Next month sees the celebration of Greyfriar Bobby, the famous Skye terrier whom spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner John Gray. The event, which takes place on the 14th January at Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, will see the commemoration of the 145th anniversary of Bobby’s passing. For those who don’t know Bobby’s story he became known locally for spending the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave before passing in 1872.
It was in 1850 that the story began, when gardener John Gray joined the Edinburgh Police Force as a night watchman. To accompany his long winter nights, he sought to take on Bobby as his very own ‘watchdog’. However, the arduous weather and conditions eventually led Gray to contracting tuberculosis, which he then died of in 1858. However, Bobby’s devotion to his owner didn’t stop there as he refused to the leave the grave under which Gray was buried. Bobby’s devoutness became widely known across Edinburgh as locals congregated daily at the entrance to the Kirkyard to see the little terrier leave the gravestone to have his midday meal, indicated by the sound of the one o’clock gun. Bobby would then follow local joiner William Dow to the same coffee house that he had previously frequented with John Gray, to eat his midday meal.
When the Dog Licensing Law of 1867 was introduced however, the owner of the coffee house refused to pay for Bobby’s license because he was not the dog’s rightful owner; instead, The Lord Provost William Chambers, who was also the director of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals decided to pay for the license, presenting Bobby with a brass inscription collar declaring his freedom to roam. When Bobby sadly passed, Baroness Burdett-Couts who was then President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA asked the city council to erect a statue of Bobby, which now sits opposite Greyfriars Kirkyard, to honour his memory. The Baroness herself went on to receive the freedom of Edinburgh due to the work she carried out with the SSPCA in preventing cruelty to horses pulling vehicles.
The day of commemoration will assemble at 12:30 at the City Chambers, before the Town Guard escorts the Lord Provost and guests to the Kirkyard where the one o’clock gun will sound. A ceremony will follow hosted by the Provost himself and wreaths will be placed by pupils from George Heriot School. Music from pipers and speeches from the One O’clock Gun Club will follow with the addition of Regimental Ponies coming to honour little Bobby. A post ceremony reception will then be held at the Beehive Inn. There will of course be some exciting, dog-related day time activities held throughout the day on Grassmarket, with further details to be announced soon.
Images Courtesy of Greater Grassmarket.