Upon joining NetFlix recently, I coaxed my kids to watch an old film from Disney entitled ‘Greyfriars Bobby.’ I can only say that they were ‘charmed’ by this beautiful tale of devotion and faithfulness. Therefore, I once again went to ‘my’ trusty standby, Wikipedia for more information on the subject. It is provided below for all to see. Bobby’s memory must never be forgotten. It is a joy to introduce him to another generation of souls in need of inspiration.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bobby’s owner, John Gray, worked for the Edinburgh Police Department (EPD) as a night watchman until he died of tuberculosis on 15 February 1858. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby, who survived with John for 14 years, is said to have spent the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave. A more realistic account has it that he spent a great deal of time at Gray’s grave, but that he left regularly for meals at a restaurant beside the graveyard, and may have spent colder winters in nearby houses.
In 1867, when it was pointed out that an unowned dog should be put down, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers (who was also a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), paid for a renewal of Bobby’s license, making him the responsibility of the city council.
Bobby passed away in 1872 and could not be buried within the cemetery itself, since it was consecrated ground, instead he was buried just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave. His headstone states, "Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years – Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all".
Books and films
His intense loyalty made Bobby popular with dog lovers, who spread and embellished the story. Books and films based directly on the story include:
- The book Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson, which greatly embellished the story, and made John Gray a farm laborer, known as "Auld Jock". The 1961 film Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog was based on this book.
- Another film, The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby, was released in the UK in February 2006 starring Oliver Golding and Christopher Lee (released elsewhere in 2005 under the alternative title Greyfriars Bobby).
The famous Edinburgh Castle scenes were actually shot in nearby Stirling Castle, whilst many have reservations on casting a West Highland Terrier as Bobby, and for adding new characters while leaving out one of the later major character in Bobby’s life, John Traill. 
Fictional works that have referenced the Greyfriars Bobby story include:
- A Challenge to Lassie (1949), an earlier film based on Atkinson’s book, but replacing Bobby with Lassie.
- Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett, in which Gaspode the Wonder Dog explains he is named after the famous Gaspode, who sat at his master’s grave and howled for the rest of his life. It is the latter Gaspode’s opinion that the gravestone was placed on his namesake’s tail.
- The Futurama episode "Jurassic Bark" features a dog who waits for his lost master until his own death.
- In the 1945 film The Body Snatcher, Boris Karloff‘s character (incidentally named Gray) digs up bodies from graves. One of these bodies is that of John Gray. Bobby tries to stop him from taking the corpse, but is struck over the head by Boris Karloff’s character, and killed.
Today, a small statue of Greyfriars Bobby stands in front of a pub, also called Greyfriars Bobby, which is located in front of Greyfriars Kirkyard. The statue originally faced toward the graveyard and pub but has since been turned around, allegedly by a previous landlord of the pub so that the pub would appear in the background of the many photographs that are taken each year.
Guided tours of the kirkyard are given by a number of groups, including the Greyfriars Bobby Walking Theatre and the Greyfriars Kirkyard Trust.
- Greyfriars Bobby Walking Theatre
- The Story
- Greyfriars Kirkyard photographs
- Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog at the Internet Movie Database
- Greyfriars Kirkyard Trust
- Greyfriars Bobby, a 1912 novel by Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson, at Project Gutenberg
- The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby Film Website
- Greyfriars Bobby (2005 film) at the Internet Movie Database
- Death and a Dog’s Devotion Greyfriar’s Bobby and recent news stories of faithful dogs
- Greyfriars Bobby and other venerable animals @ Ward’s Book of Days
- Dog Refuses to Abandon Murdered Farmer Grisly news story of a dog who stayed by his dead master’s side (Zimbabwe, 2002). Article includes links to other recent news stories about faithful dogs.