Greyfriars Bobby is a world famous Scottish icon. The story of the loyal wee Skye terrier has been told in two Hollywood movies and numerous books.
Bobby’s owner, John Gray, was a night watchman in the Edinburgh City Police. After two years together John Gray died of tuberculosis in February 1858. Gray was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard near the Grassmarket in Edinburgh.
It is said that Bobby spent the next 14 years at his master’s graveside. He would pad out of the cemetery at lunchtime to be fed. Bobby became a local celebrity. In 1867 Bobby was in danger of being destroyed when a new regulation ordered that all dogs had to be licensed. Lord Provost Sir William Chambers paid to have Bobby’s license renewed.
Sir William was also Director for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and co-founder of the Chambers Dictionary. He gave Bobby a dog collar with a brass tag inscribed ‘Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licenced’.
Greyfriars Bobby finally died in 1872, He was laid to rest near his master John Gray in Greyfriars Kirkyard. A year later Lady Burdett-Coutts had a bronze statue of Bobby made and a water fountain (for humans and dogs) built.
Today Greyfriars Bobby is one of Edinburgh’s most-loved characters.