Back in August, in my column on Dogs and grief, I cited the case of Greyfriars Bobby. This dog, according to legend, kept a 14-year vigil at the grave of its master while being cared for by local businessmen.
Research by historian Dr Jan Bondeson is published in a new book entitled Greyfriars Bobby: The Most Faithful Dog in the World and tells a different story.
Dr Bondeson believes that the story was fabricated by James Brown, the curator of the cemetery and John Traill, the owner of a nearby restaurant, to encourage the tourist trade. Mr Brown was known to accept donations for Bobby’s care and Mr Traill’s restaurant benefited from the many visitors to the churchyard.
Dr Bondeson says that the men likely replaced the original Bobby when he died with another dog to keep the legend going. In addition, he cites that in Victorian times there were many dogs that were fed and kept by the public that made graveyards their home. Bobby just became a celebrity amongst these dogs.