Dog Suicide Bridge

Black Dog Leaping off Overtoun Bridge
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No one knows exactly when or why dogs began to leap from Overtoun Bridge Scotland. Studies indicate that the deaths began during the late 1950s or early 1960s, with an average rate of one dog per month. For reasons that no one understands or can explain, hundreds and hundreds of dogs have killed themselves from the same historic bridge.  During one six-month period last year, five dogs jumped to their deaths. All of the deaths have occurred at virtually the same spot, between the final two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge, and almost all have been on clear, sunny days. The dogs which have perished have all-been long-nosed breeds: labradors, collies and retrievers.

Dorren Graham, of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals calls the phenomenon a 'heartbreaking mystery'. 'There are lots of owners whose dogs have died and who are trying to find out why they jumped.'

Built in 1895 by Calvinist Lord Overtoun, the ornate Victorian structure arches 50ft over Overtoun Burn, the stream which runs below. Now, thanks to stories posted on the internet, dog lovers from around the world are asking: could dogs be deliberately committing suicide on this particular bridge, and if so, why?

In an attempt to solve a problem which has left many local dog owners so concerned, they will no longer walk their pets on the doomed bridge, a host of specialists converged on the west Scotland town earlier this year to investigate - and finally solve the mystery. Rumours have long circulated that the bridge and nearby Overtoun House are haunted. In Celtic mythology, Overtoun is known as 'the thin place' - an area in which heaven and earth are reputed to be close. Certainly dogs have been shown in the past to be more sensitive than humans.

Were they 'spooked' by some supernatural or external force emanating from the bridge, and deliberately leaping to their deaths? Psychic Mary Armour took her own labrador for a walk along the bridge to test the theory. However, she reported no unusual sensations. 'Animals are hyper-sensitive to the spirit world, but I didn't feel any adverse energy.' In fact, Mary said she experienced a feeling of 'pure calmness and serenity' but admitted that her dog did pull her towards the right-hand side of the structure.

Perhaps the dogs jumped to their deaths because they picked up on some human cues. Dumbarton, near to where the bridge is situated, is a site of economic decline and regularly voted one of the most depressing places in Britain to live. Suicide among the adult population has risen 200 per cent in the past three years However, none of the owners whose dogs jumped from Overtoun Bridge reported any suicidal feelings and after careful analysis, Kendal Shepherd concluded: 'Human suicide is usually precipitated by a feeling that tomorrow will not be any better than today. But there is no evidence to suggest dogs have a sense of now and tomorrow.'

So if the dog deaths cannot be attributed to suicide, what is causing them?

In a final bid to solve the mystery, canine psychologist Dr David Sands was dispatched to Dumbarton to try to view the bridge - and the sensation of crossing it - from an animal's point of view. His first experiment was to recross the bridge with the only dog known to have survived the fall, to see how she reacted. When he took 19-year-old Hendrix to the scene of her near-death experience, the dog walked happily across the bridge until towards the end on the right-hand side she suddenly tensed. Because of her advanced age, Hendrix did not have the strength to jump, but something had clearly caught her attention, and Dr Sands concluded one of her three primary senses - sight, sound or smell - must have been so stimulated that she experienced an overwhelming urge to investigate. Sight was quickly eliminated, as from a dog's eye view the only thing visible on the bridge is uninterrupted-granite.

To establish if either sound or smell was the culprit, specialists from a Glasgow acoustics company and the RSPB's David Sexton, an animal habitat expert, visited the spot. Locals thought the nearby nuclear base at Faslane might be emitting some sound audible only to dogs, and there was also the possibility that nearby telephone pylons or the bridge structure itself might give off a sound only animals could hear. However, after monitoring sound levels across the bridge, acoustic experts found nothing untoward that might explain the dog deaths.

Sexton, on the other hand, who laid bait in the undergrowth beneath the bridge, soon discovered that mice and mink resided there, while evidence of squirrel nests was also found in cannons embedded in the bridge's structure. In order to narrow down which smell might be attracting the dogs, he distributed odour from all three species in a field and unleashed ten dogs - of the varieties which have died at the bridge - to see which one most interested them. His findings were remarkable. Of the ten dogs tested, only two showed no interest in any of the scents while the overwhelming majority - 70 per cent - made straight for the mink. It would also explain why the deaths have all occurred on sunny, dry days - relatively rare on the notoriously wet west coast - when the mink smell has not been diluted by the damp weather. Why are dogs in pursuit of them only jumping to their death from this particular bridge? According to Dr Sands: 'When you get down to a dog's level, the solid granite of the bridge's 18-inch thick walls obscures their vision and blocks out all sound. As a result, the one sense not obscured, that of smell, goes into overdrive.' Yet why are all the deaths centered around the final two parapets on the right-hand side?

 In 2006 paranormal investigators were called in to investigate the continuing problem. There were several correlations in what people felt. Three people felt anxious, depressed and disorientated and four felt negative feelings.

    • "There were definite themes of children and several mentioned a Victorian woman in a grey shawl at the far end of the bridge.
    •  I felt lots of children grabbing my legs as I walked across and I felt drawn to the right-hand side. I felt very sick and uncomfortable at certain parts and sometimes it was as though I was sinking through the bridge.
    • I got a sense of children being around and a negative feeling at one end of the bridge. You could analyse why the dogs are jumping till the cows come home, I honestly don't know why they do it.
    • I got the feeling of a man who was possibly a minister. He kept saying he didn't understand evolution, I can't assimilate what I know as Christian with Darwin.
    • I thought maybe a workman had fallen off the bridge to his death and his ghost was down in the gully calling the dogs. I felt lots of children grabbing my legs as I walked across and I felt drawn to the right-hand side. I felt very sick and uncomfortable at certain parts and sometimes it was as though I was sinking through the bridge.
    • I got a sense of children being around and a negative feeling at one end of the bridge. You could analyse why the dogs are jumping till the cows come home, I honestly don't know why they do it."

    According to Amanda De Warren – Medium, Healer & Animal Communicator
    “There is energy around this bridge that dogs can sense and we can't. The dogs that have jumped in the past have told me that it’s like a connection that they cannot resist even though they don't quite understand why they feel the urge to jump but know it will probably be the last thing that they do on this earth. None of these dogs had any reason to want to end their lives but feel is it like a portal to another world that they can see and feel and want to be as part of it once again.” Dog owners should keep their dogs on a leash when going across Overtoun Bridge. It's better to be safe than sorry.

    According to Psychic Focus
    "The first thing I get is I hear this beat in my head that reminds me of a heartbeat... .Then I get that it isn't a sound coming through in that frequency, but rather some electromagnetic pulse is "beating" which somehow "scrambles" the dog’s brain waves for a moment. The dogs feel disoriented for a moment (then I get the analogy that it is similar to the feeling someone with Alzheimer's gets when they find themselves lost and alone in public- complete panic and anxiety stricken). That feeling and moment of what feels like dementia creates this odd behaviour. They are confused, terrified and anxious all at the same time.

    I get there is a huge amount of paranormal activity here (the area had a lot of death, and I get the death was disease related?). This paranormal behaviour that looks static to this area has shifted the balance and altered the normal flow of energy. The constant need for balance is being fought by the extra energy force that resides there. There is a constant push and pull of energy. Every tug of energy in an opposite direction creates the "beat"."



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