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The Story of Greyfrairs Bobby

When you think of Edinburgh, you think of Edinburgh Castle, a Medieval old town, or tourist attractions such as the Royal Mile. You may not think about local legends and stories that make Scotland’s history so unique.

One of those stories is Bobby the Skye Terrier, who lived in the 19th century. Believed to have been born on 4th May 1855, Bobby was a loyal dog who lived with his owner, John Gray, an Edinburgh City Police watchman.

But what makes Bobby so popular, and what does Greyfriars, the famous Old Town kirkyard, have to do with an ordinary Terrier?

Well, the story is one that is tinged with sadness, but is a heartwarming tale of love. When Bobby’s owner passed away, he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, in Old Town Edinburgh. From that moment on, Bobby would spend every day and every night lying at Gray’s grave, guarding the spot where he was buried, and forever staying at his side. A loyal story of man’s best friend was evident with Bobby the Terrier.

John Gray, image from Wikipedia.

Bobby became a local legend in Edinburgh, and in 1867, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers, paid for bobby’s licence and gave him a collar. That collar can now be seen in the Museum of Edinburgh.

A drawing of what is believed to be Bobby. Image from Wikipedia.

When Bobby passed away 14 years later, in 1872, still at the side of his master’s grave, he was buried just past the entrance to the kirkyard, and only a short walk away from John’s grave. Today, you can visit both graves.

Now, thanks to philanthropist Lady Burdett-Coutts, Bobby is still remembered. A year after his death, Coutts was so charmed by the story that she paid for a drinking fountain to be put on the corner of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row. The fountain has since been sealed up, due to hugging concerns, but you can still visit the fountain and give Bobby a rub on the nose for some luck. People still leave flowers and sticks at the fountain, to remember Bobby, and pay their respects.

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