Overtoun Bridge is located near Dumbarton in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, that leads to Overtoun House. The bridge is known for the mysterious suicide attempts by dogs, which led the locals to name it as “The Dog Suicide Bridge.” In 1859, James White, who retired from his law career to enter his family chemical manufacturing business, acquired the Overtoun estate. James White died in 1884, and his son John moved into the estate following his mother’s death in 1891. In 1892 he bought the neighboring estate of Garshake. As the slope was too steep, vehicles could not reach the Overtoun mansion via the old eastern road. A new bridge was constructed, providing easy access to the Overtoun Mansion.
Ms. Mackinnon says she was walking on the Overtoun Bridge with her dog Bonnie when something mysterious happened. She said, “At first, she [Bonnie] froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet.” In another incident, Louise and David McPhail were out on a walk with their golden labrador Sophie, and the pet unexpectedly jumped from the bridge. Creepier as it gets, people have claimed that the dogs which survive the Jump have come back and leaped over again.
People of Dumbarton are quite superstitious, and they might have given the bridge that eerie status. An old tale that gives the ground to this unbelievable phenomenon is the “White lady of Overtoun.” It is said that the widow of John White haunts Overtoun’s house, and as she had been grieving for thirty years after the death of her husband. People believe that she entices the dogs to kill themselves deliberately. Marion Murray, a Dumbarton local, told, “Her ghost has been lurking around here ever since, she’s been sighted in windows and walking around the grounds.” Another story refers to a father who threw his child from the bridge because he thought that the child was anti-christ in 1994. The people say that the dogs jump off from the exact place from where the child was thrown.
Many have referred the spot as the “thin place.” A thin place is described as a place where there is no boundary between heavenly and earthly. However, there is some rationale given for these unusual behaviors of dogs. Canine psychologist David Sands completely disagreed with the dog suicide phenomena. He proposed that the nearby flora combined with the persistent scent of male mink urine in the area may well be responsible for luring dogs to leap off the bridge. A study found that the dogs are strongly attracted to mouse, squirrel, and mink scents.
Paul Owens, a philosophy professor, and a local ghost expert by profession, also studied the phenomenon in detail for years. He said, “After 11 years of research, I’m convinced it’s a ghost behind all of this”.
In hopes of curbing this strange and morbid phenomenon, the Dumbarton Council has installed warning signs across the Overtoun Bridge area and suggested to keep the dogs on leash. Whatever the reason may be, this mystery continues to perplex the brains of many.