Greyfriars Bobby – A Heartwarming Tale

Written by Glenn Rawson

Just a few days ago I stood on the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was trying to get a picture but I could not get an unimpeded view. Scores of people were queuing up to have their picture taken with this little non-descript statue and then to touch it. Little old ladies too short to reach it were actually attempting to jump and touch the statue for good luck. Visitors come from all over the world to see Edinburgh, and no matter for what the reason they came, many have to stop here as part of their itinerary. He is one of Edinburgh’s most famous citizens. Who is he? his name is Greyfriar’s Bobby—and he is a dog. This is the story.

“On 15th February 1858, in the city of Edinburgh, a man named John Gray died of tuberculosis. Gray was better known as Auld Jock, and on his death he was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard.

Bobby, a wee Skye Terrier, belonged to John, who had worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman, and the two were virtually inseparable for approximately two years.

Bobby led his master’s funeral procession to the grave at Greyfriars Cemetery, and later, when he tried to stay at the graveside, he was sent away by the caretaker. But the little dog returned and refused to leave, whatever the weather conditions. Despite the efforts of the keeper of the kirkyard, John’s family and the local people, Bobby refused to be enticed away from the grave for any length of time, and he touched the hearts of the local residents. Although dogs were not allowed in the graveyard, the people rallied round and built a shelter for Bobby and there he stayed, guarding Auld Jock.

For fourteen years Bobby lay on the grave, leaving only for food.

When the firing of the one o’clock gun sounded from Edinburgh Castle each day, Bobby would leave his post, and run to the eating house which he had frequented with Auld Jock. News of Bobby’s loyalty spread, and people would travel far and wide just to see him. Crowds would gather for the firing of the gun, to see Bobby run for his midday meal.

In 1867, the Lord Provost presented Bobby with a new collar, which is now on display, with a brass plate inscribed with the words: “Greyfriars Bobby – from the lord Provost, 1867, licensed” Bobby was well cared for by the people of Edinburgh, but he still remained loyal to his master, and he continued to stay faithfully guarding Auld Jock’s grave for all those years, until he died on January 14th 1872, aged 16.

Bobby’s grave is also in Greyfriars Kirkyard, just 75 yards from his master’s grave. He has a red granite headstone, which was unveiled by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester CCVO,
in 1981. The inscription reads: “Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years
Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all….

Edinburgh is so rich in culture and history, but surely nothing touches the heart like the loyalty and devotion of this wee Skye Terrier. He is remembered to this day!”

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