The Legend of Dog Lady Island.

"If you have had the pleasure of growing up in the "Floral City", Monroe MI. it is more than likely that you have come across the legend of Dog Lady Island. Like many legends there are numerous versions; given that it has been passed down for many generations it is inevitable that the legend will be altered slightly. 

As you exit Interstate 75, approximately 15 miles across the Ohio border, you one can head East on Dunbar Road just before you reach a stretch of Lake Erie you come upon Plum Creek and only then does a disheveled island reveal itself. 

After solidly researching the Monroe Historical Museum's catalogs and records and ancestry databases the earliest records called it Fox Island. The owners of the island built a large home meant to be utilized as a religious retreat for young women. Later on, the island was later purchased by the Kausler family in the late 1800′s, they decided to rename it "Kausler Island" and occupied the home that was originally built on it. The family, as many did, moved into town in the 1930′s.

The island was bought and sold several times over the decades. One owner built a commune type housing unit and  a few people moved in. One individual started a pig farm on the island and another started a garbage dump. It seemed as though as soon as something new started on the island it ended and the community never truly thrived on the island and consequently everyone moved away except the first couple. In 1961 the mansion, unfortunately, had a gas leak and burned to the ground. Shortly thereafter the husband of the original couple passed away leaving the old women to live on the island in one of the communal buildings, completely alone and isolated, except for her lot of wild dogs.
Teenagers are notorious for becoming bored easily and hence getting into trouble as a result, an outlet, however, was the infamous island. So in the 60's it became the local "party spot" for mischievous kids to escape the bores of town.  The Monroe adolescence referred to the site as Dog Lady Island in the 1960's. This is the decade that the legend of Dog Lady Island is most commonly said to have come alive.

What was most unnerving about this island was the almost omnipresent pair of deep-set, glowing eyes that would eerily peer out from the shrubbery as the teens were gathered around their campfires drinking and smoking. Ever so often disheveled teens would claim to have seen the old woman that the eyes belonged to. They described her as looking wild, ancient, wearing distressed clothing, always in the presence of her pack of feral dogs.  The mysterious woman became known as The Dog Lady, and the legend only expanded and became more detailed as teens continued to come in contact with her. It is said that the woman once lived on the island with her husband but after his passing she became introverted and possibly crazed. Most say she began to have more in common with her snarling dogs than she did with the human race. Almost entirely dehumanized she ran about on all fours, viciously tearing at the flesh of dead animals and tugging at carcasses with her pack of mutts. Some teens swore she growled at them and jumped at them as if they were simply a piece of meat to be gnawed on, that is until she lost her tongue. It can be assumed that one of her dogs go out of control and tore it right from her mouth as they brawled over a morsel of raccoon. Apparently the lady had a telephone, because a few knew of the secret number and when they dialed it would be answered by an outburst of unsettling growls.

There really was a phone number that circulated the area, and if you called it supposedly Dog Lady herself would answer. Teens would call the number just to hear a poor old woman, who fell subject to the fun, who couldn't lucidly say the word “hello.”

One article from the Monroe Evening news in 2006 includes an interview with Dr. Daniel Compora, an English professor and folklorist at the University of Toledo. Compora says he learned of the legend in 1978. An old woman lived on the island years ago and, after her husband died, she surrounded herself with many Doberman Pinschers. The dogs were there to protect her, but one day they turned on her, ripping out her tongue, leaving her incapable of speech and partially blind. She came to be known as “the Dog Lady.”
He continues to say, "understandably, she became reclusive and liked it that way. So she developed the habit of jumping onto the cars of anyone who dared park near the island. Dog Lady later was murdered  by members of a motorcycle gang, so the story goes. Gang members became the new occupants of the island, and they allegedly kept Dog Lady’s body in a coffin on the island. The stories  continue today of Dog Lady haunting the island. Some say because she only can grunt, she sounds like a dog and even eats off the ground with them."
My most exciting find was an article that included none other than Jan Brunvand, a professor of English at the University of Utah since 1966, and also the author of one of our class texts. It says in the article that "Brunvand may be the foremost folklorist in the United States." Brunvand states that he loves legend such as "Dog Lady Island", anything with reoccurring themes such as "the attack of young lovers." He says that it's a fascinating field (folklore), you have to be "part historian, part detective, and part storyteller." which is just what I intended on being during my legend trip. 

 As I was visiting another historic sight in Monroe a local man asked if I was doing some sort of project, I explained to him about my legend tripping and asked if he knew any legends himself. He instantly recalled his own version of the legend: "the old lady witnessed the  motorcycle gang, The Iron Coffins (which have a group in the Monroe area), perform an unspeakable crime. Henceforth they cut her tongue out so she literally could not tell a soul about the crime. The lady, who enjoyed her seclusion, would scare off teenagers who went out to the island to make out, drink, or cause mischief. Since she had no tongue she would run them off and create quite a frightening growl/bark which was very unusual and unrecognizable. As the teenagers dashed for their cars she would jump atop your hood and growl viciously at you licking her chops. Her pack of dogs would aid her in the act creating a malicious sight and a terrifying ruckus." I myself have heard this variant and it coincides with other similar ones. 
Although I was not fortunate enough, or perhaps I was lucky to have not seen her, either way I did not catch a glimpse of Dog Lady herself. However, in the daylight as I was exploring the island I did stumble about some disturbing objects. These pictures are a bit graphic to those with a weak stomach and a soft spot for little critters, like myself. I first happened upon a rabbits leg, and it's leg only. I looked over the surrounding area but saw no trace of any fur, bones, or body parts. The second, a small raccoon head, and it's head only. This one I found to be quite disturbing because I've never heard of another animal such a coyote leaving behind the head, especially so precisely severed. So I came to the conclusion that either Dog Lady had been preying on these little critters just before I had arrived, perhaps the night before; or some individuals, most likely adolescence who's brains aren't entirely developed, took it upon themselves to kill the poor little raccoon. Either way my findings gave me the chills and I had a sudden urge to escape the island!
Whatever the cause may be for the old woman's (Dog Lady) death and disappearance her forbidding island is still there. The old timers of  Monroe continue to know it as Kausler’s Island, but the young folk are set on calling it Dog Lady Island. The one  thing known for sure is that the Dog Lady’s legend has taken on a life of its own.

The story is said to be like many other urban legends, merely a scare tactic. It was most likely born out of small town cultural fear to keep meddling kids in line and out of trouble. However, many believe the legend to be true and that the old woman does indeed haunt the island to this day. Either way it is still a major part of Monroe County's folklore and will continue to move about the town for many generations to come.