September 11, 2015 | Posted in Discover These Doggies!!
It’s not unusual for dogs to be devoted to their “humans.” But only rarely does one take that devotion to the level of Bobby, a Skye Terrier who lived in Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 1800s. He became a legend worldwide.
They called him Greyfriars Bobby because Greyfriars was the name of the “kirkyard” or churchyard cemetery associated with his legend.
The story goes that a gardener named John Gray, his wife Jess and son John arrived in Edinburgh in the early 1850s. When he could no longer find work as a gardener, he eventually became a night watchman for the police force. He wanted a partner to keep him company at night and found a stray dog. An immediate bond formed and John named his new partner Bobby (those in the U.K. refer to a policeman as a Bobby).
The two became a familiar sight, wandering the cobblestone streets of Old Town Edinburgh and they quickly became inseparable friends.
John unfortunately developed tuberculosis and passed in 1858, when young Bobby was about three years old. John was buried in one of the areas he and Bobby had patrolled – Greyfriars Kirkyard. Leading the funeral procession from Greyfriars Church to the kirkyard was the faithful Skye Terrier. He sat near the fresh grave during the burial ceremony, but when the humans began to leave after the ceremony, Bobby refused to budge from the spot.
In fact, he spent the rest of his life (nearly 14 years) at his master’s side, sitting on or near the grave of the man he loved so dearly.
At first, the groundskeeper of Greyfriars Church tried to evict him by shooing him away. When this didn’t work, he gave up and built a shelter for the little dog near the grave.
The people of Edinburgh rallied behind sad little Bobby. When a law was passed requiring all dogs to be licensed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers (who was also Director of the Scottish SPCA) paid for Bobby’s license and a collar to hold it.
Bobby’s only concession to leaving the grave came briefly, once a day. A one o’clock cannon was fired each afternoon at Edinburgh Castle. The sound could be heard through much of Old Town. Bobby had come to associate that sound with meals he used to take with John Gray at Traill’s Dining Rooms. Bobby continued to arrive for lunch. William Dow, a cabinet maker in town, made sure at first that Bobby remembered his way to Traill’s. Word spread of Bobby’s daily journey and townspeople gathered to witness little Bobby leaving for his daily meal and then hurriedly returning to sit with his master in the cemetery.
Bobby himself passed away in early 1872, when he was 16 years old. He was given the honor of being buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard not far from John Gray. His headstone reads: “Greyfriars Bobby – died 14 January 1872 – aged 16 years. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”
A year later, a member of Edinburgh society, Lady Burdett-Coutts, paid for a fountain and statue to be erected near Greyfriars Church. A plaque reads: “A Tribute to the Affectionate Fidelity of Greyfriars Bobby. This faithful dog followed the remains of his master to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death in 1872.”
Bobby was the subject of several books and a 1961 film, “Greyfriars Bobby”. Walt Disney re-edited the 1961 film for two episodes of the “Wonderful World of Walt Disney.” In 2005, “The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby”, another film, was released.
Film star Jack Palance visited the graves of Bobby and John Gray when he was host of the classic television show “Believe it or Not”, focusing on their story.
This legendary dog truly does teach a lesson about love and devotion.