Cryptids: The Dog Woman of Watts

The Dog Woman of Watts


Being a Southern California native, I can’t help but have my curiosity piqued when I hear unusual stories about my home state. I ran across the “dog woman of Watts” while researching cryptid sightings in Los Angeles. I had not heard of the dog woman of Watts, but maybe my cousin, who lives in Watts, had. It turned out that she had not but said she would ask around. Her neighbor, Clifton (presently in his 70s), witnessed the dog woman of Watts. I asked my cousin if Clifton was open to talking about his sighting and, if so, to call me.

Online resources concerning the dog woman of Watts are scarce. However, I summarized what I could find: In 1961, in Watts, California, a neighborhood located in the southern region of the greater Los Angeles area, the Watts Police Department began receiving phone calls about a frightening creature roaming the streets. The first sightings of the animal occurred around 3 PM, and both sightings and phone calls would continue for the next 3 to 4 hours. Citizens reported seeing a creature with the body of a large dog but with a woman’s face. Police initially thought it was a prank call or drug-induced hallucinations. Still, as the calls kept coming in, they began to take it seriously. 

I had a brief conversation with Clifton, who said he wasn’t feeling well. I asked what he could remember. He stated it was summer and on a Friday. He got off work early and walked home when he heard a woman scream. Clifton saw a woman pulling a child through a front gate by his arm. Clifton laughed. He thought the boy “done fucked up” for his mama to be tugging on his arm like that. Clinton continued walking and saw them pointing at something across the street. He said the woman began yelling for her neighbor to come and look.

Clifton looked and saw a huge dog walking towards him on the sidewalk. Clifton remembers it had shaggy dark brown or black fur. The creature had an unnatural side-to-side gait like it was stumbling. That is when Clifton noticed the dog’s “face.” He said it looked more like an ape’s face than a human’s. Either way, it wasn’t a dog’s.

Clifton expressed how scared he was by this. He quickly crossed the street and was extremely grateful the woman had let him into the yard. Clifton, the woman, and her son watched the creature from behind the gate. Clifton claimed the beast paid them “no mind” as it shuffled by and down the sidewalk. The woman and her son were rattled, and Clifton admitted to being pretty spooked. It was Clifton who suggested they call the police.

Before I got off the phone with him, Clifton stated he heard rumors the creature spoke to a man, a notorious pimp, from the neighborhood. The man was later found stabbed to death. Clifton wasn’t sure if the rumor was true. He recalls hearing the pimp was found dead before this happened. I thanked Clifton for his time. I might call him later this week, ask how he is feeling and if he remembers anything more about the dog woman of Watts.

In theorizing about the dog woman of Watts, I came up with some postulations. If the rumor Clifton heard is true, the dog woman of Watts spoke to the pimp, which adds an element of the supernatural. However, I will begin with my less metaphysical postulations.

The Wolf Ape. In particular, in Fresno County, California, the Watts Valley area (interesting connection) is about 250-ish miles north of Watts of the greater Los Angeles area and home to the “Wolf Ape.” The Yokut tribe had stories, and artwork featuring a wolf-bodied creature with the face of an ape, long before the Europeans came. The Yokut state the creature always appears sick, forever coughing and wheezing. Yokut history marks a dwindling presence of the Wolf-Ape before Europeans arrived. European encounters with Wolf-Apes happened primarily during the California Gold Rush (1848-1855). The beast was sighted as far north as Oregon and far south as Arizona.

The dog woman of Watts shares many parallels with Wolf Ape. As Clifton recalls, a dog or wolf-like body is an ape’s face. The unnatural gait, or stumbling, supports the Yokut claim of Wolf-Ape appearing to be sick. Watts is only 250-ish miles south of Fresno, CA (a 3 or 4-hour drive). Wolf-Ape sightings in both Oregon and Arizona demonstrate this creature can travel. For me, Wolf-Ape is a highly likely candidate for the identity of the dog woman of Watts, but I have a few more postulations.

Human/Animal genetic experimentation. Southern California, for all its dark secrets, one secret is perhaps best summed up as “vile.” Southern California has a human trafficking problem. The slums of Los Angeles have long been used by U.S. Government Agencies (C.I.A. in particular) and private corporations in procuring human test subjects for cruel scientist research and experimentation. The C.I.A. run, declassified before a congressional hearing, the MK-Ultra program targeted prostitutes, the homeless, and people with mental disorders (primarily schizophrenia) living or working on Skid Row for sinister mind-control experiments. 

Individuals were kidnapped and regularly administered extreme L.S.D doses while locked in coffin-sized boxes for weeks. These poor souls were psychologically shattered to develop multiple personalities. Each personality would be separately trained in specialized skills and could be brought forth using specific “command words.” That is what the C.I.A. would admit too. Imagine what they won’t.

MK-Ultra success rates were low. What happened to individuals the C.I.A. considered failed test subjects? Evidence suggests they were sold to private corporations (Dow, Merck, GE, Monsanto, etc.) for further human experimentation. I do not believe it is a stretch to postulate the dog woman of Watts may have been an escaped Human/Animal genetic experiment. Watts, California, was part of the C.I.A. dragnet for human trafficking. The surrounding ruinous infrastructure on privately owned land differentiated between discrete work sites or abandoned buildings is complex and problematic to investigate. This makes hiding a secret research facility in plain sight possible. Keeping labs near designated abduction grounds cuts down on transportation issues. Suppose the dog woman of Watts did escape such a facility. It could explain her sudden appearance and then subsequent vanishing, as she would have been close and quickly recaptured.

I am currently researching other Los Angeles-centered cryptid sightings. I believe I could soon support an argument that Los Angeles is, or once was, home to a secret genetic testing lab. Not dissimilar to Plum Island, which also used U.S. citizens as test subjects.

An avenging spirit, Skinwalker, or similar magic worker (Brujo/Bruja, sorcerer, priest). My last postulation is rooted in the paranormal and given a modicum of possibility should the rumor Clifton heard be true. According to the stories, the dog woman of Watts spoke to a pimp, who was later found dead. In 1961 Watt’s was home to a large African American population. As such, the religions of Vodou, various forms of Orisha worship, and Palo Mayombe had footholds within the community. I cannot speak to Orisha worship. However, from the perspective of Vodou and Palo Mayombe, I can say with some authority. Followers of both Vodou and Palo Mayombe often petition spirits to seek retribution on their behalf. In particular, priests of Palo Mayombe grant the soul of a human the talents of various animals and send the empowered ghost to perform tasks. One such spirit or empowered ghost might have been sent to avenge someone exploited, or worse, by the pimp.

Numerous problems arise with this postulation. The creature appeared physical and was seen by many. Spirits are rarely seen, and generally, it is by one or two people. The spirit is often seen as an “apparition,” but not physically tangible and fleeting. The dog woman of Watts seems to have been solid, and her presence sustained for 3 to 4 hours. The dog woman of Watts may have been a skinwalker or similar magic worker. Through sorcerous means assumed the form of a sizeable dog-bodied creature and issued a death curse to the pimp.

While I use the term Skinwalker, I apply it loosely. The Skinwalker or “Yee Naaldoshii” is distinctly Navajo and is an overused and misappropriated term to describe any type of Native American shapeshifting phenomena. Los Angeles was home to both the Chumash and Tongva natives and a plethora of surrounding tribes. Their descendants still live in Los Angeles. We do not know the context each tribe views magic and shapeshifting. The Skinwalkers of Navajo lore is primarily evil. Other tribes might see their brand of Skinwalker as a protector.

While a Navajo Skinwalker might have traveled to Watts to speak to a pimp, I find it more likely the culprit was a Native American magic worker. One with ancestral land ties to Los Angeles meted out punishment for someone who could not. 

Concerning the dog woman of Watts, I find the avenging spirits and Skinwalker postulations the least probable. Still, enough parallels exist (only in conjunction with the rumor Clifton heard) that I feel it’s a possibility…however remote.

If Clifton remembers anything more about the dog woman of Watts, I will share it. If you discover any information regarding the dog woman of Watts, I would appreciate hearing from you.

-Kevin Wikse

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