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Do Dogs Commit Suicide?
In the past six months five dogs have fallen to their death off a bridge in Dumbarton, Scotland. This fact does not seem to be disputed. What is controversial is whether or not the dogs fell because they committed suicide. Or did they think they saw something and accidentally leapt? In the most recent case a woman claims that she was out walking her dog when it suddenly ran away from her "vaulted over the parapet and plunged 40ft to its death."

Some animal behaviorists are dismissing the notion that suicide was the cause of the dogs' deaths, arguing that dogs never commit suicide. Personally, I'm not sure what to think. I did once hear about a dog who was so despondent after its master died that it walked out to some train tracks and lay there until a train ran it over. However, I'll concede that this story may be an urban legend because I can't remember where I heard it. And I doubt that five dogs in a row would commit suicide in the same place. However, this bridge in Dumbarton does have a spooky history. In 1994 a guy threw his two-week-old son off of it, believing that the child was the Antichrist. So believers in the supernatural are having a field day with this case.
Categories: Animals, Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 07, 2005
Comments (96)
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I spotted this story on, and deemed it worthy enough to print out for my Weird File.

There are all sorts of possible explanations for the dogs' behavior, many totally rational and prosaic. I wonder if perhaps the dog suicides are being caused by some kind of subsonic or supersonic phenomenon that's centered on the bridge, that scrambles their little brains (humans couldn't hear it, outside of human range). It could be sounds that are filtering up out of the underground, due to some kind of weird seismic activity.

I've heard a story of a bull that would go nuts and act very aggressively because a nearby satellite dish was making supersonic noises that were driving him up the wall, could be something similar.
Posted by Barghest  on  Mon Mar 07, 2005  at  11:17 PM
The REAL question is not if dogs commit suicide but if they leave suicide NOTES.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:43 AM
All dogs are from the same area, so it looks to me they all belonged to the same sect. Dogs are re
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  03:02 AM
Hmmm, I saw this in the paper.

Not convinced that it's suicide.
Posted by Boo  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  05:00 AM
Both articles mention 5 dogs leaping to their deaths but actually only chronicle witnessing one incident. There are no pictures. Is it possible that there is some unusual arrangement of the terrain that, from a dogs point of view, it appears that there is solid ground on the other side of the parapet? I'm only speculating that maybe the drop is not apparent to the dog until it is too late. Perhaps there is some strange acoustic anomoly that makes it sound like there is something on the other side of the parapet that aroused the dog's curiosity. Perhaps it's silly to speculate about the cause of 5 apparent dog suicides before someone has confirmed the circumstances of all 5 incidents if there were indeed 5 incidents.
It wouldn't be the first time that something that has happened "more than once" gets reported as having happened 5 or a dozen or pick-a-number times and everyone gets wrapped up in trying to associate a cause when the phenomenon itself has never been confirmed.
Posted by Blondin  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  08:42 AM
Blondin, the paper (Scottish Daily Star, shamefully) ran a photo of the owner of the latest dog standing on the bridge looking mournful.

It's difficult to tell what the view of the terrain is like from the bridge, as they shot it from below, but it didn't look to me like there could be much of a possibility of the terrain being confusing.

Gosh, that was vague, wasn't it?

I'm trying to find the picture, though.
Posted by Boo  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  09:10 AM
I agree with Blondin. Are there really 4 other cases of dogs falling(or leaping)to their deaths that can be verified some way?
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  09:21 AM
Well, that's what I'm suspicious about.

Both printed and online, there has been absolutely no reference to the other people involved. Not a name, not whether they were local or visitors, nothing. And if they were all stray dogs (fairly unlikely) then how does anyone know? I mean, did there happen to be witnesses to all of them? Because the witnesses aren't mentioned either.
Did they find the bodies of the dogs under the bridge? Because that's no proof...
etc etc

It just seems a bit urban legendy to me, although six months is an awfully short time for an urban legend to spring up, if you see what I mean.
However, since the area is a lot less rural than it was, being almost a part of Glasgow these days, it will be a lot easier for 'friend of a friend' type stories to circulate.
Posted by Boo  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  09:31 AM
Oh c'mon, it's obvious that they were trying to catch the spirit of the baby that was thrown off. 😉 Why look for another explanation?
Posted by winona  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  10:24 AM
Don't be so superstitious, winona. The rational explanation is that this is obviously all the work of Satan. Satan was down there beneath the bridge, telling the dogs to jump.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  10:29 AM
Oh, c'mon, this isn't suicide; the dogs are just stupid, or clumsy.

However, if you're interested in this subject, a couple of years ago I read a book entitled "The Beast in Boudoir" (the author's name escapes me at the moment), about pets in 19th-century France, which details many legends and newspaper reports about suicidal dogs and cats, pets that willingly sacrificed themselves to save their owners (or sometimes strangers), dogs that sat by their late owners' graves mourning for decades, and so on. Pretty engrossing stuff.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  10:54 AM
I had a dog once that committed suicide. He ate a large amount of rat poison. Of course the rat poison was mixed in with a peanut butter like mixture so it would taste good to the rats. Does that still count?

Regardless, we sued the bastards that put it there.
Posted by Gentropy  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  11:05 AM
Gentropy, that wasn't suicide, it was assassination (unless you really believe the dog knew he was eating poison).
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  11:10 AM
When I drive past Roddy Parthemer's farm, his guinea fowl try and throw themselves beneath my wheels. I have to drive by VERY slowly. I think it's a brood-protection instinct. Drives me crazy.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:05 PM
Maybe someone posessed by the baby is throwing the dogs off?? Makes sense to me.
Posted by sbnature  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:08 PM
Well, I think we've located the cause of the suicides. It's Hairy. Or should I say 'He Who Drives Animals to Suicide'.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:14 PM
That's not funny. I had the same effect on the crowd when I was a Blues Musician. I'd say, "well, it's the blues". People'd say: "No, Hairy, you suck". I get no respect.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:20 PM
Hey- Maybe that's the cause... perhaps someone near the bridge is playing The Blues... by Blind Melon Bagpipes, perhaps. Or else somebody there in Scotland has my album...
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:25 PM
"Angus, let's go walkies with Geedub.", "But first, a wee bit-o-The Blues, by Skunk Willy and The Original Rhythm Slaves". "Ah, luver-ly... tarn it oop, lad!"
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:29 PM
blues played on bagpipes would make me suicidal
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:29 PM
There was a comedy skit on the old SNL TV show, which featured Doggy Downers for hyper canines, and Puppy Uppers for listless pooches. Mutt elevators, as it were.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:50 PM
What's wrong, pooch? "I doont know... it all seems soo pointless... I mean, what's it all aboot, Angus? I'm joost tired..." Ah, cheer up, pooch. Let's go for a walk, eh?
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:59 PM
Could this all have something to do with the prozac they reportedly put in the water, over there in the UK?

Instead of making the dogs mellow, it's turning a few of them suicidal. Nah... it's probably the bagpipe blues.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:09 PM
hmm... dolphins beached off Florida... dogs depressed in Scotland... suicidal guinea fowl in Pennsylvania... it all fits, now doesn't it? Raoul has been busy.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:18 PM
I have an brilliant idea for scientific reasearch or book - "Suicide - hidden force behind Evolution"
Posted by Loxx  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:23 PM
Is there a law against giving your dog prozac? If I had a dog I'd probably give him all my expired medication and then sell him on Ebay as possessed or something.

As far as bagpipe blues...I'll have to try and find some to go with my death polka collection. Of course who knows what side effects it will have on all the neurotic pets in my neighborhood.
Posted by Gentropy  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:24 PM
HAIRY LEGAL DISCLAIMER(read really fast): "HH does not approve of, or suggest a need for, at any time, giving animals drugs or herbal kibbles, or subjecting them to bagpipe blues" Dogs are people, too.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:34 PM
hey- wait. That's it... aren't bagpipes basically giant dog whistles? Haarreee Haaarrreee Good Lord... I'd jump, blues or not HAAARRREEEEE HAAARRREEEE. See?
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:37 PM
Perhaps some laddie should play bagpipe blues at the shores of Loch Ness, in the hope of getting Nessie to beach himself. Or through himself under your wheels, at least.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:39 PM
HAIRY LEGAL DISCLAIMER #2 (read even faster): "HH at no time means to infer that he approves of harm to Nessie, nor does he mean to suggest that Scottish music sucks" Plesiosaurs are people, too.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  01:42 PM
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