Dogs sadly don’t live as long as humans do, but some pets live on for decades or even centuries as folk legends.
One of the most famous of these statues in the world is the statue of Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh, Scotland. The famous statue memorializes a loyal Skye Terrier dog who has been the subject of legends for more than a century.
The dog’s statue in Edinburgh’s Old Town is a popular landmark with both locals and tourists, who often rub Bobby’s nose for good luck — which is why the snout looks more polished than the rest of the statue.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of Bobby’s death — and local Scots are memorializing their most famous dog.
The story of Greyfriars Bobby
If you’ve never visited Edinburgh, you might be unfamiliar with Greyfriars Bobby. Who was he, and what did he do to deserve such a notable statue?
Well, Bobby’s claim to fame was simply being a very loyal dog: according to legend, he waited by his owner’s grave for 14 years after he died.
While the story’s accuracy is sometimes questioned by historians, the most famous telling says that Bobby was the dog of a nightwatchman named John Gray.
When Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858, Bobby was heartbroken — and spent the rest of his life loyally guarding his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard, a church graveyard.
Despite efforts by the churchyard’s keepers to keep Bobby out or find him a new place to live, the dog kept coming back. While dogs weren’t allowed in the graveyard, Bobby became famous among the locals, who were moved by his unending loyalty. They looked after him and built him a shelter on the grounds.
He would only leave the graveyard once a day: at 1 PM, he would visit Temperance Coffee House for a meal — just like he had always done with his late owner.
Bobby spent 14 years by the gravesite, until he died on January 14, 1872 from cancer. His own grave can be found in the kirkyard, not far from his owner’s.
The gravestone reads: “Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”
Throughout history, people have been moved by stories of endlessly loyal dogs, who wait for their owners even after they’re long gone: It’s been part of many fictional stories, from The Odyssey to Futurama, and other real-life dogs have become their own local legends, like Japan’s Hachikō and Russia’s Kostya.
But for Scots, there’s no dog who represents a pet’s undying love like Greyfriars Bobby.
A bronze statue of the dog was erected on top of a fountain just across from the graveyard, and for more than a century it’s remained a favorite stop of visitors to Edinburgh.
Several shops and pubs in the area are named after Greyfriars Bobby. Many visitors take photos with Bobby and even rub his nose, which is said to be good luck — although officials warn against rubbing too hard, as the statue has had to be restored twice.
“You rarely go past the statue here without a throng of tourists from all sorts of different parts of the world, and quite right too,” Alastair Morrison, head of George Heriot’s Junior School, told The Independent.
“Greyfriars Bobby epitomised loyalty, dedication, and there’s no surprise that dogs are of course man’s best friend.”
Remembering Bobby 150 years later
Today marks the 150th anniversary of Greyfriar Bobby’s death — and locals took the occasion to pay tribute to this famous, loyal dog.
A group of schoolchildren from George Heriot’s Junior School took part in a memorial to Bobby at his grave.
A bagpiper played music, and Jack Johnstone, regional manager for UK dog welfare charity Dogs Trust, reflected on Bobby’s lasting legacy.
“It’s a privilege to be here today to pay our respects to Bobby, who symbolises everything that dogs can bring to the lives of humans, not only as pets, but as members of family,” he said, according to The Scotsman.
It’s incredible how endlessly loyal dogs are. The story of Greyfriars Bobby still moves people 150 years after he passed — he endures as an embodiment of a dog’s undying love.
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