Published on Monday, 01 July 2013 00:00
Since the early 60s, there have been a number of reports of dogs throwing themselves off a particular bridge in Scotland for reasons unfathomable to man.
Near the charming little village of Milton in Scotland, a 100-year-old gothic bridge stretches out over a gorge river, home to a sinister, tragic mystery. Over a span of 50 years, around 50 dogs have leapt to their deaths all from one specific spot on the bridge.
Witnesses who have seen the dogs carrying out the dirty deed saw them willingly climb over the high parapet and plunge 12 – 15 meters to their demise.
One such witness was Donna Cooper. Donna and her husband were taking a pleasant stroll on the bridge with their young son as their inquisitive Border Collie, named Ben, sniffed around and explored like how dogs usually do. Suddenly without so much of a warning, Ben jumped up onto the parapet and dropped out of sight. Donna’s husband rushed down the steep bank to the river gorge below to find Ben lying limp and fatally wounded.
“His paw was broken, his jaw was broken and his back was broken and badly twisted. The vet decided it wasn't worth putting him through the pain, so we had to let him go,” Donna recalled.
Another first hand encounter by a more fortunate dog-owner was by Kenneth Meikle. Kenneth had watched on in horror as his Golden Retriever, Hendrix, jumped over the parapet at virtually the same spot that Ben leapt from.
“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,” Kenneth recounted. “As I did so, her hair started to fall out. It must have been shock because when we got her home, she shook all night. Next day, thank goodness, she was fine. We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall.”
Other dogs have not been as lucky as Hendrix. They met the same fate as Ben did. And it is a recurring circumstance especially for long-nosed breeds; Labradors, Collies, and Retrievers. All of the dog suicides take place typically on bright, sunny days, at a precise location of the bridge; between the final two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge.
Dorren Graham, of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals labelled the phenomenon a “heartbreaking mystery”.
“There are lots of owners whose dogs have died and who are trying to find out why they jumped.”
So why did these dogs take the plunge? Are they deliberately committing suicide?
Multiple theories have emerged trying to explain this creepy, vicious cycle. Celtic priests believe that Overtoun is also known as “the thin place” where heaven and earth meet, and dogs sensing this, leap off in an attempt to enter another world. Others reckon that the dogs pick up on the suicidal thoughts of their owners and kill themselves in place of their beloved masters. While the remaining pass it off as a string of bizarre coincidences. A more scientific theory suggests that the dogs were drawn to odours emanating from mice, minks and squirrels in the undergrowth below the bridge and felt an intense urge to investigate the smell.
A portal into another world, dying in place of their owners, a series of coincidental events, and exceptionally fragrant rodents all sound like a crock of bullshit to me. Sometimes there are things in this world that are simply beyond explanation. It is an awful fate to befall these precious, furry ones and preventive measures should be taken to keep canines away from this bridge.