Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

SHOSH McCARTHY: An Unlikely Werewolf

This has always been a family affair, and it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to today's guest blogger, my stepdaughter Shosh. I am ridiculously proud of my girls, and indeed I don't think I could be prouder of them if they were actually my own flesh and blood.

Shosh has started on a career in animal welfare, and has just qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in London. She is in practice in Staffordshire, where she lives with her intended. She also has a cynical sense of humour quite unsettling in one so young and beautiful... .

There is a road near my house that I use quite frequently – a fairly quiet lane with houses at either end but the odd stretch of nothingness in between. There are a couple of ill-kept lay-bys along the road, surrounded by trees and dotted with the odd shopping trolley. One night I was returning home along this lane, the clock approaching midnight, when I started to near one of these lay-bys. As my car approached, out of the trees trotted a German Shepherd dog, nose to ground. I slowed down to a crawl in case it should wander in front of my car, and I subconsciously scanned the pavement and lay-by for the accompanying human... none appeared.

The dog appeared to be absolutely alone, and I stopped the car in one of those ‘good citizen’ moments. Should I try to catch the apparently stray animal? As my car sat stationary the dog looked up at me and from that moment its eyes – shining in the reflection of the headlights – never left mine. I thought better of getting out of the car to try and approach it and perhaps negligently, drove on home. The dog disappeared into the darkness in my rear view mirror, and there was still no sign of any owner. I haven’t seen it again. OK, so it was definitely a German Shepherd and not a wolf. And OK, he probably lived in one of the houses nearby and had just escaped out of the gate or something. But being death-stared by a lone canine in a dark country lane is the nearest I have come to encountering a werewolf. In his or her canine form, that is.

Now I don’t claim to know an awful lot about werewolves... in fact, the only things I do know about them is that they are very big and drink piƱa colada. And I have Hollywood and Warren Zevon respectively to thank for that. In fact, based on such dubious sources, how can I be sure that werewolves don’t actually take the form of German Shepherd dogs? Or Dalmatians? Or Pugs? For those of you who have seen photographs of Sam, the World’s Ugliest Dog (Google him if you haven’t), the premise of a werewolf Chinese Crested Dog suddenly doesn’t seem so ludicrous.

Anyway, I have three pertinent questions about werewolves that I would welcome answers to:

1. Is transforming from the human form to the canine form painful? Some movies depict it as being excruciatingly so (provided they can afford the special effects required to actually depict the transformation). I mean, fur suddenly sprouts out of your body from follicles that really can’t handle a hair that size. The bones in your hands and feet get longer, which must result in pretty acute ‘growing pains’. And with very few humans being immunised against canine diseases, surely you’re going to go down with a nasty case of distemper sooner or later.

2. How come werewolves are so adept at jumping on and off cars, and climbing the Eiffel tower (did the American Werewolf in Paris actually climb the Eiffel Tower or have I just made that up?)? I suppose if you’ve been a werewolf for long enough you would be used to it, but I reckon that as a newly infected werewolf I would be stumbling about all over the place. I’m not used to strutting around on four legs, or wagging a tail.

3. If you were a werewolf, would you refer to the transformation as ‘that time of the month’? I expect many people would like to stay out of your way when the full moon came around, and it’s not necessarily because they’ll get shouted at for putting a spoon in the fork compartment of the cutlery tray again.

I suppose being a werewolf could have its perks, though. The shaggy coat would mean you don’t have to worry about what to wear when you go out on a midnight killing spree. And I don’t think you’d have to stress over-paying your Council Tax bill. Even the most belligerent of bailiffs might think twice before taking your sofa if you flashed your carnassials.


Retrieverman said...

Sam passed away last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfWrvrBY6Mo&feature=related

This breed is strange. The gene that makes them hairless also gives them weak dentition.

It's actually derived from Latin American hairless dogs (like the Xoloitzcuintli-- "Mexican Hairless dog"). Its connection to China or Africa is quite tenuous. In fact, the modern breed is believed to have been developed in the United States from a single kennel in 1920's.

Retrieverman said...

Chinese crested do kind of remind me of Zuul from Ghostbusters: http://www.ghostbustershq.com/egons/terrordo.jpg

However, the reconstructed Alaunt also makes me think of Zuul: http://www.thebritishalauntsociety.moonfruit.com/

The Alaunt is the ancestor of the bulldogs, the mastiffs, the boxer, and the bull and terrier types (bull terrier, staffie, etc.)