Greyfriars Bobby is the authentic story about a dog that became the most famous dog in Scottish history. Although this was more than 150 years ago, the story of this little Skye Terrier is still well known among the Scots.Bobby belonged to an Edinburgh night watchman, John Gray, also known as Auld Jock. For two years, Bobby followed his master everywhere. Then, in 1858, Auld Jock died of tuberculosis and was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard. Bobby wouldn’t abandon his master and spent his remaining 14 years of life right there, at his master’s grave. Dogs were not allowed inside the graveyard, and the caretaker tried to send Bobby away, but he would always return, even in foul weather, and refuse to leave his master’s grave. Local residents, touched by Bobby’s devotion, built him a shelter.
By hearing the one o’clock gun that was fired from Edinburgh Castle every day, Bobby would run to the restaurant where his master used to eat. People would recognize Bobby and feed him. Then Bobby would return to the graveyard. The locals took to him, and by word of mouth, the story of the faithful dog spread around. In 1867 Sir William Chambers, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, renewed Bobby’s licence which saved him from premature death, since there was a law decreeing that dogs without an owner should be killed. Bobby’s new collar read:
“Greyfriars Bobby – from the lord Provost, 1867, licensed”Bobby died on January 14th 1872 at the age of 16 and was buried near the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, close to John Gray’s grave.
But he wasn’t forgotten: The same year, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, an Edinburgh aristocrat, paid for a life-size statue of Bobby. It was placed near the entrance to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, in front of a pub called “Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar”.
In 1981, The Dog Aid Society of Scotland donated a granite stone for Bobby’s grave. The monument reads:
Died 14 January 1872
Aged 16 years
Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”
Bobby became a tourist attraction. People started to leave flowers, sticks and dog toys at Bobby’s grave. Visitors from all over the world would learn about the story and have their photo taken next to Bobby’s statue. There are books, videos and films about Bobby, some more accurate than others.
The loyalty of this little dog has become a legend. In a city full of history and culture like Edinburgh, it is stories like these that touch your heart.
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