The Suicide Dogs of Overtoun Bridge

There's a bridge in Scotland where dogs are said to deliberately commit suicide.

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Urban Legends

Skeptoid #320
July 24, 2012
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In the rolling green foothills outside of West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, stands the impressive Victorian stone mansion known as Overtoun House. It was originally built in the 1860s as the private retreat of industrialist and philanthropist James White, the first Lord Overtoun, from locally quarried granite. It has the ornate look and size of a classic Scottish castle, and leading up to it is a bridge that is no less imposing. The heavy granite structure spans the shallow, rocky creek called Overtoun Burn, 15 meters below the roadway. Something about the bridge has an unusual affect on dogs. The story goes that over the past few decades, at least fifty dogs have leapt the walls and fallen to their deaths on the creek bottom far below. This bridge of doggie doom is known to some as "Rover's Leap", the place that compels dogs to suddenly, and deliberately, commit suicide.

In 1995, a border collie named Ben, owned by Donna Cooper, jumped the wall and fell, injuring himself so badly that he had to be euthanized. Ben's death got picked up by the newspapers, and Overtoun Bridge became a phenomenon. Stories about the dog suicides at Overtoun became so widespread that even the Daily Mail newspaper -- not exactly renowned for its responsible factual reporting -- cited the work of Rupert Sheldrake in an article about the bridge. Sheldrake believes that dogs have psychic powers and maintain a psychic connection with their owners. The Daily Mail also pointed out a potential connection between human suicides in Dumbarton and the Overtoun dog suicides, stating that Dumbarton is "a site of economic decline and regularly voted one of the most depressing places in Britain to live." Thus their citation of Rupert Sheldrake: the dogs became suicidal because of their psychic connections to their suicidal owners. The Daily Mail concluded "So perhaps the dogs jumped to their deaths because they picked up on some human cues." There have been no reports of suicidal tendencies by owners of any of the dead dogs, but nevertheless, virtually every report on the Overtoun Bridge now includes the Daily Mail's nonsensical discussion of Rupert Sheldrake and his psychic dogs.

Some point to the idea of the graveyard of the whales, or the secret place in the jungle where the elephants all go to die, as if they are precedents for a specific location favored by dogs to end their lives. Most popular tellings of the Overtoun Bridge legend mention ghosts that are said to reside at Overtoun House, postulating that perhaps they spook the dogs or somehow haunt them into wanting to jump. It's also commonly noted that a disturbed man once threw his young son off the bridge, and proposed that this indicates some force affects the mind there and compels the dogs to jump. Such flights of fancy are what we call "explaining an unknown with another unknown," and are not explanations at all. We want to know what's actually going on.

And, as is so often the case on Skeptoid, the first question to answer is whether the story's even true or not. Before trying to explain a strange report, first determine whether it actually happened at all, or at least whether it happened as reported. Perhaps Ben the border collie was just a fluke accident. Did Overtoun Bridge genuinely have a history of dog suicides? Sources are all over the map. All have been reported only after Ben's 1995 jump. The Aiken Standard newspaper said "scores of dogs during the past three decades"; the Lennox newspaper in Dunbartonshire said five dogs; the Daily Mail said fifty dogs in fifty years, including six dogs in six months; and the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter said "around 50" dogs have died in the past fifty years. None of these newspapers gave a source for their counts.

In many of the stories I cover here on Skeptoid, it turns out that there's a person somewhere who obsessively collects every piece of data pertaining to their particular mystery: every newspaper clipping, every photograph, everything that anyone knows. When I find such a person, I often learn something new that's never made it into the popular telling of the story. And so, since every version of the Overtoun Bridge story I came across simply retold the same old vague facts, I tried to find the Overtoun Bridge guru. Professor Google did not seem to know of one. I spoke with the Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce; they did not know of either a local historian or of any records of dog jumps. I spoke with the Dog Warden for West Dunbartonshire Council; nothing. I even spoke with the Community Sergeant at the Dumbarton Police Office; she did not know of any such records. Finally, I went straight to the source.

Overtoun House is now a bed and breakfast that supports a Christian shelter for local young women down on their luck. It's run by Bob and Melissa Hill, missionaries from Fort Worth, Texas. At the time I contacted them, they'd been there for over ten years, and I found them happy to share what they know of Rover's Leap. Turns out, it's not much. In those ten years, they've heard of three dogs who jumped, two of which walked away, and one of which was later euthanized due to his injuries. Those three include Ben the border collie and one other, Kenneth Meikle's golden retriever Hendrix, who jumped but survived uninjured. This number dovetails pretty well with that given by a doctor at the local Glenbrae Veterinary Clinic, who has treated four dogs who were injured in falls from the bridge over the past thirteen years.

To me it smacked of urban legend; there seem to be no records at all of any dog deaths, except Ben's; and no reason to suspect Ben had deliberately committed suicide. However, if your dog does jump off a bridge, there's no reason that you would go to the nearest house and report it, or call the police and report it. The lack of official records says very little about whether or not it really happens.

So the answer to our first and most important question, whether an unusual number of dog deaths actually happens at Overtoun Bridge, is unanswered. There are two named and a total of six documented cases, not fifty; and not one a month since the 1950s; a number that does not strike me as suprising. Dogs love to run around and explore. So in practice, I'd shrug this one off at this point until there's at least a proven phenomenon there to explain. But when one of the television crews did a TV show about the bridge, which of course began from the unsupported presumption that dogs truly do come here to deliberately commit suicide, they raised two interested points that made me inquire further.

The first interesting point arose when they asked the question of whether or not it's possible for a dog to commit premeditated suicide. Dr. David Sands, an animal behavioral specialist in Lancashire, thinks not. He does point out that it's common for dogs, cats, and other animals to seek out a quiet hole or cubby when they're near death; but this has to do with their deteriorating physical condition and it's not necessary to introduce anything like premeditation, and certainly not premonition. He states quite emphatically that dogs do not premeditate their own deaths, and therefore it's impossible for them to commit what we humans would call suicide.

Tip Skeptoid $2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

However, it is the construction of the bridge itself that eliminates the need to introduce the question of deliberate suicide. Like Overtoun House, Overtoun Bridge is built from local granite. Its walls are solid granite, waist high on a man, and quite opaque to anyone who is dog height. The solid walls run end-to-end, and a dog has no way of knowing that he's even on a bridge. Trees and shrubs stand higher than the walls, and for a dog, there's no reason to suspect the wall is anything that couldn't or shouldn't be jumped onto in pursuit of whatever compelling adventure calls. But as noted by Ben's master, once he sprang atop the wall he had enough momentum carrying him that there was nothing he could do to prevent a fall. The solid wall virtually eliminates deliberate suicide as a possible cause: since the dog can't see through the wall, the dog doesn't know that death lies on the other side.

It was also David Sands who found a likely candidate for the second interesting point, and that suggested the compelling adventure that called the dogs to check out the other side of the wall. He took Hendrix, the dog known to have survived a fall, for a walk along the bridge. Hendrix was uninterested until they got to one end of the bridge, the end that dogs are said to favor. Hendrix tensed and studied the wall. She was 19 years old at the time and didn't have the strength to do much more than that, but it was enough to suggest further investigation. David Sexton from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Wildlife poked around and found nests of mice, squirrels, and minks. So Dr. Sands set up an informal demonstration with ten dogs to see how they were affected by these scents. On a field prepared with canisters containing mouse, squirrel, and mink scent, one of the dogs went to the squirrel scent, two preferred to play with their masters, and the remaining seven all went straight for the mink scent, many of them quite dramatically.

It's really hard to get into the heads of dogs, as noted by Dr. Richard Wiseman in some of his critiques of Rupert Sheldrake's pyschic dog work. In most cases, we can't know what an animal was thinking when it did something; we can only guess at its motivation, and look for patterns. We know that the hillside below Overtoun Bridge is scented with a tremendous attraction for dogs, at least during times when minks are living there, as was the case during the investigation following Ben's leap. We know that in many of these cases, dogs tempted by this scent will be unable to arrest their fall as their momentum carries them over the wall. What we don't know is how often this has happened, nor do we know if anything else has enticed them to jump up there. We have a fairly complete explanation for what likely happened to Ben and Hendrix, but whether any mystery remains about the suicide dogs of Overtoun Bridge, only the dogs truly know.

Brian Dunning

© 2012 Skeptoid Media, Inc. Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Editors. "Why Have So Many Dogs Leapt to their Deaths from Overtoun Bridge?" Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Limited, 17 Oct. 2006. Web. 19 Jul. 2012. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-411038/Why-dogs-leapt-deaths-Overtoun-Bridge.html>

Editors. "The Overtoun or "Dog Suicide" Bridge." Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura, 31 Aug. 2010. Web. 15 Jul. 2012. <http://atlasobscura.com/place/overtoun-bridge>

Foulds, J., Farrell, M. "Dark Forces at Work?" Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter. 21 Oct. 2008, Newspaper.

Robberson, T. "Bridge Draws Dogs to Jump." Aiken Standard. 7 Aug. 2005, Newspaper: 7C.

Sands, D. "Suicide Dogs: The Overtoun Bridge Mystery." Publications by David Sands. The Animal Behavioral Clinic, 26 Feb. 2008. Web. 17 Jul. 2012. <http://www.problempets.co.uk/media/overtounbridge.asp>

Strusiewicz, C. "The 6 Creepiest Places on Earth." Cracked.com. Demand Media, Inc., 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 18 Jul. 2012. <http://www.cracked.com/article/181_the-6-creepiest-places-earth/>

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "The Suicide Dogs of Overtoun Bridge." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 24 Jul 2012. Web. 21 Nov 2014. <http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4320>

Discuss!

It'd be nice to do some hands-on research with decently trained canines. We could see if theres certain points on the bridge where dogs get more restless... oh well, I don't have the dogs, the time or the means.

Matt, Nevada
July 24, 2012 7:12am

Yipe..

If I Holiday in the UK Max the Wonder Dog stays home I think.

Dan Hillman, Seattle
July 24, 2012 8:11am

No one has mentioned prevention! Surely something could be done to prevent any more pups taking the leap.

Amanda Capper, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
July 24, 2012 12:51pm

Are we confident that there are no cats hiding somewhere on the bridge waiting for an opportunity...?

Rob Jase, New Britain, CT
July 24, 2012 1:13pm

Yes, Dan, it's called a leash . . . .

Kat, North Carolina
July 24, 2012 1:17pm

This story reminds me of the story that lemmings run off cliffs in mass suicide. Unfortunately that stems from a malicious explanation, instead of accident as here: researchers doing a documentary on lemmings deliberately herded them over a cliff to die, and then edited so only the "suicide" remained. How cruel, and worse still the lemmings massacre has spawned a false, persistent legend.

Michael, Denver, Colorado
July 24, 2012 1:21pm

Prevention: Use a leash.

Problem solved.

Russell, Louisiana
July 24, 2012 1:29pm

I lived close by and can assure you dogs would not commit suicide due to the lack of tucker. Dumbarton is a grave yard for people never mind dogs. My dog was a collie and never ever had a problem crossing this bridge it would appear Mr murdoch is on the make to sell his newspapers again. let me assure you Dumbarton has great people destroyed by self seeking politicians.

Gazza, brisbane
July 24, 2012 7:28pm

Pets find many ways to end up inactive.

I suppose I could claim a wombat or pig suicide point as every time I drive these roads there is an ex animal there.

Its bizarre that a bridge may be a death trap for a certain type of animal becomes known as a "dogs leap". Whats even worse is someone inventing the notion out of a monstrous population between one and three events.

Conspiracy maybe? The wild protons from research accelerators? Contrails?, Nazi wunderwaffen engine oil drips?

Mind fleas? (I'll claim that!).

Who knows where these ideas come from.

Great ep. I was thinking how I used to refer to my sister a "Pet Cemetery". Theres plenty of things in rural Oz that will off your pet. My son will attest to the @2m black snake that confronted him only last week. This is suburbia!

I suppose I was cruel in calling her that.

Mud (hayfevered and none too pleased), out to pasture, NSW, in many gardens, Oz
July 24, 2012 8:10pm

Good episode except for your malicious attack on that fearless, investigative journal The Daily Mail.

Just because it may claim urine cures cancer one week and causes it the next is no reason to denigrate its fine reporting on dog suicides!

Jim Ewan, Reading, England
July 25, 2012 3:41am

I hate to be 'that' guy, but nonplussed means highly perplexed. I doubt the dog was absolutely bewildered by a bridge until it caught a whiff of mink.

Eddie, UK
July 25, 2012 4:08am

Dogs like to jump over bridges. We had a fox terrier who did it twice - each time the wall on the side was very low and it was a more than ten meters drop.
Astonishing to all, he was never hurt too much.

Felix Hummel, Regensburg, Germany
July 25, 2012 8:36am

Brian a quick correction regarding your comment about the Daily Mail. Your comment implied it was not a serious or respected paper. In fact it is one of the most respected in the world winning Newspaper of the Year this year (voted for by its peers) and has many award winning columnists and writers. It also has the highest online readership. The reason it gets mocked a bit is due to the fact that it has a centre right leaning. It is also one of the only papers not caught up in the Leveson Inquiry. Maybe you could point this out in your listener feedback.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/mar/21/press-awards-2012-winners

Darren, Belfast
July 26, 2012 12:10pm

"Hendrix was nonplussed until they got to one end of the bridge..." Don't you really mean non-nonplussed, as in unconcerned, untroubled or not bothered?

Carlos D Mayo, Asheville NC
July 27, 2012 12:07am

Damn, if it were real how come a guide dog hasn't made press?

Mud, Sutho cricket ground, NSW, OZ
July 27, 2012 5:45am

Hi, i'm a new listener from Brazil, i found the podcast, after a recomendation of a friend. Greetings peeps! :)

Rodolfo Jofre, Abatiá, Paraná, Brazil
July 30, 2012 5:25am

Hi Brian, I was really interested in your story about the "suicide" bridge today, mainly because Overtoun House is where I was born. Talk about a small world.

Gordon Laurie, Onich
July 31, 2012 2:34am

Brian, you've done something bizarre here..This must be the one true skeptoid.. I haven't read a single bleat about deities, UfO's, your deserved comeuppance or dog whisperers.

Its hardly worth being the sites sycophant if everyone else seems to agree with you..

What happened?

Mud, about to drive off in his etheric 1994 station wagon, NSW
August 5, 2012 4:10am

Sadly, the Skeptiod report is another example, of someone who writes about an issue without knowing the facts.

Has the writer of this piece even visited Overtoun Bridge in person? They say 50 dogs is an exageration? Correct, how does over 100 dogs leaping sound? The bridge was built in 1895 and since that time dogs have leapt.

It is also stated there are no records held by the police or anyone else of dogs jumping from Overtoun Bridge! In Scotland dog death records are not kept by the police....

The article also gets inumorous facts wrong stating "James White" was the first Lord Overtoun. No James White was not a baron, and never was, his son John Campbell White was the first Lord Overtoun and was made a baron as an infuencial member of the Liberal party.

Sorry but this article is not worthy of reading Overtoun Bridge is not a myth but a fact...yes 100 dogs or more have leapt over its walls...I know of many people personally who's dogs leapt..3 dogs eh?? Im afraid that is the myyth of someone who knows not the facts, and it shows!

Vincent, Dumbarton
September 14, 2012 4:12pm

Vincent: Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence and wild posturing is not sufficient proof to support your claim.

You say over 100 dogs have leapt over the bridge? Where is your source? Who are these people whose dogs you claim committed suicide on the bridge? Where are the facts at?

Anonymous, Nowhere
September 21, 2012 2:44am

Sheldrake's explanation alone made the whole essay deeply satisfying.

danR, Vancouver/Canada
September 23, 2012 1:34pm

Hi
I saw the same TV documentary about the bridge - I remember that the parapet had castellations and gaps between them that sloped away. Any dog jumping up to a gap would have found its front legs slipping forward and couldn't have used them to stop itself

Simon Humby, Bournemouth, UK
October 16, 2012 12:02pm

In answer to Anonymous post: who obviously isn't confident enough in his argument to reveal his name: you state

"Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence and wild posturing is not sufficient proof to support your claim.

The evidence you seek may well be outlined in a forthcoming book which is currently being written about Overtoun, and from what Ive read it will clearly name countless owners, and their dogs which have leapt from the bridge.

When the book is released be sure to order a copy ANONYMOUS, as it will consign your "anecdotal evidence, & wild posturing, & where are the facts?" questions to the garbage bin.

Looks like this book, is going to lay to rest once and for all those factless debunkers, who's only weapon is their own lack of facts and knowledge about the real mystery of overtoun bridge.

A brief point about Simon Humby, Bournemouth posting. I live in Dumbarton and yes the bridge does have castellations which an animal might slide down. Though I do need to point out that many of the dogs apparently leapt over the walls where there were no castellations, and some have leapt clean over the castellations themselves without even touching them.

Vincent, Dumbarton
November 6, 2012 8:53am

do we get an ISBN number for the book..

Just the title has escaped the prev...

I know a property where every dog in the past 12 years has accidentally died bu jumping over things...

Yes I know snakes arent as dog profitable as bridge rumour.

Oh I know a property (only 5 acres) where 5 cattle two Llama have just up and died as well. That property has had three dogs die "mysteriously".

As a matter of fact... on the road out from sutherland I see at least 10 fox carcasses a spring summer... the road is just 1 km long.

Am I making an association? No, not ever.

Please note, no animal I have mortified" has even approached a castellation of any sort. All animals seem to have died withing a 100 +/_ yards on each property.

Even if Orion was rising on every night during those deaths it only says in Oz View jeez, its hot and free running animals die of things that are venomous or poisonous.

Dogs dont read signs that say jump here. Maybe its a case of chasing rats over their bridge..maybe chickens...maybe chased by lions or drunks?

The thing is nobody can discount a negative.

Vincent, repost please

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
December 17, 2012 11:03pm

In reply to Mud, NSW, OZ.

Thankyou for your comments above, interesting though I wish to make some general comments if I may.

I don't publish books and am in no position to provide you with an ISBN book number for a book about Overtoun. The book to the best of my knowledge is currently being written, not has been written.

You mention that you know of a property "where every dog in the past 12 years has accidentally died by jumping over things." It is hard to see how this has any relation to large numbers of dogs leaping some 50feet over a bridge wall. What is more none of the dogs at Overtoun died by accident. They deliberately leapt from the bridge and many of them could see the deadly drop below, but still leapt.

You also make reference to knowing of several other animals which have died e.g. Llamas, dogs, and foxes. It is quite normal for animals to die naturally and unexpectedly. You mention several foxes lying dead by the road. You don't have to live in Oz to see that, in Scotland I have seen many dead animals including foxes lying by the roadside, this is not unusual. In some areas the roads are littered with dead animals...quite common I assure you!

Your point that perhaps the dogs are chasing rats or chickens over the bridge. Yes many have speculated this, although to be fair there are rats living around bridges all over the world, this does not cause large numbers of dogs to leap from other bridges.

So it seems the mystery continues Mud.

Vincent, Dumbarton
December 21, 2012 2:42am

Vincent, it's a mystery because you want it to be.

So, some animals allegedly die falling or jumping from a bridge. Is that a mystery? No, it's called gravity and the dog's inability to see that above it, the sides of the bridge fall away. No mystery.

Now, if you could prove that every dog just jumped to its death, for no reason, after happily walking around, then maybe you'd have something.

If you put 100 dogs at one end of the bridge and let them lose one at a time, individually and they all, inexplicably, just jumped over to their deaths, then maybe you'd have something.

Thing is I would need at least 50% or so to even think something was going on out of the ordinary, and 100% for me to think that maybe something was up.

But, it seems to me, that folks, like yourself, would only require 5 of them to jump to see a mystery.

Even if a reasonable number of dogs jumped to their deaths, it would be unexplained, not a mystery.

passin thro, where my hat layeth
December 21, 2012 11:45am

Why not show those uppidy scientists a thing or two using their own so-called "scientific method" and put a video camera on a post running continuously and recording everything that happens, then compiling the date, time, and location on the bridge that all the future depressed dogs do themselves in.

Oh right - it might cost a few pounds. But do like a scientist, and go out and raise the cash - get a grant from the BBC, or Royal Society, or the Queen herself.

But then you may also prove that the whole thing is BS and there goes another stake into the heart of an already dying town.

Not quite as good, but cheaper, hang nets on either side and take a walk by the bridge every evening to rescue that day's depressed doggies. (Don't forget to record your findings)

Although most likely the experiment will fail because the dogs will see the camera (or nets) and choose not to commit suicide on record (for insurance purposes, you know).

Ken, New Hampshire
December 27, 2012 6:36am

In answer to passin thro, where my hat layeth comments above.

You say that Overtoun Bridge is no mystery? You say its a dogs inability to see above it that is the cause of the dogs jumping.

Passin thro, did you know many of the dogs peered over the bridge wall before leaping?

You also mention that you think that 5 dogs leaping from the same bridge is not unusal. Can you name a bridge where 5 dogs leapt over its walls in 6 months. I await to hear your answer.

Also Im afraid your statistics are inncorrect, there have not been only 5 dogs which leapt from this bridge but many more than that. This is well documented.

The fact that animal experts have examined the dog leaping incidents shows that they find the whole thing unusual and not normal dog behaviour.

But you of course being a dog expert seem to know better when you say there is nothing unusal going on there.

You end by stating if a reasonable number of dogs leapt that would be unexplained, not a mystery. So you don't think 5 dogs leaping in 6 months is a reasonable amount of leaping dogs?? What do you consider reasonable then?

Also you say such occurances would by "unexplained"but not a "mystery." Seems your grasp of English isnt too good passin thro, check your dictionary and thesarus..."Unexplained" means "mystery!"

Vincent, Dumbarton
December 28, 2012 2:39pm

"Also Im afraid your statistics are inncorrect, there have not been only 5 dogs which leapt from this bridge but many more than that. This is well documented."

Alright, please link to that documentation (and don't just say ”a book is being written about it" I can sit down right now and write a book about the unicorns of Greece, that does not mean that they exist).

"The fact that animal experts have examined the dog leaping incidents shows that they find the whole thing unusual and not normal dog behaviour."

Which animal experts? Link please. And how could the examine the incidents. Where they there when it happened?

Kex, Sweden
December 29, 2012 7:19pm

You are absolutely right: dogs do not "commit suicide". The notion is quite laughable as their instincts are geared toward survival and procreation, at all costs.
A dog may do something that appears inexplicable if given a fright or it is terrified or chasing after prey, but thoughts of suicide will not enter its head; it simply does not have the capacity to contemplate such an abstraction.

Keith Taylor, Johannesburg, South Africa
January 14, 2013 1:18am

Ken, New Hampshire I see you have added to the population of science ignorant skeptoid commenters. I am sure you will all meet up in one thread one day.

Mind you, is the research worth while? To date I have noticed many dogs who have "chosen to end it all" on the busy roads in suburbia and even leaping over structures to their death.

Its not that unusual.

I doubt it even enters a canines cognition.

I have noticed on the occasions that dogs do "exit in an unfortunate and hopefully brief manner" that they are entirely indifferent to the human made dog traps such as cars, fences, long drops and sadly, the poor veterinarian who has the horrid task of examining them and helping the on the way (should the dog be that unlucky).

Yes dogs are brilliant animals and more than us, they remain focussed on things we have no idea about.

Should the bridge be a trap, do not excascerbate the ignorant fringe by claiming
That a bridge makes dogs "suicide".

Losing a dog is bad enough. They are unbelievably great company. Hanging suicide on the owner is just a bit insensitive.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 22, 2013 9:40pm

Ted, thanx for that tidbit. The animal protection society and PETA should be descending on your home (or trailer) as I type.

Mud, Sin City, Oz
February 14, 2013 1:02am

In reply to KEX, SWEDEN.

You don't want to accept hard fact or evidence it seems Kex. There have been around 6 TV documentaries about Overtoun Bridge, shown around the world. Many of the dog owners who's pets leapt from the bridge were interviewed. Or perhaps for you they are just another Unicorn story? You really need to learn the difference between 'fact' and 'fiction' Kex! Dogs and their owners are 'fact' 'unicorns' are fantasy!

You also appear to know little about the various animal experts who have invistigated the bridge mystery. Try Dr David Sands, Britains leading cannine expert, or David Sexton, animal behaviourist sspca, or Cambridge Biologist Dr Rupert Sheldrake. There are others too!

Sorry Kex but it seems once again you know little of the facts or those who have researched the the issue!

Best of luck Kex, but it seems you should stick to 'unicorns!"

Vincent, Dumbarton
February 18, 2013 3:27am

According to what I've read of Dr David Sands research the reason for this seems to be that some dogs, all breeds with long snouts, are following the trail of a wild animal, possibly mink. They don't see that there is a drop on the other side of the parapet and fall off the bridge. It's usually the same side of the bridge (where presumably visibility isn't as good) and in clear weather (so the scent is fresh and hasn't been washed away). The reason isn't 'committing suicide' or any supernatural explanation. It's just dogs being dogs.

The real mystery is why people continue to walk their dogs over the bridge.

Darren, Liverpool, UK
February 18, 2013 4:30am

you're talking is not of a joke. i live somewhere that doesn't leap on existence any longer.

victoria lee, hamphshire, england
February 24, 2013 10:17pm

I'm sorry, Victoria, but...what?

Darren, Liverpool, UK
February 25, 2013 2:13am

Darren, you missed the depressive notes of canine existentialism in your upbringing?

Maybe a fine dose of Deepak quantum sniffing will wisen us all to these snippets that appear on skeptoid comments..

Yep, i didnt understand the comment either..

Mud, Pho;s garden of sandstone, Greenacres by the sea, NSW, Oz
February 25, 2013 2:22am

I guess Britian's weirdest animal mystery has baffled everyone! I believe that there is definately something creepy about this story. Interesting for sure. Im going on holiday to Scotland next month will be visiting this place for sure.

Winston, London
May 7, 2013 5:47am

"There have been around 6 TV documentaries about Overtoun Bridge, shown around the world. Many of the dog owners who's pets leapt from the bridge were interviewed."
Yes, and? There have been documentaries (and books) about just about everything, how is this supposed to prove anything?

"Or perhaps for you they are just another Unicorn story? You really need to learn the difference between 'fact' and 'fiction' Kex! Dogs and their owners are 'fact' 'unicorns' are fantasy!"
It was a metaphor. Try again.

"You also appear to know little about the various animal experts who have invistigated the bridge mystery. Try Dr David Sands, Britains leading cannine expert, or David Sexton, animal behaviourist sspca, or Cambridge Biologist Dr Rupert Sheldrake. There are others too!"

Most of us here know about Sheldrake -- basically, he's one of the biggest "celebrity pseudoscientists" out there at the moment. If the other two you named are of his calibre, I'm not impressed by either.

Why don't you instead tell us what these people said, and why it's convincing?

Øyvind, Sogndal
May 13, 2013 6:17am

Winston, dont take a dog whistle..

I think I'd like to have a beer with Oyvind if he is ever rich enough to come to Oz..

Mud, sin city
May 19, 2013 6:30am

Good sleuthing mate. Best learn English. You colonials need to differentiate affect and effect! Cheers

Clive, West End
July 8, 2013 8:30pm

Brian offered an In Fact.. clearly my suggestion of Pho's neighbours howler is on the books..

Even Brian can afford a fillet steak for a stunt dog..

Can you imagine the insurance premiums for having a stnt dog in a documentary like that>

Compare that to the relative premium free existence of the neighbourhood..

Actuaries..I love them!

Of course being in the insurance almost risk free bracket means I either sleep with them or, there is no risk with old codgers (read bronzed gods) like Mud!

Mud, sin city, Oz
August 6, 2013 5:35am

Dogs don't commit suicide. These dogs either jump the bridge, chasing a smell or sound, thinking they are just jumping a wall to land on level ground on the other side of it.....or they have help, by means of owners who want to get rid of them and/or want to have their 10 minutes of fame, being associated with the ridiculously characterized "suicide phenomenon," either comanding them to jump the wall or throwing them over it. After all, why would anyone walk their dog there at all, much less unleashed, knowing about the bridge's reputation??? The whole problem could be solved by installing a barrier chain-link fence or clear acrylic wall, atop the stone wall, preventing any human or pet from jumping or anyone tossing their baby (as happened once, also, I believe) or dog over the bridges's side. Seems so simple, so why not just do this, in order to prevent more death. The bridge could also be gated, and dogs could be banned on it. Why continue to allow this tragedy to continue to happen, regardless of true explanation? Are the tourist dollars really that important?

Dawna, Harold, KY
June 16, 2014 3:19pm

Wrong effect/affect. People are less likely to take you seriously if your grammar is incorrect.

TW, Cork
June 26, 2014 3:36am

Interestingly, here in Vancouver we recently had the city council discussing modifications to a location (near one of our sports arenas) where a low concrete backs up onto a two story drop. In other words, low (less than 1m) wall on one side, but the actuall wall was 7 or 8 m tall when seen from the other side. Several dogs have been injured and a few killed by jumping what they see as just a low wall. There has been no suggestion that 'suicide' is the cause.

The phenomenon mentioned in this post might very well be the same sort of situation,

Mark, Vancouver
July 15, 2014 10:14am

How about having a couple of sensitives do a reading of the bridge from the upper walkway and the lower area ?

Emmett, San Diego, Calif. USA
September 17, 2014 2:38pm

All due respect, Emmett, but what sort of evidence exists to show there is such a person as a "sensitive" who can do a "reading" of an inanimate object?

Unless you're talking about reading graffiti painted on the side of the bridge, there's no evidence of anything to read, or of anyone who could read it.

There's no shortage of people, sincere or otherwise, who purport to have some sort of magical senses, but there's zero evidence these folks are anything other than either deluded or lying. Arranging for some carnival act or deluded person to act like they're reading something would be a waste of everyone's time. And maybe a waste of money, since evidently professional psychics operate much like vending machines and don't produce anything unless paid for it.

Whoever owns the bridge should put screens up along the sides where the animals tend to fall off it and be done with it.

Bill Kowalski, Webster Groves, Missouri
September 19, 2014 10:12am

Your article is littered with assumption and a lot of cut and paste from the numerous articles previously written, in particular word for word lifts from the very Daily Mail whose journalism you question. However, I will correct you on one MAJOR point. You CLAIM that there were no such reports prior to the death of " Ben ", and that, effectively suggesting, therefore this is naught but a bandwagon. Sir, you are either simply wrong OR, in order to prove your bones as a Sceptic, and support your website, you are a liar. I was a police officer for many years and personally took four definite and one possible report on leaping dogs. I say one possible, because that dog was never produced. I TOOK these reports between 1978 and 1990. ALL prior to Ben. As a former policeman I am sceptical by nature, and believe scepticism is a protection we need, however, I also believe that the majority of sceptics online, think MORE of their sceptical image, than the veracity of the evidence they use to prove or disprove whatever they choose to question. I await your response and wonder if it will be as high handed as some you make?

Robert, Dunbartonshire
October 14, 2014 2:49am

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