As you tour Scotland’s capital city you’ll notice people posing in front of a statue of a small dog. Learn the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the small hero behind this Edinburgh dog statue.
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The Story of Greyfriars Bobby
This little dog statue immediately caught my kids’ attention when we arrived in Edinburgh during the summer of 2016. They knew the story, because some of our Scottish friends gave us a picture book about Greyfriars Bobby when Emma was born. They had not seen the Disney movie, although I watched it with Lily and Anna last week.
You’ll always see people playing with dogs in Edinburgh parks, walking them on the street, and there is a special soldier’s dog burial ground area in Edinburgh Castle. The fictional Edinburgh based 44 Scotland Street book series features a dog named Cyril. Greyfriars Bobby is the most famous of all the Edinburgh dogs!
Which John Gray?
In the version of the Greyfriars Bobby story told by Disney and in the original Greyfriars Bobby storybook, this little Skye terrier belonged to a farmer named John Gray. The farmer died while visiting Edinburgh, and Greyfriars Bobby stood watch over his grave for 14 years.
In another version of the story, the one told by the site where Greyfriars Bobby is said to have eaten lunch every day, John Gray was an Edinburgh policeman. This policeman is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.
In 1981 a handsome monument was erected over Greyfriars Bobby’s grave. Despite contested details, the story of the loyalty of man’s best friend continues to capture hearts. Learn about some truly amazing dogs in this Wikipedia article.
If you visit Greyfriars Kirkyard, take a look at the other graves there. The Kirkyard is quite close to The Elephant Cafe, and you’ll see where author J.K. Rowling found inspiration for the names of many of her Harry Potter characters. Just remember, the graves are memorials for real people who were very different from Rowling’s characters!
Did you grow up watching the story of Greyfriars Bobby? Disney’s version features children who take a lot of initiative. It’s inspiring, but that part of the story appears to be made up just for the film. That fee was paid by Sir William Chambers, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.