A Dog’s Supreme Act of Loyalty Inspires the World-Greyfriars Bobby

In the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, not far from the towering castle, is the small ancient Greyfriars Church. Outside the entrance to the walled courtyard of the church is a unique monument. The monument is a rock and black iron pedestal.  Unlike the towering monuments so typical of Britain, this pedestal is only about four feet high. On top of the pedestal is a black iron sculpture of a dog, a small unkempt mutt named “Bobby.”

In the 1858’s, Bobby’s master was a night watchman for the Edinburgh police. When he died, he was buried in the graveyard next to Greyfriars Church. 

 Bobby was three years old at the time.  After his master was buried, Bobby laid on the grave as if to stand watch. Bobby stayed on the grave, and he would only leave the church yard a couple of times a day to relieve himself. 

Inspired by this act of love and loyalty, the parishioners fed Bobby. In 1867, 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 Bobby’s license and gave the dog a collar, now in the Museum of Edinburgh

 Bobby stood guard on his master’s grave until he died at the age of seventeen. In other words, Bobby lovingly protected his master’s grave for fourteen years.

The residents of Edinburgh were so inspired by this supreme act of loyalty and love that they erected the monument which now stands in front of the church yard. The monument reads: “A Tribute to the Affectionate Fidelity of Greyfriars Bobby. In 1858 this faithful dog followed the remains of his mater to Greyfriars Churchyard and Lingered Near the Spot Until His Death in 1872.”

Since Bobby could not be buried with his master, because it was “consecrated” ground, the parishioners honored Bobby by burying him in the garden at the front of the church.

How long are we willing to stay by, and care for, those we love?  What are the limits to our loyalty?

(Sources: Personal tour of Edinburgh and Greyfriars Church. See also, “Greyfriars Bobby,” Wikipedia.  Several films and books are based on Bobby’s life.)

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