Friday, August 15, 2008

Greyfriars Bobby

the theatre space where Whiskey Bars plays ever night happens to be just down the street from the most-photographed statue in all of Scotland: Greyfriars Bobby. it's a statue of a dog, apparently a Skye Terrier (though he looks a bit of a mutt, to me). he was owned by John Gray, who was a night watchman for the police--a job that would be much improved by the constant companionship of a loyal little dog! the name Bobby is pretty typical for a police dog--"bobby" is slang for cop, after all.

Bobby is famous because he guarded the grave of his dead master for 14 years...from 1858 to 1872, spending his days by the grave, coming out of the cemetery only for meals. apparently people would stand around Greyfriars churchyard at lunchtime, to watch the little dog trot out for his midday meal, provided by the nearby restaurant. during the colder parts of the winter, the ownerless dog was taken in by nearby houses, which overlook the churchyard.

so Bobby is remembered for his great fidelity, and though the Scots couldn't bring themselves to bury a dog in consecrated ground, when the terrier died, they gave him a beautiful statue on the street, and a grave at the entrance to the churchyard. what i like about the story isn't the statue so much as the dog's gravesite...because to this day, people leave sticks on his grave. because after all, what would a dog like? flowers are irrelevant...but sticks, now that's something a dog can appreciate. even dog ghosts probably like playing fetch.

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