Greyfriars Bobby: How Scotland’s most famous dog became an historic landmark

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The Skye Terrier was the beloved pet of John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a nightwatchman. Both fiercely loyal to each other, John’s four-legged friend would help patrol the streets until the dog owner developed an incurable chill in October 1857.

After dying of tuberculosis, the small hound led the funeral procession where he was seen sitting on top of the freshly buried plot in Greyfriars Kirk.

Despite being chased off by the caretaker, as dogs were banned from the cemetery, Bobby returned the next day and would do so for the rest of his life.

No matter the weather conditions, Bobby would be next to John’s grave.

Feeling sorry for the heartbroken dog, it was soon decided that Bobby would be allowed to sit in Greyfriars Kirk, where news quickly spread about the loyal pet.

People would travel from far and wide to see him, who would only briefly leave for food at a nearby restaurant when the one o’clock gun salute from Edinburgh Castle sounded.

Sadly Bobby died on 14 January 1872 after Edinburgh Veterinary College concluded he had succumbed to cancer of the jaw.

He was buried just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave.

To prove how moved the people of Edinburgh were about Bobby’s story, he was awarded keys to the city.

The heart-warming story continues to be well known in Scotland, with visitors even able to take guided tours around commemorative sites dedicated to the Skye Terrier.

Many fans come to pay tribute to Bobby by viewing a life-sized bronze statue on top of a former drinking fountain.

The monument is also infamous as Edinburgh’s smallest listed building.

It was commissioned a year after the dog’s death by English philanthropist Lady Burdett-Coutts, widely known as “the richest heiress in England”.

As president of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA, who was also touched to hear about Bobby’s tale, the statue was erected at the junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row.

Some people say that if you rub his nose for good luck or that the statue will even glow.

However, due to the many times this good boy has been praised, visitors are now being asked to pat gently, as the dog has undergone two restorations.

After paying tribute to Scotland’s most famous dog, visitors can grab a pint at the pub opposite named “Bobby’s Bar”, before heading to the Museum of Edinburgh and see Bobby’s collar on display.

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