Overtoun Bridge is called the dog suicide bridge for a good reason. Through the decades more than 50 dogs have died jumping off this bridge that some locals believe is a portal from one world to the next.
The dog suicide bridge makes headlines every couple of years when another dog jumps off this eerie bridge in Scotland’s countryside. Some locals consider the bridge is some kind of portal linking our world into the next. Some also consider that the dogs see spirits on that bridge and they somehow induce the dogs to jump.
Yahoo News reports on March 1, that the bridge, which was constructed in 1895 by Lord Overtoun, has had more than 50 dogs jump to their death since the 1950s. This is not a fast paced bridge, it seems like the only traffic it sees is perhaps a stray cow occasionally, so it’s not as if traffic scared the dogs.
The death of these dogs do have some elements in common, like almost every reported dog death occurred on a sunny, clear day. The bridge averages one dog death a year, but several have died at that spot during a 6-month period of time, which is way over average.
Another habit seen in the dog suicides in addition to the weather is the breed of dogs jumping. The most predominate subjects are dogs with long-snouts like retrievers, collies and Labradors.
Historic Mysteries calls Overtoun Bridge a “romantic looking stone bridge,” but quite a few canine tragedies have taken place here. They explain the scene as, “Beneath the Overtoun Bridge, the burn is shallow and rocky. Consequently, it is a dangerous jump for even agile dogs, though several have survived.”
A further unusual reported phenomenon, is that “some of them(dogs) even jump again after surviving, as outlined by stories. So, we understand why the dogs die when they make the jump, but the question truly is why they make the jump in the first place.”
Kennethh Meikle’s dog Hendrix, a golden retriever, was one of the latest dogs to jump off the bridge. Meikle’s dog was fortunate enough to land in a patch of moss below breaking its fall. The dog’s owner describes how one minute the family was taking a relaxing country walk and the next minute their beloved dog jumped over the side of the bridge falling 50-feet below.
While his daughter screamed because the dog went over the bridge, Meikle went around and down the embankment to find the dog. Hendrix was alive, but very shaken. He scooped up his best friend and brought him home, where Meikle details his behavior as like being in “shock.” The dog began to lose clumps of hair. This shock-like state with the dog still shaking continued through the night and then the next day Hendrix was fine.
Based on Yahoo, some think that the bridge has paranormal activity taking place on and around the bridge. Some think the bridge “is actually haunted, describing the structure as a ‘thin place’ – somewhere where the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead are at their closest.”
One concept given for the strange suicide-like behavior of dogs on the bridge is that “the bridge “is crossover between Heaven and Earth. This “would mean dogs – who some believe are more sensitive to the world of the paranormal – could be seeing ghosts and spirits.”
Some of the details noted about the events on the bridge are:
Long-nosed dogs commit most of the suicides at Overtoun Bridge
Long-nosed breeds are bred for tracking or retrieving prey
The weather is typically clear when a dog jumps
The bulk of the dogs jump from the same side of the bridge
The dogs have to climb the walls of the bridge to jump, which takes little, but at least some effort
If dogs had the inclination or the natural ability to commit suicide, this would be observed all over the world with dogs, but it is not. The dog deaths on the bridge are more similar to an accidental suicide, as something is drawing them to the bridge wall, where they jump to their deaths below.
A more sensible justification and an explanation based in science is provided by Historic Mysteries. They publish:
“The answer to the Overtoun Bridge dog deaths may rest in their superior senses of smell. Dogs, particularly long-nosed breeds, are very attracted to the scent of prey and there is plenty of it below the bridge. Apparently, there are odoriferous minks living on the burn.”
The dogs cannot see over the bridge walls before they jump, so they have no concept what danger looms on the other side. So if they smell the minks they may head over the wall with minks and only minks on their minds. The minks are similar to skunks because they secrete a musk with a very hefty odor from their anal glands, so probabilities are if the minks are there, the dogs smell them.
The dogs may think they are just jumping over a wall found on flat land, not knowing there is a 50-foot drop on the other side. Under this concept, the dogs, who appear as if they abruptly chose to commit suicide with this jump, were in fact doing nothing more than following their noses.
The Historic Mysteries stated that this mink theory does have some holes in it as the dogs who came back to the bridge after surviving a fall had walked by minks and never made a move for them, however when they got to the bridge, they jumped again.