The Hodag (also known as the Bovine Spiritualis) is native to Wisconsin. In fact, it is the official symbol of Rhinelander, Wisconsin where the first one was captured by Eugene Shepard in 1896. Its name comes from combining the words "horse" and "dog."
The Hodag has the head of a bull, the back of a dinosaur, and the leering features of a giant man. Its legs are short, its claws are long, and its tail is spear-tipped. It is a supernatural beast which, in its first life, took the form of an ox that belonged to Paul Bunyan. Upon its death, the ox was burned for seven years to cleanse it of the profanity of its master. But seven years was not long enough. The soul of the ox emerged from the ashes in the shape of a Hodag, exuding a foul odor. The diet of the Hodag is very simple. It only eats white bulldogs, "and those only on Sundays."
For many years Shepard displayed his Hodag at country fairs. The exhibition usually occurred in dim light, and according to malicious rumors what was actually exhibited was a large dog over which a horse's hide had been stretched, but such rumors have never been substantiated.
Jack Cory, editor of the Rhinelander Daily News
, once hypothesized that the Hodag was "the long-sought missing link between the ichthyosaurus and the mylodoan" of the Ice Age.