In an article printed 2.4.2019 about the upcoming release of the Documentary "Who Let the Dogs Out". A timeline is presented that tracks the evolution of use and origination of the popular chant as it has been discovered by Ben Sisto to world leading expert on the historical evolution of the cultural meme from its point of origin in our modern-day language. "Who Let the Dogs Out" is a song that resonates and brings a smile and its history for a modern zeitgeist follows like the songs of the early rock'n Rolll that took on many voices before reaching the mainstream, like Kris Kristofferson's "Bobby Mcgee" before Rambling Jack and then Janis Joplin made it their own.
"Sisto’ s theoretical chant trail goes from the Austin Little League (maybe 1983), Reagan High (as early as 1984, but definitely by 1986), Michigan (1990), Jacksonville, Fla. (1992), Chicago (1994), Toronto (1996), Trinidad (1997), London and Virginia (1998), New York and Bahamas (2000, Baha Men)."*
My place in this line of history happened in Dowagiac, Michigan in 1990. During the interview for the Documentary "Who Let the Dogs Out" and on the phone with Ben Sisto I explained the moment that I, in my own place in time catalyzed a chant "oo oo 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 3rd game of the season, we had lost the previous game. Something new, something original, something that might ignite the fury of Dowagiac. I had a few ideas and tried several without gaining the participation of my peers in the stands. I realized the moment I come to "Let the Dogs Out", that we were going to be unstoppable, not because we wanted it more, not because we were more deserving, but because everyone on all sides of the field wanted to witness a magnificent victory, it didn't matter who would win, someone was going to. It was going to be us, and nothing could stop it, we would let the Dogs Out. It was already ours. It was already done. We had known since grade school.
Dowagiac is a Native American Potawatomi name that means "fishing waters", 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 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 force and I felt that I should live up to that 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, 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. I believed her and wanted it to "come together, right now" like the Beatles said. This was the best I could do to express the understanding and respect I held for this vision which later I found 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. 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 11 games spanning 12 weeks 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 I came up with. For me it is interesting to hear of other moments when this chant may have been uttered and it isn't my intention to take away from those who have some remembrance of having chanted this chant before I came up with it and I wonder the context and the phrasing and the solidarity of the community, and the momentum and power of the people fueling this momentum. For the record I feel it is drastically unfair to call "Who Let the Dogs Out", an annoying song much more the most annoying song, Its not "The Song That Never Ends" by Shari Lewis, or "She Drives Me Crazy" from the Fine Young Cannibals. I'm not saying that either of those songs are terribly annoying, I'm saying that they played "She Drives Me Crazy", so often into the 90's that it might have actually at some point felt like it was "the song that never ends".
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, but this is why this would work I thought, 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 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, in our adolescence, when we want to "Break our rusty cage and Run", I felt that this was the chant that we had to use for this reason and I thought it was original to this use yet enjoyed that it had collective meaning, but I reconciled in the stands that I had to let go of the notion that it was of my own individual mind only and acknowledge that it had strong resonance with the collective unconscious, and 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 could come up with in the moment that was my best chance of getting others to join with me. I was committed to release this chant through public domain, in the context of our games. It was exactly what we needed and hit on so many levels that I believed it was excellent and of divine inspiration. But I was 17 and really wasn't thinking much further than the moment at hand and did not conceive of a concept that Chant would possibly translate to popular culture, I hadn't heard the song by the Beatles, "Why Don't We Do it in the Road" and I was unaware of Mantra, however I did know this had lasting value beyond my own currency of operational conception in the arena of sports enthusiasm. A chant that I had noted as I chanted it at the Silver Dome in 1990 that I was "Concretizing LIGHT and Breaking the cosmic stratosphere of all barriers and writing on the stars."
Ben Sisto 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", 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 had taken an accumulative life of its own in different parts of Michigan stemming from Dowagiac's 1990 State Championship season by 1992.
* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNsCSgORZVc (first studio recorded version of "Who Let the Dogs Out")
I was a bit surprised back in the University around 1992 when telling story of this to a college roommate who doubted my part in the story based on a report of a copyright on the song in Florida of all places. I had no idea it was Joe Gonzalez, after talking with him after my interview for the documentary, I realize that we would have been good friends had I found a way to communicate with him back then, that both he and Brett Hammock (B-Naste) have this shared legacy that has followed us with little to no acknowledgment, but the great oddity of telling our story to those who would hear it of how we had a part in the tale of "Who Let the Dogs Out". I am so glad that "let the dogs out" found its way to Joe and Brett, who were only 17 at the time, just like me when I had my turn in the seat of the catalyst for this emergent meme and also great respect and appreciation for those who lent their talent and unique touch on what the song to this point has become. Then, on that day in 1992 faced with this idea that the phrase had moved on without me, I realized that I lost something vital and deep of my own creative innovation. A chant that I had noted at the time was Concretizing LIGHT! More the moment and the momentum, the purpose and the context for full tilt expression of my voice in a creative context of which I would have to discover, innovate and refine alone, "into this world were thrown"..
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" used in the cadence of phraseology and poetic breath that I personally originated since 1990. 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 be part of this story. 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.
Through all kinds of weather
All the ways we change
all that we do
when times rearrange
floating in like on a breeze
grown up through the trees
Soul Goes On - John Michael Davis