Who Let the Dogs Out


The class of 1991 Dowagiac Football team was already a great team. They had played undefeated nearly since middle school. This is the story of where I was during that time. What my perceptions were and how I participated on the sideline during the 1990 drive to the state championship. How I and the town of Dowagiac had a part in creating the chant, what became "who let the dogs out".


I thought for several minutes with the crushing panic that something needed to be realized, it was the 3rd quarter of the 4th game of the season, though we had won the 1st and the 3rd games by sweeping victory. We had lost the 2nd game, it felt like for some reason, this being the 1st home game after that 2nd game loss that something was missing. We were struggling to find our mojo on the field and if we lost this game it would cost us our chance at a championship season which we thought we were destined for before having lost that 2nd game. The hope for a championship season was pushed into a catagory of circumstational improbability after that. We needed something new, something original, something that might ignite the fury of Dowagiac and set us on course as time was slipping away and Cassopolis had just scored another touch down. I had a few ideas and tried several without gaining the participation of my peers. When I realized "Let the Dogs Out", I struggled to understand where it may have originated from. I wasn't totally yet certain until I thought it through to its conclusion that we were going to be unstoppable with it, because everyone on all sides of the field wanted to witness a magnificent victory, and be a part of that happening. We were about to Let the Dogs Out.

Dowagiac is a Native American Potawatomi name that means "fishing waters", Abundant in Water and the sustenance of life. Self sustainable land. The spirit of this tribe and the history of the land is very impactful for the citizens that live there, and it has always been this way for me. I believed that I live in a magical world and that we all had and intricate connection to one another. It was the local Potawatomi gave inspiration to me of what a chant could be during pep rally's when they would perform sacred chants and dances. It isn't that our town didn't have regular chants and call backs that our cheer leaders would use to lift up the crowd that had been motivating teams since before I was born, but we didn't have one that was intimate and personal to each of us and our town as a whole and those previous chants at the moment of that game, they were not working. Nobody was joining in with the cheer team but for the band down at the end of the stands, it was the 3rd quarter and it appeared that we were likely going to lose, and most people seemed had become apathetic and resolved about that, given that we had lost the previous game to Lakeshore, where our long time head coach had taken a position after leaving Dowagiac the year before.

I choose, "Let the Dogs Out" because of its resonance for our town which is also known as "Dog Patch". Growing up, that was a name that held some enigma for me in that it represented the personality and heart of our city. It has a deep grit and blunt force to it that you feel talking with someone from Dowagiac. It also resonates deeply with the history of the town as a midpoint between Chicago and Detroit that reaches into untold stories of bootleg generations came before us. It is very Michigan. It is the home of Chris Taylor Bronze medal winning Olympic Wrestler who at one time took on Andrea the Giant and after Chris's passing the city named the field after him giving my generation an idea for excellence and proof that greatness is born out of our city. Greatness that surrounds us in every direction. Mohammad Ali lived in the town next door. He may be showing up to our games I'd think. Just like the thought that David Letterman may be in the stands in disguise because he had been the roommate in college to our then Principle. Billy Gordan had just been in the movie "Coming to America" and had graduated with my step-mother. Sinbad had reached into his potential as a comedian actor and though he grew up in Benton Harbor one of our rivals a few minutes away, his family had roots in Dowagiac. These legacies of local potential held great sway in the influence of my mind of identity of expectation. I needed something that the alumni would too be compelled to join in on and feel deeply obligated to and Dog Patch had strong weight of emotional meaning associated with the underdog and the unexpected that has a gravity for our town going back to the days when Varsity club initiations were brutal and neighboring teams would fight with fist and knives after the Friday night games in parking lots between the cities. Rivalries that lived on in our parents’ memories and you could feel spark of from the stands during the games. I had to ignite this spark. I had much teen spirit in me that was looking for a channel of expression and this event was the moment I found to fit into the crowd and connect with my peers in a way that typically I could not. I settled on these words, I chose those words, "Let the Dogs Out". It was my intention to tap into the deepest reserves of our potential, to let the spirit of Dowagiac out and win without warning or apology. To meet the measure of value and exceed the expectations placed into us by our community and the belief instilled in us by our teachers, coaches, family and friends. To break the mold completely for what is possible and probable.

Mrs. Vickerman in her youth was the valedictorian and Miss Dowagiac of our town. She had a very strong impact on my class and was our English and reading teacher. She was in many ways the Mary Poppins of my City. She would tell us that she returned to our home town because the spirit told her that my class needed her, and it is true. We did. She gave us all hope. In seventh grade about the time that Coach Thomas arrived from Texas and his day as a Houston Oilers professional football player she was teaching us how to meditate. In 7th grade year book you can see an image we took during her class of Andy Kruger, another boy and I in lotus position meditating, we were supposed to be hovering 3 foot off the floor, but the photo team for the year book left the table in the picture, this picture was my idea and she approved. In her home, she had the entire time life encyclopedia of the unknown secrets of the universe, I wanted to read every one of them and she encouraged out of the box thinking and creativity. She would listen to us and answer difficult questions that no other adult would address with compassion, like belief in ghost and aliens. She believed in us with so much optimism and invitation to dream that you wanted to live with a total immersion into belief for this moment, not some later time, but now, this now, that I then felt so present and eternal, just like this, the potential that she intuited for us, what the news people had started to call the X Generation, however Mrs. Vickerman said we were Indigo Children of the next wave. She told me of a vision that she had where the world was stretched out into a balance of 7 worlds laying on top of each other, that they seemed to be ages and periods of time simultaneously emerging in parallel dimensions. I asked her if that one could learn to move between them and integrate these worlds and that it was our highest calling to be this bridge, that all generations could fit into the singularity and move together into the next world, the new world that was only just over the horizon but that my generation was on the planet to usher in. She acknoledge my questions saying she had read entire books that sum up exactly what I had just said. This was the best I could do to express the understanding and respect I held for this vision which later I found many of those ideas and the thread of her logic of possible influence reflected by thinkers like Ken Wilber, Michael Murphy, Timothy Leary, Stanislav Grof, Blavatsky, Jose Arguelles, Joseph Campbell, as well as embedded in world religious studies that I found on this quest of discovery, self-analysis and the cultivation of a creative innovative intuitive auto-poetic journal process that resembled something between Ira Progoff, Ph.D. and Jack Kerouac's rules for spontaneous writing, this became my soul occupation of interest for several years while teaching myself how to fast on distilled water for long periods of time culminating in an integral nutritional developmental index and a phonetic restructuring of our alphabet that I call the Axon Meta Matrix.

Our home town announcer Dean Brussler had a voice that filled the arena with excitement was sometimes a stir of pandemonium, his voice was the hypnotic and tranquil voice of an old time radio man. His excitement would often be infections and I cannot help but to feel like he had some influential mention for the example for how to speak and express yourself to thousands of people. I run into him once visiting my home town after and he was in his Eighties then. He saw me walking by, had not seen me for more than 20 years since I'd left for college, and calls out, "Johnny", Can you help me understand why they have so many different waters to choose from, seems to me it’s all water? We spoke for a while, and you know what, it catalyzed me into that very same state that was always accessible at those games for me, when I would hear his voice over those loud speakers announcing the games. This state I have since recognized as a big mind zero-point awareness and primal emptiness spoke of in Zen philosophies perhaps, this is what it felt like to me

When I first whispered that chant to myself, it was clear and decisive, I had a vision of total victory, such that I don't remember a difference between the vision and the actuality of what actually took place. It took no time at all for others to pick up on it after I first chanted it. We started chanting 00 00.. 00.. 00.. The ball went up.. I yelled, Let the Dogs Out, it was caught, a touch down was run. Then Boom the cannon and everyone was chanting Let the Dogs Out, For the next 9 games spanning 65 days we chanted as one voice gathering momentum of numbers to the championship with some 36 thousand people from our town and neighboring cities who we had defeated, often by large score, thundering together at the silver dome in Detroit. "OO OO Let the Dogs Out"

I never had heard this chant before it came to my mind in the way that I chanted it. Even now, it isn't the same cadence as has become common. Earlier that day my friend had been chanting OO OO at the pep rally, it was new and fun, and we all joined in with him. I put careful thought into deriving something that I felt would connect all of us for this common focus and intention as a social force of will. Let the Dogs Out is what fit. For me it is interesting to hear of other moments when this chant may have been uttered previously even all the way back to the 70's with the Dowagiac kids yelling to set the dog pound loose. Still, it appears that this was the first momentum based collaboritive whole culture impressional use of "Who Let the Dogs Out" that lead to global adpoption. It is a point where a butterfly flapped its wing.

Collectively many I'm sure had been told to "let the dogs out" at some point or had heard it yelled by a frustrated member of the family who found the door open and the dog missing, likely since mans best friend has been allowed indoors. I really was hoping to come up with something totally strange and new, something totally and completly unique to my own imagination, Let the Dogs Out though was somehow shared or barrowed text from some influence I couln't put my finger quit on. But this is why it would work I thought, I could come up with something original later, right now, we needed to win and we needed to congeal. Let the Dogs out, it is an archetype that goes back to antiquity. It is built into the common lexicon of use and strikes from an authoritative call to action that is deep in our developmental core of response. It likely has epigenetic DNA triggers rooted in automatic involuntary linkage to a time when life depended on the relationship between humanity and canine. In our youth when given this chore of letting the dogs out, the anger and frustration of having to account for a missing dog who has been let out and the consequence of chasing that dog once it has left the proximity of the home. That feeling in our bones, it had strong resonance with the collective unconscious, the underdog in the subtext of the term "dogpatch"; in the stands before I committed myself to the chant I processed this thought and these ideas, because it was the perfect solution, the most poignant expression. I remember a moment sometime through my early childhood sitting in the stands with my parents and family friends. It is one of these moment you take note of and shelve it as reference in your mind like a Kiefer Sutherland flash back from Dark City. John Velthouse who played football in Dowagiac with my father and Chris Taylor often would bellow out seeminly random commands to the field. On one instant I remember he yelled, "Let the Dogs Out", this is the first and only time I heard him say it, I turned and looked at him and asked him where that came from.. it seems that then I chanted it a few times too in mimic with him.. but it never became more than that at that time.. but I told him it was really good, said that everyone should chant this together, and he said nobody would join in. I don't remeber it being uttered agian until I recalled it again in 1990. This is years before 1990 when I must have been in juinor high because I was not yet in the highschool band. Curious I have returned on this memory to ask my father about it. He explains that the offensive and deffensive lines have always been called the Dog Pound and known to be the back bone of the team.. that it was normal back in the day for them to yell something about letting the dogs out, or loose, or setting them free on the feild to play, since they watch profootball as kids.

I was 17 and I felt I was breaking through to the entire world, as I chanted it at the Silver Dome in 1990 I stated that I was "Concretizing LIGHT, Breaking the cosmic stratosphere of all barriers and writing on the stars." I've been working to restore the steps that lead to catalyzing "let the dogs out" since the moment everyone joined in with me to chant it.

In 1995 I was on the 3rd tape of an audio journal that spanned 1994 - 1996. This is a bit from that tape. On this tape I also talk of news related events from that period of time, however for this cut I have only centered on the Let the Dogs Out Portion:


People have attributed the chant to a bus driver in Dowagiac who would yell it any chance he could get, He was a great guy with terrific spirit, that bus driver, he loved to instigate the chant on all occasions.

Ben Sisto, the self proclaimed world leading expert on Who Let the Dogs Out has a theory he adheres too, that all art is derivative, or that all creative originality is derived from something previous, and it is a difficult theory to argue with, especially when you toss Joseph Campbell's theories of archetypes, Jung's Collective Unconscious, the Nooshere of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and concepts of universal mind into the bowl game. Creativity, it is subconscious or consciously derived. Even our first words are mimic. So, for me the question is what you do with the life you are given and at what point this thing you are doing becomes personal and unique? Becomes something innovative and moving beyond ever been done, becomes as Terrence Mckenna would say, NOVEL? Brian Eno has said that, "Art is anything that you do not have to do." Alex Grey says that "Art is the Physical trail that an artist leaves behind to mark out the territory of a state that they have attained to and would like to return in sustained way." in his book, "The mission of Art".  Rambling Jack Elliot was the first to declare that Bob Dylan was not an imitation of Himself and Woody Guthrie. We are driven for an evolutionary moment in our collective developmental histories perhaps, the markings on the cave wall at a U2 Concert. The way a collective chant breaks through our inhibition and can transport us into states of group sync. I think about the state attained to in the continual drive toward ultimate victory in those 11 games, the hyperventilation and full breath chanting all in with devotion and commitment to the vision. The refinement of voice and tone so that I could hear through the mix and mash of the thousands, piercing through like a pure shock wave of concentrated light, believing that I was at the nexus of all humanity heard like it was some type of shared religious experience.

I say, "Let the Dogs Out". For me it never was a question, but a declaration of war, a battle cry, like "da da da dat da da CHARGE! “.. this had its own cadence and breathing momentum, ooo ooo (breath) let the dogs out, ooo ooo, (breath) let the dogs out. It was others in our community who began asking and made t-shirts that changed it to, “Who Let the Dogs Out?", because it can sound like we were chanting "Whoo whoo Let the Dogs Out", I was not excited about the change, I tried to explain that it was wrong to several people but realized it was to late, that Who Let the Dogs Out was fixed in the mind of the population. this was not as is currently the norm cultivated by Joe Gonzalez AKA. PappaWheelie in 1992* after hearing of Let the Dogs Out on a visit to Michigan from an elementary school friend he hadn't seen since he had moved away. The Chant it can be postulated had taken an accumulative life of its own in different parts of Michigan and into Canada stemming from Dowagiac's 1990 State Championship season by 1992. I remember when in Detroit at the Hotel, correcting people from chanting who let the dogs out, who who, who let the dogs out, who who as can be heard in our video of the way the team had been chanting it, to OO-OO-Let-the-Dogs-OUT OO-OO-Let-the-Dogs-Out which was the correct enunciation of the chant, Jason and I had that hotel echoing through the center with such force they thought that we would be kicked out. We were told to shut it down right quick.

(first studio recorded version of "Who Let the Dogs Out")

I was a bit surprised back in the Western Michigan University around 1992 when telling story of the time I came up with a chant that seemed to rock the world to a college roommate who doubted my part in the story, He talked about having heard of a song in Florida of all places. Just like me when I had my turn in the seat of the catalyst for this emergent meme, someone else had lent their talent and unique touch on what the song to this point has become. Joe Gonzales had heard the chant from a friend on a visit to Michigan in 1991, then took it back with him to Florida and sampled and created the cadence for the hook that we currently know, "who let the dogs out, who who who who.." Listening to a song by Bass Patrol called Da' Mad Scientist, he mistook a single phrase only spoken once at minute 1:31, he thought he heard, "who let the dogs out!". Listening again, thinking he might have found the source for what his friend in Michigan had told him, then realized that the words Bass Potrol were actually saying were, "who's running his dog out" or something like that. Yelling "Who Let the Dogs Out" back and fourth to eachother hysterically laughing, Joe and his writing partner Brent Hammock decided to make this the refrain of the new song they had been working on at the time that had been tenatively named, "Crystal Palace" This was 1992 and is the first studio version of a song with the hook, "Who Let the Dogs Out in it". Below you can hear at minute 1:31 the key point of reference in "Da' Mad Scientist" that inspired Joe.

My intention is to clarify my position and perspective in this history in representing the truth of the moment that I lived in while the chant was in my and Dowagiac's custody of the year 1990 and confirm to you that to my mind, I had never heard "let the dogs out" but for the moment early on when John Velthouse a family friend who I new since was an infant that had been my soccer coach with my father and to many of my peers who were on the field playing in the football games that season had bellowed it that one time during a game years prior. My hope was to fufill that idea of what might happen if we all chanted this together, to get a call back from the earlier generation and it worked, OO-OO-Let-the-DAWGS-OUT has its own signature cadence and inflection, it is not the same cadence of the songs others have composed or chanted in recorded testimony and history that are self-referentially illogically retorical and deviated constructions. OO-OO-Let-the-DAWGS-OUT is to me a totally original perfected phrasology of use of a mantra form and artistic archaic neural linguistic poetic representation sygnergistically sythesized through the mind of a 17 year named John Micheal Davis who has provided all the details of the ecsalation point of convergence at this time some 29.5 years later in alignment with a full year of Saturn. In this chant it was my intention to build a bridge for every friend, coach and familiar of influence from the stands to communicate full support and direct investment of involvement to the players (family and friend) on the field. I believe these voices together catalyzed an in the zone momentum to play to their full potential on the field and for the fans to be totally with it every step of the way. I am grateful to had been a wittness to this event. For me this is about the words that facilitate the feeling of community and purpose. It’s about you and what will it look like when you and yours "Let the Dogs Out" in your own unique and individual way. I cannot wait to witness your greatest probable possible potential as you bring forth that intrinsic excitement into the world of the sacred center of your ultimate best.

Its 2000, I'm visiting my home town, talking with Jason, who in 1990 that day initiated at a pep rally the OO-OO portion of the chant. I say to him, "You know we came up with that song on the radio, "Who let the Dogs Out"?" I explain the details, much of what is stated above, we have this conversation, Jason ask, "What can we do about it?", I told him with certainty standing up and speaking like as if I had a shakespearean monologue, "One day, a documentary film crew will come into town and want to know the real story. We will tell them this story." 20 years later, that has happened. The chant itself continues to echo through the world.

Via Giphy

- John Michael Davis

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