There are some things in this world that are simply beyond explanation. Like the fact that in the past 50 years, about 50 dogs have jumped to their deaths from the exact same spot on the 100-year-old Overtoun Bridge in Milton, near Dumbarton, Scotland. In 2005, five dogs had jumped in a span of just 6 months. The canine suicide spot is located between the last two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge, which is where all the dogs took the fatal leap. And to add to the strangeness, almost all the incidents have taken place on clear, sunny days, the dogs always being long-nosed breeds – collies, retrievers and labs.
The situation, according to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is a ‘heartbreaking mystery’. “There are lots of owners whose dogs have died and who are trying to find out why they jumped,” the Society says. One of the victims on the bridge was collie dog Ben, who leaped to his death in 1995 while taking a walk with his owner Donna Cooper, her husband, and her son, Callum. Without any warning, Ben just leapt over the parapet and landed on the rocks below after a 50ft fall. Suffering a broken paw, back and jaw, the vet decided that it wasn’t worth putting him through the pain. “Callum still asks about Ben. He was very upset by the dog’s death and wants to know if his leg has been fixed in heaven,” said Cooper, a year after Ben’s death. The case of golden retriever Hendrix was pretty much similar, although she got very lucky. Kenneth Meikle, her owner, said, “I was out walking with my partner and children when suddenly the dog just jumped. My daughter screamed, and I ran down the bank to where the dog lay and carried her up to safety. Next day, thank goodness, she was fine. We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall.”
Several theories have surfaced, of course, to explain the bizarre effect that Overtoun Bridge has on dogs. The bridge itself was built in 1895 by Calvinist Lord Overtoun. The Victorian structure, 50 ft in height, runs over the Overtoun Burn stream below. The most obvious theory that’s been doing the rounds is that the bridge is haunted – the oldest reason in the book. Rumors state that in 1994, Kevin Moy, a local, threw his baby boy from the bridge, calling him the anti-Christ. Shortly, he made an unsuccessful attempt to end his life at the same spot. He later said the bridge was haunted. Celtic mythology offers and explanation as well – that Overtoun is a ‘thin place’, an area where heaven and Earth are at their closest. Since dogs are more sensitive than humans, they are believed to pick up the vibrations more easily, leading to their strange behavior. The question remains – are the dogs spooked by something supernatural, prompting them to leap to their deaths?
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