If you are a dog person and you have gone through the dreadful yet inevitable day of losing your faithful furry friend, you will know what it feels like. Now imagine what those people felt like when they saw their friends leap off a bridge only to land on the rocky bed 50 feet below. Witnessing your dog meeting a tragic end is not heartbreaking and earth shattering. We know there is no good word to describe the pain.
But that is true. There is a bridge that has earned the notorious name of Dog Suicide Bridge. More than 50 dogs have jumped off the bridge, which apparently looks like a suicidal jump. Except for one dog, every other dog that has jumped off of that bridge has died and it was only a gruesome death! The only dog to survive this tragedy is a dog named Cassie who is owned by a woman named Alice.
The Overtoun Bridge
Located in Scotland’s Dumbarton is a village called Milton. That is where this beautiful bridge called Overtoun Bridge is located. Built in 1859, this arch bridge rises 50 feet above the ground. Starting 1950’s the bridge suddenly came into focus not because of the picturesque view it offers but because of the growing number of canine deaths, all of which plummeted to their deaths from the bridge.
Not all breeds of dogs though…
Interestingly, not all breeds of dogs succumb to this mystery. Only those breeds that have long noses are the ones that suffer this tragic fate. For example – Border Collies.
The Overtoun Bridge is haunted!
Though the unusual event of dogs jumping off the bridge started back in 1950s and the rate of such so-called suicidal jumps picked up a little in 1960s, it was not until the early 1990s that the rumors started spreading about the bridge being haunted.
What really led to the rumors?
A man named Kevin Moy, who was a local resident, on a fine day in 1994, committed a heinous crime. He threw his baby son from the bridge. The baby was killed. He did so because he claimed that the baby was anti-Christ. Later, the man himself attempted suicide. Unfortunately, he survived his jump. Ever since then, stories started circulating that the Overtoun Bridge was haunted.
So, what happens to the dogs?
It wasn’t the gruesome death of the baby boy that tagged the bridge as haunted. The event was only the catalyst that was needed for the story to spread like wildfire. As far as the dogs are concerned, the unfortunate owners gave really eerie descriptions about their unhappy and tragic events.
All of them reported that they were out on the bridge to walk their dogs. They didn’t notice anything unusual as the dogs walked right through the bridge until they reached the doomed stop between the last two parapets located on the bridge’s right side. That’s where the dogs lost their minds. They witnessed their dogs climbing up the walls of the parapets and then suddenly, without any warning, jumped off the bridge. While the pattern itself is quite eerie, things became more spectral because all of these heartbroken dog-owners reported that the incidents happened during dry and sunny days.
There are some reports which state that some dogs that managed to survive the first jump quite miraculously, actually climbed back to the same spot and jumped again. Only this time, the end result was that of walking the rainbow after a gruesome end.
So… why did the dogs do so?
Several attempts were made to explain the unusual and mysterious dog suicides (if at all we say so). Let us take a look at them one by one.
THE THIN PLACE theory
So far the story is quite sinister and some condiments of human-made mythology encompassing supernatural presence made the whole explanation to the unexplained phenomenon even further uncanny. Some people came up with a possible explanation whose roots are in Celtic Mythology. They called the Overtoun Bridge’s doomed spot as ‘THE THIN PLACE’.
What is that? According to Celtic Mythology, there are places where the barrier between the worlds of the dead and that of the living is thinned out. Sometimes, the two worlds overlap.
Okay! So what? Well, according to THE THIN PLACE theory, spirits from the world of dead spooked dogs. Then we all kind of know the results… they jumped to get in there and ended up on the rocky bed at the bottom.
The theory earned quite some popularity. In fact, it became so popular that a psychic investigation followed. A psychic took her dog on a leash and visited the area. She did find that her dog pulled over to the right side at the end of the mysterious dog suicide bridge. Luckily the dog was on leash and hence, saved! Later the psychic said that she felt nothing unusual about the place. In fact, she had this feeling of calm and serenity.
So how did this theory come into place? It is because dogs are known to be extremely sensitive to the environment and we believe that they can detect paranormal presence even when we humans fail to do so.
Okay, we agree that dogs are hypersensitive animals but we are not sure whether they really can smell out or manage to see the spirits or not.
The theory of dog being capable of sensing human emotions
When Celtic Mythology didn’t give appropriate answers, a new theory was served hot on the platter. An experiment was conducted in Austria to find out whether dogs are capable of sensing the emotions of their owners. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake was in charge of the experiment. In this experiment, a woman who owned a dog went to work, leaving the dog back at home. The team conducting the experiment changed two key factors:
- She was not allowed to return home at her usual time when the dog would be expecting her. The team decided the time for her return.
- She was not allowed to return home in her own car. She was asked to take a taxi. This was done to rule out the possibility of the dog recognizing any known sound (in this case the sound of her car).
When the woman was asked to go home, she took a taxi. The woman was being filmed all the time. On the other hand, a crew of cameramen were filming the dog simultaneously back at home but from a distance.
Exactly 11 seconds after the woman was asked to return, the dog, back at home, walked up to the window and waited out the 15 minutes it took for its owner to return home. This, according to Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, proved that dogs are extremely capable of sensing the emotions of their owners.
So, what is the connection between this experiment and the unfortunate death of the dogs on the Overtoun Bridge? It turns out that Dumbarton, the area where the bridge is located is in the midst of economic crisis, which has in turn, induced so much negative feeling into the adult population that there was a 200% spike the suicide rates.
So, the proponents of this theory stated that the people who took their dogs for a walk on the Overtoun Bridge or the dog suicide bridge were depressed with suicidal tendencies. Their dogs picked up their feelings and ended up jumping.
This was a pretty outlandish proposition and when the owners were interviewed, they all ruled out any such feeling plaguing them. Thus, this theory failed to explain the mysterious dog suicide cases as well.
Some acoustic anomaly? Maybe!
In a desperate attempt to explain the whole mystery, an acoustic company from Glasgow teamed up with one animal expert named David Sexton. They theorized that dogs are extremely sensitive to sounds. They can hear sounds that humans cannot. Maybe, there is some kind of sound out of the audible frequency range of humans, which is spooking the dogs.
So, they set off investigating unusual sounds. They investigated for:
- Unusual sounds emitted from nearby Faslane where a nuclear base is located.
- Unusual sounds emitted by the telephone pylons of the surrounding area.
- Unusual sounds emitted by the structure of the bridge itself.
Alas! Their search ended as a big disappointment. No such sounds were found that could possibly explain the weird and strange behavior of the dogs.
The irresistible smell of the mink anal gland!
Experts were almost clueless about the mysterious dog suicide bridge. Now, the only thing humans could blame on was the sense of smell that the dogs have. Dogs are extremely sensitive to smell. David Sexton who was involved in the sound anomaly theory was also interested in finding out if smell had something to do with the mysterious dog suicide cases. He investigated the area at the bottom of the bridge and made a remarkable discovery – a hideout for minks and mice. Even squirrels were there!
Sexton questioned – ‘is the answer to this mystery hidden in any of these animals?’ So, he conducted an experiment. He picked up dogs from those breeds that jumped off the bridge. 10 dogs were selected. On a field, certain areas were marked by the scent from mice, squirrels and minks. The dogs were unleashed. 8 out of those 10 dogs headed straight for the scent from the mink.
So, the mink was the culprit! Things started adding up:
- Dogs found the smell of the minks irresistible. The smell we are talking of here is the smell from the anal gland of the animal. It has a strong odor and dogs are extremely attracted to it.
- Minks were introduced in Scotland somewhere in the 1920s but their rapid breeding started somewhere in the 1950s. That’s precisely when the mystery started.
- All incidents happened on dry and sunny days. The smell from the minks is suppressed during rainy and wet seasons because of the ambient smell from wet soil and other factors. Only during dry and sunny days, the smell is strong enough and the dogs simply find it irresistible.
So, the minks were blamed!
The lingering questions
Now that a viable explanation was in place, there were two questions still to be answered.
- Scotland has a population of about 26,000 minks and they are spread across the country. What is so special about the bridge?
- Why did the dogs always choose the same spot?
The answer to the first question is tricky but a viable one.
According to experts, if we get down to the level of the dogs (literally to the height at which they stand), we will notice that their vision is blocked by the walls of the parapets of the dog suicide bridge. Also, the walls are 18” thick granite, which effectively obstructs their sense of hearing as well. Only thing that is not obstructed is their olfactory sense or the sense of smell. This is when the only active sense overtakes the rest of the two and goes into an overdrive mode. The result is that they climb the wall and jump!
What about the second question? Why the same spot? Why not other spots?
Unfortunately, no one has been able to answer this question. It is still a mystery. No one knows why the dogs choose the same spot! So, a part of the mystery still lingers and we humans are still looking for an answer that can possibly console the grieving hearts of all people who lost their beloved friends and loyal companions.