Mysterious Dog Behavior on the Overtoun Bridge

According to local researchers, more than 300 dogs jumped off the Overtoun Bridge in Dumbarton, Scotland.

The Overtoun Bridge & Manor

The Victorian bridge was built in 1895 and has long since been a popular spot for people to walk their dogs. In the 1950s, locals started referring to the bridge as the "Dog Suicide Bridge", and according to many dog owners, their dogs became "possessed" before jumping off the bridge into the ravine 50 feet below. Even dogs on leashes would break free before taking the leap. At least 50 dogs died from the fall.

In 2016, Lottie MacKinnon could sense something change in her dog Bonnie as they approached the bridge. "At first [Bonnie] froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet." Fortunately, Bonnie survived.

There are two theories to why the dogs are jumping off the bridge.

According to Paul Owens, a teacher of religion and philosophy in Glasgow, "After 11 years of research, I'm convinced it's a ghost that is behind all of this." Some local residents agree with this theory - especially those who grew up hearing stories about the "White Lady of Overtoun," the grieving widow of John White, who lived in the Overtoun manor near the bridge. "The lady lived alone in grief for more than 30 years after her husband died in 1908," said a Dumbarton resident. "Her ghost has been lurking around here ever since. She’s been sighted in windows and walking around the grounds."

According to Dr. David Sands, a renowned animal behaviorist, it is most likely the strong scents of mammals, particularly minks, living in the gorge below the bridge. The dog goes after the animal, not realizing the changes of the path from the ground to the bridge, and falls. From a dog's point of view, the "tapered edges might make it look like a safe, flat plane."

"The question is, why this bridge? Why Overtoun Bridge over all the other bridges that are here in this country? It could be that this [place] has this unique recipe of wildlife, of structure, of the number of dogs that are crossing it,” Dr. Sands said in an interview.

Whatever the case, scientists don't believe the dogs are intentionally trying to kill themselves.

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Jackie: Enraged the Nazis During WWII

Jackie, a part Dalmatian dog, made history in the early 1940s, shortly before the invasion of the Soviet Union, for causing a political incident between his owner, his owner's company and Nazi Germany.

Tor Borg, a Finnish businessman, and his dog Jackie

Documents about the incident were discovered some 60 years after it happened. According to the documents, an anonymous source notified Nazi authorities of Tor Borg and his dog Jackie who would raise a single paw whenever he heard the name "Hitler" - imitating the Nazi salute.

Borg was interrogated by the Germans. He admitted that Jackie occasionally did this when his wife, a known anti-Nazi German, called him "Hitler" (a nickname she'd given him because of the way he raised his paw) but insisted that neither his family nor his dog
had done anything "that could be seen as an insult against the German Reich". For three months, the Foreign Office investigated ways to bring Borg to trial, but no witnesses would come forward to allow charges to be pressed against him. Attempts were also made to economically sabotage his business - which is now a leading wholesale pharmaceutical company in Scandinavia. It is unclear whether Hitler had ever been aware or involved in the incident.

According to Klaus Hillenbrand (historian and journalist) on the absurdity of the Nazi effort regarding Jackie, "The dog affair tells us the Nazis were not only criminals and mass murderers, they were silly as hell. There are very few things you can laugh about because what they did was so monstrous. But there were two or three dozen people discussing the affair of the dog rather than preparing for the invasion of the Soviet Union. They were crazy."

Jackie died of natural causes and Borg died at the age of 60 in 1959.


Mister: Billie Holiday's Canine Soul-Mate

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan and nicknamed Lady Day) loved dogs and had many during her life, including a poodle, a Great Dane, Chihuahuas and a wire-haired terrier, but the one who really captured her heart was a boxer named Mister.

Billie Holiday and her dog Mister

Billie Holiday, considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, lived a hard life of childhood poverty, early sexual abuse, racism, difficult relationships with men, depression and addiction before dying at a young age of 44 from heart and liver problems. Despite her troubles, she did find joy in her music and with her dogs, "her only trusted friends."

Mister, Holiday's favorite dog, would accompany her to Harlem's most glamorous clubs where he would eat plates of thick steak and keep fans at a polite distance while she performed. She would knit sweaters for the pampered pooch, cook for him, cloak him in a mink coat and take him on midnight walks.

In May 1947, Holiday was arrested for possession of narcotics and was sentenced to prison in West Virginia, having to leave Mister behind. When she was released in March 1948, the two were reunited. She didn't think Mister would recognize her but, according to her autobiography, when she got off the train to greet him, "He not only recognized me, but in a flash he leaped at me, kicked my hat off, and knocked me flat on my can in the middle of that little station. Then he began lapping me and loving me like crazy." Unfortunately, a woman in the crowd thought the dog was attacking her and screamed for help, causing a crowd to gather, including reporters - messing up her plans to reenter society quietly.

I am not sure when Mister passed away.

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