Greyfriars Bobby remembered by the city he made his home

Bobby remembered: city gathers on anniversary of Greyfriars Bobby's death.
Bobby remembered: city gathers on anniversary of Greyfriars Bobby's death.STV

He may be our city's smallest and furriest ambassador, but inch for inch, Greyfriars Bobby has proven himself worth several times his weight in gold.

The story of the loyal little terrier that faithfully stood guard over his beloved master’s grave has pulled on the heartstrings of locals and tourists alike for well over a century.

He's inspired books, films, toys and tributes and now, marking 141 years since the little fellow’s death, he is being honoured once again.

The first ever public performance of 'Tribute to Greyfriars Bobby', a specially written tribute composed and performed by leading piper Jennifer Hutcheon, is to be played by his graveside in the city today, to mark the anniversary of his death.

The scruffy Skye terrier, who became a firm and much loved friend of the people of Edinburgh, will also have a wreath laid at his headstone by local primary school children, a speech by the Lord Provost and a special guard of honour from the Army and Air Force Cadets of George Heriot’s school.

The Rt Hon Donald Wilson, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, said: "It's humbling to think that it was one of my Lord Provost predecessors who saved Greyfriars Bobby from an unhappy fate nearly 150 years ago.

"The story of this doting dog has won the hearts of millions of people all over the world and I am proud to be playing a role in Monday's commemoration ceremony.”

The popular story of Bobby is that he was the pet of John Gray, an Edinburgh policeman who died of tuberculosis in 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Unable to be parted from his master, Bobby spent the next 14 years of his life faithfully guarding the site of his late owner's grave - leaving only to get food before hurrying back to keep his loyal watch duties.

When the dedicated little dog died, he was buried just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray's grave and to this day visitors leave tributes to him.

Manager of the Greyfriars Bobby's Bar Gillian Newman said: “Greyfriars Bobby is really important to the people of Edinburgh because he is a part of our history and our heritage. His story is about that loyalty that animals and people have for each other.

“Bobby was very loyal to his master. People come from all over the world to see his grave because of his story and it is one of our city’s most iconic stories too.

“He was a great wee dog and the people love him.”

Unfortunately, the 'Bobby breed' of Skye terrier is currently on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Breeds list and is considered to be at risk of dying out due to a yearly registration figure of fewer than 300 puppies.

There are currently only 3,500-4,000 Skye Terriers across the world. Estimates put the number of tigers at between 3,000 and 4,000.

But even if Bobby's likeness may not always be carried on in his breed, his spirit and scruffy form have been captured in a statue and fountain erected at the southern end of the George IV Bridge to commemorate him.

The Museum of Edinburgh in the Canongate still has Bobby's collar and his bowl on show to the public, and in honour of his lifelong committed vigil to his beloved master, the following words are also engraved on Bobby's tomb stone:

Greyfriars Bobby - died 14th January 1872 - aged 16 years - Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.

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