I’ve been attempting to contribute somewhat to the Blue Dog research going on in Texas, or at least as much as I can contribute being in the eastern US and unable to offer any real assistance beyond trying to keep up on reports of similar animals, sometimes from other states as well. Which is why I was intrigued when a hairless coyote was reported from Steelton, PA (a suburb of Harrisburg) just this week, on July 20 (it’s bizarrely coincidental that this happens to come only a week or so after several of the hairless canines were shot in Hood County, Texas). Although “mangy coyote” is a common explanation for the Blue Dogs, an examination of the photo of the animal (http://www.wgal.com/news/24323601/detail.html) reveals a few differences. There is a good deal of facial resemblance, implying that indeed the Texas dogs may be at least part coyote, but the Steelton animal lacks the rougher hide of the Texas animals. Also the hind legs appear to be shorter than on the Texas animals, and the ears (although difficult to see clearly) appear to be pointed rather than the more rounded ears on many of the Texas ones.
This isn’t the first hairless animal in the Pennsylvania/Maryland area, however. A family living in a rural area near Joppa (Harford County), Maryland reported a bald canine beastie roaming their property in the summer of 2003. Apparently amateur cryptozoologists, they set up game cameras and captured several photos of the animal, including one of it drinking from a horse trough. In the summer of 2004, a similar animal was seen near Glyndon (Baltimore County), same state. Photographs were also taken of the Glyndon animal, and soon the two Maryland animals were given the name Hyote (hyena/coyote), although the two may not have even been the same individual. At least it wasn’t called Chupacabra, though… in the Glyndon case, though, an animal was captured on the property soon afterwards. The captured beast turned out to be a young red fox with a severe case of sarcoptic mange (some veterinarians felt it may have been afflicted with some sort of endocrine disorder, and not mange).
Autumn, 2005 saw the first reports of the rather endearingly, but unfortunately, named creature called the Yardley Yeti (admittedly, it was also called Lower Makefield Lurker, Bucks County Boggart, or New Hope Hyena, but none of those have the ring of the first name). The animal was sighted in the area surrounding New Hope (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. Chief Ken Coluzzi of the Lower Makefield police received several reports of the “mutant” animal. Eerily, just before Halloween that year, author Jonathan Maberry, who lives in the area, and his wife photographed the “Yeti” in a New Hope parking lot. A local newscaster, Don Polec, also saw the animal, which he said was nearly the size of a German Shepherd dog and grayish in color. Polec wrote an article on the beast in the aftermath of his sighting. The beast as photographed by Maberry seems to be a mangy something or other, but whether it’s a fox, a coyote, or even a domestic dog can’t be said for sure.
One of the things I had mentioned to Naomi was that a perusal of Chad Arment’s Varmints (an invaluable resource on reports of strange carnivores) turned up no older reports of animals resembling the Blue Dogs. In fact, in general the Elmendorf carcass from 2004 is the first mention of them I could track down. There are older reports of canine animals from the same general area as the Blue Dog sightings, but they seem to be of hyena-like animals with hair. There are a few reports of black, canine “vampire” animals from other locales in the southern United States (similar to the sightings of bizarre animals sometimes reported in conjunction with animal mutilations in Britain), but none from Texas proper; this possibly implies that the Blue Dogs are a fairly new phenomenon, whether they are an outside species that for whatever reason migrated to Texas only a few years ago or whether they’re an indigenous one of fairly recent vintage.
Back in the East, an article appeared in the Baltimore Sun a few years ago stating that game wardens were concerned with a recent upswing in reported cases of mange. It is tempting to wonder whether the Texas dogs are merely one facet of a larger phenomenon.
Samson foxes, mentioned by others, are another possibility for the appearances. These are gray foxes which lose much of their hair during the summer months. It is notable that many of these reports of hairless canines take place in the summer and early autumn. Many also seem to be considerably larger than foxes, and it’s interesting to consider whether a similar phenomenon can take place in coyotes.