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Dog Suicide Bridge - Mystery Most Macabre

Dogs, like the ignorant, live in bliss. Seeing a depressed dog is like seeing the opposite of a unicorn. When treated with kindness, a dog will go through life with a wagging tail and a goofy grin.

For a long time, scientists believed that animals felt no emotions. At least not like humans do. René Descartes proposed the idea in the 1600s that only humans can experience emotions. Modern researchers have come around to the fact that animals live complex emotional lives. Charles Darwin was the first to suggest that animals are more than biological machines.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an animal behavior researcher, diagnosed a dog with anxiety and depression in the 80s. His research has pioneered the field of animal behavioral studies.

So if dogs can become depressed, do they knowingly commit suicide? This is the story of the dog suicide bridge of Overtoun.

Grim Reaper leads dog on a bridge
Follow me if you want to die

Overtoun Bridge - Driving Dogs to Death

  © Copyright Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Doggy Devil Dwells Here

There is a bridge in Scotland with a dark reputation. Overtoun Bridge spans across a river in the Overtoun Burn, north of Milton, Scotland. The bridge is also known as the Dog Suicide Bridge.

John Campbell White inherited Overtoun House in 1884. He wanted to make accessing the home easier, and commissioned an architect, Henry Milner, to design and build a bridge spanning the nearby ravine.

The bridge operated just fine for nearly 70 years. No reports of strange occurrences exist in those early years. By the 1950s, things changed.

Dogs seemed compelled to leap off of the bridge. As if guided by the grim reaper's hand, they leap onto the parapet, and then down into the ravine far below.

The ravine is 50-feet (15 meters) deep at its lowest point. According to the official count, more than 600 dogs have taken the leap. Not every dog that leaps has died. Only around 50 dogs have died from the act. Those dogs that survive the fall have been known to race back up to the dog suicide bridge and jump again.

In 1994, according to this Vice article, a man went insane on the Overtoun Bridge. Okay, he might have been insane before stepping onto the bridge. The 32-year-old became convinced that his son was the Antichrist. He threw the infant over the edge before attempting to take the plunge himself. His wife managed to stop him from following their son over the edge.

The man was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and he was committed to a psychiatric hospital for care.

Bridge is Possessed - Theories

Obviously, the bridge is haunted. That's the only logical explanation, right? Either Henry Milner, or John Campbell White made a pact with dog-Satan and the price was the souls of innocent puppers.

Dogs only leap when certain conditions are met. The day has to be clear. Only long-nosed breeds have taken the plunge. The dogs all leap from the same spot, the last 2 ramparts on the right-hand side of the bridge. Locals say that this is the same part of the bridge where the man cast his son over the edge.

Not so fast, says Dr. David Sands, an animal behaviorist from Chorley, Lancashire. He proposed, in 2014, that the smell of wild animals in the ravine was to blame. Mice, rabbits, and the stinky mink are known to dwell in the ravine below. Dr. Sands also suggests that the dense foliage surrounding the bridge gives dogs the impression that the ground is even on the other side of the bridge. Add to this biological drive to hunt mink the fact that the parapet of the bridge is tapered, and you have a recipe for doggy doom.

Dr. David Sands has stated that dogs are incapable of suicide. In the documentary he made on the dog suicide bridge of Overtoun, Dr. Sands said:

"I think it's highly likely in all the cases here at Overtoun Bridge that it was curiosity that killed the dog."

Others hold fast to the idea that the bridge is haunted by dark forces. They cite bad vibes and walking into sudden cold-spots as all the evidence they need. Some locals blame the "White Lady of Overtoun", the ghost of a widow who haunts Overtoun Burn. They say the White lady intoxicates the dogs with her sorrow and drives them to suicide on the bridge.

Whether you believe the scientists or true believers, the fact remains that the bridge has a dark history.



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