“You’re a stranger in town. In a strange town with a mystery, asking strange questions. And it all ends in disaster.”
“For me?” I said. “It ends in disaster for me?”
“No,” he said. “For us all.”
* * *
In Scotland, there is a bridge from which fifty dogs have inexplicably leapt to their deaths. This isn’t a joke. For sixty years, certain dogs crossing this bridge have leapt over the tall stone parapets and crashed upon the shallow, rocky burn fifteen metres below. In one reported case, a dog survived the fall only to climb back up and jump again.
The place is called Overtoun Bridge, which adjoins a large, 19th century country estate outside the small west Scotland town of Dumbarton. Dogs have been killing themselves from Overtoun Bridge since the 1950s, but the phenomenon only received widespread media attention in 2005, when five dogs jumped from the bridge within the same six-month period. One of those dogs was Ben, a collie who belonged to Dumbarton local Donna Cooper. Ben jumped from the bridge before Cooper, her husband, and their toddler son. The fall didn’t kill Ben, but injured him so badly that Cooper had no choice but to put him down. For years after the incident, Cooper says, her son insisted on asking whether Ben’s broken bones had been fixed in heaven.
The notion of a dog who wants to commit suicide might be more immediately disturbing if it didn’t seem so obviously out of character, for any dog. Dogs love life so much it’s ridiculous. Dogs are so happy to be alive in general, and explode with happiness at the simplest of pleasures. Dogs express love without shame, and in massive quantities. I don’t know how something that experiences life so innocently and happily can also think that their life is so painful and irreparable that suicide is the only option. It’s like if a baby wanted to kill itself.
Did these dogs really feel, deep down, that all the love in the world was not enough? How fascinating and complex their lives must have been – they would lend themselves to obsessive study, like how the narrators of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides obsessed over that novel’s suicide-starved subjects. The dogs of Dumbarton are the Lisbon sisters of dogs.
But, okay: it’s pretty hard to take seriously the idea that dogs ever want to kill themselves. Dogs don’t hate themselves. What reason would a dog ever have? I don’t believe that dogs look over the edge of Overtoun Bridge and decide that they want to let go.
And yet they do jump.
What is going on at Overtoun Bridge? The most credible theory belongs to Dr David Sands. Sands, an expert in animal behaviour, discovered claw marks of European mink on the mossy ground underneath the bridge. In a controlled test, he proved that a majority of dogs would react excitedly to the aroma of mink and pursue it. With this, some of the pieces fall into place: most of the dogs that jumped from Overtoun were long-nosed breeds, and since mink is rare in Scotland, its smell would be unfamiliar to Scottish dog noses. So mink hang underneath the bridge at night, pee and roll around on the ground, and leave behind a stench that entices dogs to their deaths in the morning. Which makes the whole thing seem kind of worse: in their final seconds, the dogs that jump do not face their death with serenity but fast-dawning horror. If true, this would have to make mink one of the shittier members of the animal kingdom.
Perhaps in the dog community, the dogs of Dumbarton tell tales to one another of this mystical and foreign smell that is found only on the Overtoun Bridge. A magical smell: an exotic and otherworldly aroma that excites and arouses the canine nostril as the suggestion of Shangri-La or the Fountain of Youth so entices the human brain. But the dogs who search out this potent new experience are overwhelmed and destroyed by its dark power, comparable to the opening of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or auto-erotic asphyxiation.
If this is true, the dogs spreading such a fable are also real dicks.
Some observers of the Overtoun Bridge mystery find the mink theory inconclusive. Another popular explanation is that paranormal forces are at play. Both Overtoun Bridge and the surrounding estate have been reported as haunted. In 2005, the Scottish Society for Psychical Research sent teams to investigate the bridge. They reported ghosts, ghost children, ghost children grasping at the legs of those crossing the bridge, a Victorian ghost woman in a white shawl, a Victorian ghost woman in a grey shawl, and an unhappy ghost man.
No reported sightings of ghost dogs, strangely enough, but then there’s more to Overtoun Bridge than the dogs. In 1994, Kevin Moy, a Dumbarton local, threw his two-week-old son Eoghan from the bridge, killing him. Moy then tried to jump from the bridge himself but was restrained by his wife, also present. Moy later claimed that he believed himself to be the Antichrist, and his infant son Satan. Moy has languished in an asylum ever since.
Whatever you believe about Overtoun Bridge, if you believe any of it, it is an undeniably strange place. The bridge has a long and tragic legacy, which visits death and sadness upon those who walk it.
“What brings you to Dumbarton?” the bed and breakfast owner asked me, as she handed me the keys to my room. “Just visiting?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m really excited.”
* * *
“It’s never this warm here,” she continued. “It’s usually raining all of the time.”
It was hot that day in Dumbarton, and the rain would never come. These were the early days of July, and in this kind of heat wave, hair sticks in strands to the forehead and those who stay too long in the morning sun shuffle around nauseous in the afternoon.
Dumbarton, population 20,000, sits upon the north bank of Scotland’s River Clyde. This was once a strategic military location. In the Dark and Middle Ages, Dumbarton was the capital of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, ruled by the ancient Britons. The kingdom’s stronghold, Dumbarton Castle, lorded over the area from Dumbarton Rock, high atop sea level. Kings, warriors and Vikings fought and died here. No less a figure than Merlin, the legendary wizard, is said to have supped at Dumbarton Castle.
When I arrived in Dumbarton, the local authorities were seeking a man who had shot a seagull out of the sky with a catapult. The seagull died from its injuries. The man was never found. His actions, while indefensible, are understandable. Dumbarton, seagulls circle the town, perch atop the spires of Baronial municipal buildings and shriek in peals of mocking laughter. One gull took a giant egg yolk of a shit on my bathroom window. The seagulls of Dumbarton are no joke.
FIVE HORRIBLE THINGS SAID ABOUT DUMBARTON
- “Dumbarton is shite. It is shite.” – Dumbarton local, to the author
- “Aye, it is shite.” – second Dumbarton local, concurring with the above
- “One of the saddest and most depressing places” – actress Minnie Driver
- “DUMPBARTON!” – commenter hazelkaye, on the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter website
- “‘Dumbarton’ is Gaelic for ‘dumb town’” – the author
Dumbarton is a picture of economic decline. Once a major industry town, each of its banner industries – glassmaking, shipbuilding, whisky production – collapsed decades or even centuries ago, and were replaced with nothing. The buildings that stand the tallest in Dumbarton’s skyline are also the ones that have been gutted from the inside, and linger condemned in overgrown fields sealed off with gnarled chain fences. Dumbarton’s extinct shipbuilding yards are still here too, a reminder of what the town once was and now is not.
Dumbarton’s most famous shipbuilding company was certainly William Denny and Brothers. William Denny built the Cutty Sark, sold ships to the Confederacy in the American Civil War, and developed the first commercial ship-model-testing water tank in the world (the “Denny Tank”.) The Denny Tank workers liked to indulge in something they called “tank pranks”. For example, one worker might nail his colleague’s spare pair of boots to the floor, or simply push that colleague into the tank itself; hence, “tank pranks”. Dumbarton’s shipbuilding industry disintegrated in the 1960s, and the laughter at a good tank prank well executed never carried through the town again.
The Denny offices are preserved as a museum. The manager there showed me around the place a bit during my visit. After we examined the famous Denny Tank - home of the tank prank - she pointed upstairs. “Up there,” she said, “there are some pictures of Dumbarton when it was a town.”
* * *
There are only a few pubs in Dumbarton, but then there are only a few of anything in the town, except seagulls and dog deaths. The Glencairn Lounge, whose signs outside advertise “Good Food” and “Best Bar Food”, is located perpendicular to a bridge that crosses the River Leven and is not known for any suicides. The bar at the Glencairn is popular, but not large, more of a brightly-lit drinking annex off of the dining area. It’s full of guys, and pretty much only guys: greying Scottish retirees in shorts and polo shirts with little embroidered animals on them.
The bar owner, an avuncular powerhouse named Tommy, introduced himself to me with a strong handshake. As I ordered a drink, Tommy asked me whether I was by myself. When he learned that I was, he sat down with me a booth, talked with me and drank from two separate glasses of amber coloured spirits. He asked me whether I’d come in for dinner. I said I wasn’t sure. He told me the kitchen closed at 7:30 – and it was 7:30 – but said not to worry, that he’d sort it out for me.
“What are you doing in Dumbarton?” he asked, inevitably.
I told Tommy that I was writing an article about Dumbarton’s Overtoun Bridge. Perhaps he already knew about the bridge, and its story? He didn’t – though he’d heard of Overtoun House, the estate; in fact, he’d been born there. I cautiously laid out the legend surrounding the bridge, and told him that dogs – about fifty dogs – had been committing suicide from the bridge since the 1950s.
He glanced at me. “Oh really.”
He excused himself to go and speak with the kitchen about my late dinner order. Alone, I sipped quietly from my very un-Scottish pint of Guinness.
Moments later, Tommy returned from the kitchen excitedly and stopped at my table. “I told my wife there’s this boy here interested in Overtoun Bridge - and she said, ‘Oh, with all the dogs?’ She said, ‘Oh, everyone has heard of that!’” He laughed. “I thought you were off your fucking head! Fucking dogs!”
After I ate, Tommy brought me over to meet the regulars, who all stood tightly packed at the bar. He grabbed my shoulder and directed me to one man who he claimed knew all about Overtoun Bridge. “Callum, help this boy,” Tommy barked at him. “This is Callum. He is – Callum is not the brightest spark, but he is educated. He is university educated.”
Callum leaned over the bar and eyed me with the suspicion due a reporter. “What d’you want to know about it, then?” We talked for a while over cheap pints of Tennent’s, a local favourite. Callum worked for the local council in the environmental services division. The people who worked there, I gathered, were the ones responsible for the post-suicide clean-ups.
“What’s your angle?” Callum asked me. He alluded to “the tragedy”, which I understood immediately to be the case of Kevin Moy and the murder of his infant son. “I wouldn’t write about that if I were you,” he warned. “I wouldn’t try to link that.”
I asked Callum whether people came to the town often asking around about the bridge. “Some have,” he said. “Not often. There was an American.” He didn’t elaborate.
Callum left the bar soon after. When he had gone, Tommy, sitting on the edge of the bar with his two drinks, leaned over and told me, “You talk to that cunt long enough, you’ll want to jump off a fucking bridge.”
The whole bar laughed. One of the guys beside me, a retired Dumbarton vice-principal, smiled broadly and explained for my benefit: “Tommy’s making fun of him. It’s all in good fun.”
His name was Gary, and like many of the others, he was amused by my investigation into Overtoun Bridge. “See, look at this,” he said, when he heard the reason why I was in Dumbarton. “You’re a stranger in town. In a strange town with a mystery, asking strange questions. And it all ends in disaster.”
“For me?” I said. “It ends in disaster for me?”
“No,” he said. “For us all.”
The summer night wore on, and the sky held blue and warm until ten o’clock. More regulars filtered in through the narrow doorway. They all knew each other, and I would come to know them as well. At the Glencairn Lounge, they formed a convivial brotherhood of old Scottish men who appreciated cheap regional lager drunk in an unpretentious setting.
THEORIES OFFERED BY GLENCAIRN LOUNGE PATRONS FOR WHY DOGS JUMP TO THEIR DEATH FROM OVERTOUN BRIDGE
- “Dogs do stupid things.”
- “I don’t know.”
When asked directly about my interest in the mystery of Overtoun Bridge, I punted and said it was just an interesting, weird local legend, like that of, say, the Loch Ness Monster.
“No,” Tommy said soberly. “That’s not a legend.”
One guy who arrived late, Jimmy, was more interested in talking with me about Overtoun House, where Tommy, and many others, had been born when that building was briefly a maternity hospital. “Then the cult moved in,” Jimmy told me. “It’s a cult. They bought the house. About ten, fifteen years ago they moved in. They’re Americans. They’re fucking – they’re fucking strange.”
Tommy moved off the subject of Overtoun Bridge and instead began questioning me about anything else.
“Hey, boy. Boy,” Tommy shouted at me. “Do you like baseball?” He mimed the swing of a baseball bat. I said sure. “Do you like basketball?” He mimed the dunk of a basketball. Sure, I said again.
“Do you like soccer?”
I thought this was a trap, having been chastened on this semantic distinction myself in the past. “I believe,” I said, “in the UK, it’s called football.”
Cheers went up from the bar. Tommy reached over and shook my hand vigorously, then high-fived me. We drank some more – at this point, Tommy was giving drinks away.
In the men’s toilets at the Glencairn, a poster above the urinal warned that suicidal men often hide their suicidal ideation and/or depression behind laughter. “If you can read between the lines,” suggested the poster, “you can save lives.”
Tommy was joined at the bar later that night by his wife Carla, who sat on the bar stool beside him and sipped Diet Cokes. Tommy told me that he and Carla were headed into Glasgow the next night to see Kenny Rogers in concert. I asked Tommy if he liked Kenny Rogers, which would seem a silly question, but when Carla’s head was turned, Tommy pointed and mouthed, “Her. Her.” This discussion of Kenny Rogers devolved into a group sing-a-long of ‘The Gambler’, as backed by a YouTube video of the song itself translated through the external speakers of Carla’s iPhone.
“I want you to come back and tell me what you saw at the bridge,” Tommy said. The singing had finished when everyone realised they didn’t know the lyrics to ‘The Gambler’ beyond the chorus. “You should come back.”
I said I would. I said of course I would.
* * *
If the people of Dumbarton aren’t familiar with the dogs of Overtoun Bridge – though, as Carla insisted, everybody knows about that – they definitely know about Overtoun House. In the course of the 20th century, Overtoun House had been a maternity hospital and a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. More recently, scenes from the film adaptation of Cloud Atlas were filmed at the house, and if Jimmy from the pub is to be trusted, it is now the base of operations for an American cult.
Overtoun House was built between 1859 and 1862 for James White, a wealthy Glasgow industrialist. The site on which it stands overlooks Dumbarton from an isolated plot in the Lang Craigs woods. The house is designed in the Scotch Baronial style – White’s choice – all medieval and gothic arches, festooned with towers and spires, and walls built of dark stone.
White commissioned a Glasgow architect, James Smith, to design his mansion. Smith was a reputable architect, well known, but his daughter was infamous. Madeleine Smith was the femme fatale – alleged femme fatale – at the centre of 19th century Scotland’s most sensational murder trial. A young socialite, Madeleine Smith stood accused of poisoning her French lover, an apprentice nurseryman, with arsenic, a charge that her jury declared “not proven.”
It would almost be too incredible if the dog suicide bridge had been designed by the father of 19th century Scotland’s most famous alleged murderess – what primordial evil courses through his blood and sweat! – but, unfortunately, the bridge was designed years later, and by somebody else. Smith died before Overtoun House was completed, and one H E Milner of Westminster was hired to design the bridge. If H E Milner had any allegiance to the forces of darkness, it is undocumented.
Upon his death, James White gave Overtoun House to his son, John Campbell White, who would later assume the title Lord Overtoun. Lord Overtoun, like his father, was a chemical manufacturer, and the chemical works of Scotland were not fun places for anybody. Overtoun’s workers were subject to long hours, low pay and substandard conditions. Moreover, in several reported cases, the fumes from the chrome these workers handled burned through their nasal cartilage. The workers took to wearing grotesque facial masks, like that of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, which ultimately afforded little protection.
Overtoun was assailed repeatedly in the newspapers for allowing such practices, and for his hypocrisy in doing so while preaching religious and liberal virtues. Overtoun did relent slightly. He died in 1908 without an heir, and left Overtoun House to the people of Dumbarton, but this didn’t bring anybody’s nose back.
Under the stewardship of the local council, Overtoun House changed functions regularly, and, due to its high upkeep, faced frequent closure. It has been leased by three different Christian groups, the last of which is the current occupant and the “cult” to which Jimmy referred.
Since 2001, Overtoun House has been the home of the Christian Centre for Hope and Healing, an organisation run by Texas pastor Bob Hill. The centre offers residential care for expectant teenage mothers, short-term care for mothers in crisis, counselling, and family, leadership and life training.
And sometimes, distraught men and women bang upon the door of the Christian Centre for Hope and Healing, pleading for help with their dog who has just leapt from the nearby bridge into the abyss. But those dogs are with God now.
* * *
Later in the week I returned to the Glencairn Lounge. I had made the trip to Overtoun Bridge the day before. True to my word, I had come back to tell Tommy what I had seen. I didn’t think of it as fulfilling an obligation. I really wanted to tell him.
I ordered a Tennent’s at the bar, like old times, but saw nobody I recognised: not Tommy, not the bar staff, and none of the regulars. The customers that day, all unfamiliar, regarded me with cold suspicion. I left immediately after finishing my drink. I never saw Tommy again.
I found another place further down the street. This pub was larger, and emptier, with slot machines stacked against load-bearing columns, and laminated menus supplied by the head office. I sat at the bar and ordered a second Tennent’s. The bartender, a girl with a pinched face and red hair bound tightly behind her head, was the first person I’d seen in Dumbarton younger than me.
Around the corner of the bar sat two middle-aged men, backlit through the front windows by the stark sunlight. The bigger of the two was built like a mountain, if a mountain had long, stringy hair that trickled down the rocks, and also yelled a lot. Few men eclipse the social shadow of a man like that, and the one sitting beside him certainly didn’t: he was thin, balding, and spoke up mostly to apologise for his larger buddy’s more offensive pronouncements.
Both were perplexed and agitated by the fact that I’d travelled up from London to visit Dumbarton – and only Dumbarton. The big one scrunched up his face. “Can I tell you something? You are fucking sad. You are fucking sad." He shook his head. “Don’t come north just to come to Dumbarton. Dumbarton is shite. It is shite.”
“Aye, it is shite,” his friend agreed. “You came from London? You’re not English, though, are you? The English are fucking rude. They are fucking ignorant.”
“They are,” the other confirmed. “I went to a pub in London, this is about 1984, and I’m up at the bar and I say hi – just ‘hi’ – to the lad next to me, and he just walks right away; doesn’t say a thing.”
“Aye, they are fucking ignorant, the English. They are fucking rude. The fucking Blitz happened to them, and that is why.” The man giggled.
“Watch it, now, I’m English,” the bartender told the louder of the two. She shot me a glance. “I fucking hate London, though.”
The mountain snorted. “London. They wouldn’t talk to you in a pub there. You may not like this” – and he pointed to me and back to him, and back to me – “but it is happening.”
“Leave the poor lad alone, now,” the bartender said. The same man asked where I was staying. I told him the name of the bed and breakfast. When he seemed to have difficulty running that name through his memory, I clarified that it was on Glasgow Street, if that helped him at all.
“Hey,” he shouted at the bartender. “Why don’t you go stay on Glasgow Street tonight? Yeah? Go home with this one. He ain’t bad looking.”
“Why don’t you go stay on Glasgow Street?” she snarked back. He snorted. I drank my beer and tried not to play favourites.
“What d’you do for a job, then?” the bartender asked me later, while pouring a drink.
“I’m a writer.”
“A writer?” She walked to the other end of the bar and never came back.
The larger man hissed something at me. “Tell her you’re a murrrmurrneer.”
“Tell her I’m…” I had no idea what he’d said. “A… mountaineer?”
“A BILLIONAIRE! A BILLIONAIRE! NOT A FUCKING MOUNTAINEER! JESUS CHRIST!”
He excused himself to the bathroom (“Fucking need a piss”). In his absence, I asked the quieter one if he knew about Overtoun Bridge.
“Aye, where the dogs…” He made a diving motion with his hand.
“What do you think that’s about?”
“Dogs,” he said, “dogs, they… Dogs smell a wee thing and, ooh, then they’re off, aye? Off they go, yeah.”
“That’s bullshit.” The mountain man yanked up his fly with some difficulty on his return from the toilet.
“You know, uh, my first…” He paused to think. “…woman. My first woman, she wanted a dog. And she, yeah, I, um… Dog… dogs die, aye? That happens. A dog, you know, a dog – a dog dying – it’s a very small thing. It’s such a small thing.”
* * *
The air around Overtoun House is thick and unpleasant, dense with flies and midges. The sky, even on a summer morning, is overcast and grey. The estate is a 45-minute walk uphill from the centre of Dumbarton: up a narrow, unpaved dirt trail bordered by acres of sparse farmland.
The entrance to Overtoun House is clearly marked and announced with paved roads, but it’s still a walk through a long, gloomy glade to the house and bridge themselves. I didn’t see a single person on the walk to Overtoun, but as I came down the entrance, treading gravel, a pick-up truck passed me by, slowed down, and then disappeared down the road to who knows where.
Architecturally, Overtoun House is grand, tall and gothic, standing completely alone in the clearing. There were a few cars parked outside, near a picnic table and garbage bin overflowing with trash. The front door was closed and locked.
If you stood by the front door of Overtoun House, you might not even notice the bridge. It is level with the grounds of the house, so all you see is the same paved road leading deeper into the woods. Only viewing the bridge from its side reveals the scale of the stone archway and the chasm it spans. The stone, while sturdy, is worn and penetrated by plants growing through the cracks, and stained with seagull shit. Even when standing on the bridge, it’s difficult to make out what’s at the bottom of the gorge – the foliage grows so thick around it – but from the rush of the air you can sense the enormity of the drop.
I walked across the bridge, then turned back and walked over it a couple of times. I felt the weight of the old stone underneath my hand. I stepped into each of the parapets and leaned over the edge. There were no sounds, no smells, and no ghosts. Everything was totally still.
“I’m going to Scotland,” I said to my friend, one week earlier, “this small town in Scotland, because of this bridge there that is famous for all the dogs that have mysteriously jumped off of it. To their deaths. I’m going to… write about it, probably.”
She looked unimpressed. “I hope you find what you’re looking for,” she said dryly.
When you get right down to it, I had travelled 420 miles to stand on a bridge and then turn around and go back home. I mean, it’s not like I expected anything else to happen at the bridge. I don’t believe in ghost children who grasp at my ankles, and science had already provided a reasonable explanation for the dogs’ behaviour. If you’re like me, then there wasn’t any more mystery to it, really. I went to Overtoun Bridge, I’m pretty sure, because I really just felt sorry for all those dogs. I really did. Which I think is just as crazy as any other part of this whole saga.
Suicide is hard to talk about. Dogs committing suicide is harder to talk about because it’s preposterous. These dogs didn’t actually mean to kill themselves. But my heart bleeds for them as if they did, the same way it does for anyone who’s ever wanted to die.
Again, I think it's clear that these dogs did not mean to commit suicide. I know they did not look at this bridge and see an opportunity for death. I know they never entertained thoughts of killing themselves and were excited, because they were considering something so transgressive. Since they never felt like that, they never grew sadder, and sadder, until the idea of committing suicide no longer seemed thrilling and dangerous but just something they should have done already. I know they didn’t think about jumping off of a bridge so often that they couldn’t cross a bridge without having those thoughts. I know that these dogs were capable of looking at a moving car, a pencil sharpener, a window, a belt, or a broken plate and without thinking that here was the thing that could maybe finally kill them.
But they killed themselves anyway. Isn’t it weird how they all killed themselves without ever having those thoughts, and I did have those thoughts, for a long time, and came all the way to this bridge and nothing happened?
* * *
“Hey. Hey.” Tommy shouted at me from the corner of the bar, late into the night. “These dogs… so you are the writer. You tell me. Why do these dogs jump off the bridge?”
“I don’t know,” I said. Then I added, thinking philosophically, what I believed to be the truth. “I don’t think it matters.”
“Aye.” He nodded, almost delighted, as if he had confirmed what he suspected about me all along. “You don’t give a fuck.”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “No. I do.”
ONE LAST THING
A dog walked out of the woods.
There’s no way to say that without it sounding like a straight-up lie, but it happened. A dog walked out of the woods: out from an unmarked path off the main road, halfway between the bridge and where I was sitting on the bench. The dog was a terrier of some kind, at least a few years old, with patchy brown fur, and panting softly. A woman followed behind the dog, holding his leash loosely. She was forty-something, toned and severe. She looked like the kind of woman who would punch me in the face if I dived from the bench to tackle the dog before he could reach the death bridge.
If the dog touched the bridge at all. The dog had emerged from the woods at a literal crossroads, with the bridge to his left and, on his right, a path into the unknown. The bridge: pregnant with misery, circled by ghosts – ghosts of pets, ghosts of women and toddlers crying out in sudden terror, the ghost of the Antichrist, of a purported Satan, the ghosts of a murderess and her father, and of mutilated and weeping chemical workers.
The bridge could kill this dog, and the dog had no idea. In this moment, he was happy and fine. If he stepped onto that bridge, all that would change. Something else, something wrong, would take hold of his brain and replace all the happiness he had with an intense and uncontrollable drive towards his own destruction.
The dog was seconds away from touching the bridge. Mere seconds, mere seconds, which is all the time it would take for him to go from being so happy to never being able to bring his life back.
Everything changes so quickly.