Mythical Monday: Scotland’s Dog Suicide Bridge by Mae Clair

In searching a topic for today’s Mythical Monday, I happened upon a strange tale that will certainly strike at the heart of any pet lover.

Many people love to take their dogs for a walk. Whether it’s a turn around the neighborhood, a stroll down a country lane or a jaunt through the park, it’s a relaxing experience for owner and companion. If you have a dog, you may have even meandered across a bridge or two, your best friend trotting happily at your side. The image certainly conjures a quaint picture.

Unless you happen to be walking your pet on the Overtoun Bridge in Scotland. 

Overtoun_Bridge_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1024544

Looking across Overtoun Bridge. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia. Lairich Rig [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tucked into the countryside, near the town of Dumbarton, the Overtoun Bridge is a gothic looking structure that carries a much darker name—the Dog Suicide Bridge. Built in 1895, it soars fifty feet over a placid stream below.

Since the 1960s more than fifty dogs have leapt to their death from the bridge. Making that anomaly even stranger is the fact all of the dogs have jumped from the exact same spot, and each apparent “suicide” has occurred on pleasant, sunny days. All of the dogs involved have been “long-nosed” breeds—collies, labradors and retrievers.  A few, fortunate enough to survive the fall, returned to the top of the bridge and leapt from the same spot again, as if compelled by a supernatural force.

Why this horrifically odd behavior from man’s best friend? Is it possible a dog can suffer depression and commit suicide? Or is the bridge cursed, as some speculate?

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Overtoun House, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia. By dave souza (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s long been believed animals have a keener sense of the spirit world than humans. Perhaps the dogs in question sensed a malevolent presence in Overtoun House, a nearby residence rumored to be haunted. Or perhaps they detected something extraordinary in an area considered a “thin place.” According to legend, Overtoun exists in a region where Heaven and earth are nearly joined.

The most practical explanation to date involves the presence of mink below the bridge. In marking their territory, it’s believed the mink emit a scent powerful enough to lure the dogs to their death. Overcome by the odor, the dogs react instinctively. Blinded by the wall rising beside them, they fail to realize the height from which they plummet.

Why, however, would any animal that survived such a fall, willingly return to the bridge and jump again?

Perhaps the answer will never be known. Thus any dog-owner should be wary when taking their pet for a stroll across Scotland’s Overtoun Bridge. I certainly would!

18 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Scotland’s Dog Suicide Bridge by Mae Clair

  1. Fascinating and scary. I certainly wouldn’t walk a dog there. I do believe animals can sense things we don’t see or feel. I know its recorded animals are often aware of earth tremors before people know about them. So very strange. I’ll be wondering about this all day.

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    • Good point about earth tremors, Daisy. I’ve heard that too. I thought this was a strange tale indeed. And those poor dogs! I would definitely make sure I had a firm grip on my pet’s leash if I walked my dog on this bridge. Probably best just to avoid it altogether.

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    • I thought the “thin place” was fascinating as well, Flossie. What an intriguing concept and a shiver-inducing term. I really feel for the pet owners though. What a horrible thing to have happen to their dog!

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  2. Odd place indeed! Poor doggies, what a horrible fate! I do believe in animals having a greater sensitivity regarding haunted places, of the spirits world, than we humans have. Who knows what they might have felt as being wrong with advancing further on the bridge? I wonder why nobody asked mediums or people with paranormal abilities to inspect the area. Thanks for sharing this interesting, but sad story with us!

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    • Hi, Carmen. Great to see you here again 🙂

      I believe in that aspects of pets too. Sometimes my cats would freak me out a bit when they focused on something I couldn’t see. And they always seemed alert to changes in weather and coming storms.

      There was a psychic who took her dog across the bridge and said she felt no impressions of anything unusual. Her dog was fine too. I also think there have been several documentaries on the bridge and the phenomenon. Even the psychic said she couldn’t discount all the dog deaths that had occurred there. It really makes you pause and wonder!

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  3. Another one of my favorites Mae. I didn’t realize that Overtoun is considered a “thin place” where Heaven and Earth are nearly joined. I love this concept, that there are specific hot spots where people or spirits could essentially cross over if they could find the way.

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    • It’s great fodder for a book, isn’t it? My creative wheels were spinning as soon as I read that part. I love all the nuggets that are found in folklore. Glad you enjoyed the post, Cd!

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  4. Isn’t it interesting that only dogs sense the “something…” Well, I for one will avoid taking my dog(s) for a stroll down Overtoun Bridge…or any other pet…just to make sure! Great post Mae and maybe you ought to consider writing an encyclopedia of the strange and bizarre,,,

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    • LOL! I’ve certainly collected enough strange tales to start an encyclopedia! And now I’ll know if I ever make it to Scotland, I shouldn’t walk a dog on the Overtoun Bridge! 🙂

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    • That term is so intriguing. I love it too! Maybe I’ll have to do a Mythical Monday post on animals sensing the spirit world one of these days, as I certainly agree with you on that point. Hope you’re enjoying your Monday, Mary!

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  5. Well, an intriguing title! I got goosebumps as I read through. It’s a stunning bridge but I wouldn’t be walking my dog across it (if I had one). I’m off to Google this now. Thanks, Mae.

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