A Shabby Dog Story: Greyfriars Bobby Found Out?
It is the universally inspiring story of a dog so loyal to its master that he refused to desert him, even in death.
Every year tens of thousands of believers flock to the Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh to see the monument to Bobby the Skye Terrier and the burial site of John Grey, the nightwatchman and master he guarded so faithfully until his own death 14 years later in 1872.
Hollywood filmed the heartwarming tale in the 1960s and and again in 2006 with Christopher Lee in The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby. Bobby has gone down in history as one of the world’s most famous dogs.
But now a writer claims to have exploded the myth of Bobby’s long vigil. The dog lived in the graveyard all right but there is little or no evidence to suggest he was mourning anyone. The whole saga is dismissed it as a hoax perpetrated by an unscrupulous journalist who made it all up.
Dr Jan Robeson, author of Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, says: “There is no doubt that Greyriars Bobby existed and that he spent a considerable period of time in the Greyfriars burial grounds as supported by numerous eyewitness accounts.
“What is less well known is that some Edinburgh people ‘in the know’ declared that the story of his faithful mourning was entirely bogus. Bobby was just a stray mongrel who had taken up residence at Greyfriars where he was fed by kind, dog-loving people until one day a journalist made up the story of his graveside vigil as a hoax.”
Dr Robeson says that when planning permission was sought to erect the now iconic monument to Bobby on Candelmaker Row beside the graveyard, Edinburgh Town Council were at first reminded to refuse on the grounds that it was nothing more than ‘a preposterous story’. They did, however, allow the project to proceed and the monument, originally a drinking water fountain for dogs, is the targets of every tourist camera in the city.
Greyfriars Bobby was even suspect to vandals recently. Protesting Donald Trump’s planned construction of a golf course and resort in Aberdeen, the hoodlums took to the statue and put a mask of Trump and his cotton-candy hair over the beloved dogs face.
Bobby’s supporters are not abandoning him. George Robinson of the heritage group the One O’Clock Gun Association said: “I don’t think this book will affect how people appreciate the story. It is all about maybes with this story and no-one really knows the truth. No-one can say that the dog didn’t have a connection with someone in the graveyard.”
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