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Animal heroes: Greyfriars Bobby and Old Jock

Posted in Animals, Dogs on Tuesday, 29 May 2007

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Greyfriars Bobby and Old Jock (illustration, picture: John Millar Watt)

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier. His coat was slate-grey and silver and he had the hardiness acquired by those of his breed who, like himself, were born on the heather-clad Scottish hills.

Bobby had devotedly attached himself to Auld Jock, a shepherd, a man about whom nothing was known, except his fondness for Bobby. The two of them came into Edinburgh one market day in the year 1858, and never returned to the hills, for Auld Jock fell ill and died in the city. Such was Bobby’s devotion to the old man that he refused to leave him even after the funeral. For the next fourteen years Bobby slept on Auld Jock’s grave almost every night, and nothing could persuade him to leave. His lonely vigil became known throughout Scotland, and even Queen Victoria, when at Balmoral, asked for news of the brave little Skye terrier. He was made a Freeman of the City of Edinburgh and was given a collar with a small metal plate inscribed: Greyfriars Bobby. From the Lord Provost, 1867. Licensed.

When Bobby died, he was buried alongside his master in the churchyard where, for 14 long and lonely years, he had so faithfully watched over the old man’s grave. Today there is a statue and drinking fountain opposite the main gateway to the churchyard, erected in memory of one small dog’s devotion to his master.

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