the side of Route 4 in Turner last summer came to be known by many names. It was the Turner Creature. It was the Maine Mystery Beast. To more more fanciful minds, it was the Maine Mutant.
But if a Florida woman is correct, the animal may have been at one time known by a more prosaic moniker. The beast may have been a year-old chow named Woolfie.
It would be a neat ending to a popular local mystery. The only problem with this possible solution: The chow from Florida was a female. The animal found in Turner last August was believed to be a male.
Doreen Madden of St. Petersburg said she found her chow as a stray last year and took her in as a pet. The animal, which was believed to have been born under a car in an alley, was not in great health.
“I found her in St. Petersburg eating out of a Dumpster when she was approximately 5 months old,” Madden said. “She had three different types of internal parasites. When that was eradicated she gained weight very fast and got to be about 40 pounds. One vet I took her to said because of her lack of proper socialization as a puppy she had fear of people and wouldn’t easily go to strangers. She was a good dog, very loyal.”
Madden said she took Woolfie to visit friends in Maine and left her there while she made a quick trip back to Florida. The dog, left with a family at Worthley Pond, northwest of Turner, ran off. Madden was unable to find it when she returned to Maine.
She placed an ad in a newspaper and on Craigslist, hoping to be reunited with her pet. But Woolfie was never found, and Madden returned to Florida.
Later, she heard about the media frenzy back in Maine when the strange animal was found along Route 4. She learned that DNA tests had revealed the animal was a dog, after speculation by some who suggested it might be something more exotic.
“It is without a doubt in my mind my dog,” Madden said. “A friend of mine had seen her picture in the paper and said it was her.”
Madden knew there were photos of the so-called mystery beast floating around on Web sites. It was not until this week that she found one and looked it over. She became more convinced than ever that the mystery creature was Woolfie.
“I looked at the photo myself on the Internet, and the full body shot of her laying on the ground was clearly her,” Madden said.
Like the beast that caused hysteria around the region last summer, Woolfie had dew claws, extra claws that were discovered when the dead animal was examined by wildlife experts.
“I had planned to have them removed when I had her spayed,” Madden said.
She said she tried to get Woolfie’s blood samples from her veterinarian to compare them with remaining DNA taken from the animal found in Turner. No such samples were available. She has now offered up one of Woolfie’s toys in case any DNA was left behind on it.
At the height of the story last summer, some suggested the mystery beast was the same animal that had been terrorizing people and killing dogs in the area for decades. Others insisted it was a Chubacabras, a Tasmanian Devil or one of many other exotic or mythical creatures.
Madden says Woolfie was just a dog, a charcoal gray pet that was learning to do tricks.
“She was not a vicious dog,” Madden said. “I have a 10-pound poodle who is 13 and she gets jealous when I pay attention to other animals and would get right in Woolfie’s face snarling with teeth showing and Woolfie wouldn’t respond. She was also a smart dog. I had taught her to sit, give me her paw and give me the other paw.”
Madden on Wednesday provided a photo of Woolfie from last summer. She said the color of the photo is a little misleading and that her pet was more of a charcoal color, in keeping with descriptions and photos of the animal found in Turner last year.
“And her eyes did glow red in the dark,” Madden said.
The dew claws, the timing and the location of Woolfie’s disappearance all indicate that this is the animal that became a national media sensation last summer.
Except there’s just one snag: According to DNA tests done on the remains of the dead animal found along Route 4, that dog was a male.
Madden says Woolfie was a female.
Unless the biologists who tested the DNA made an error, the celebrated mystery beast of Turner may not be Madden’s lost pet after all.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, who studied the remains of the dead animal in August, said it seems more likely that Madden was mistaken about the sex of her pet than that biologists made a patently egregious error in determining the gender.
“There is a chance Madden’s dog is not the same as the one found,” Coleman said. “The gender in a dog is rather easy to determine, externally.”
But Madden is convinced that Woolfie is the animal that gained notoriety last summer. And she rankles at the way her pet has been described as a vile, vicious creature that killed the house pets of others, frightened residents and lived savagely.
“If she smelled bad and was eating cats she was just doing what wild dogs do,” Madden said. “I think she got a bad reputation she didn’t deserve.” by Mark LaFlamme , Staff Writer, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, “Woman says Turner ‘beast’ was her pet dog,” Thursday, May 24, 2007.
Lewiston Sun Journal’s Mark LaFlamme, who was named 2006′s “Journalist of the Year”, was at the center of the Maine Mystery Beast stories. In the wake of his articles, all kinds of popular cultural images began appearing of the variously named critter. For example, one (shown below) was artist Paul Szauter’s Mount Desert Island Marathon® banner, ultimately donated to my collection by Rogier van Bakel.
Also, the sketch (below) exclusively done for Cryptomundo by Mike Lemos shows the darker side of the imagined cryptid.
Before it was over, the November 2006 issue of Down East: The Magazine of Maine had the “Maine Mutant” making a cameo appearance. Over at Boing Boing, cryptobuddy David Pescovitz posted about the Maine Mystery Beast and the banner.
It’s almost summer again. Will there be new sightings of the real Maine Mystery Beast that remains still out there in the woods?