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John Gray (also known as ‘Auld Jock’) a gardener, together with his wife Jess and son John arrived in Edinburgh around 1850. Unable to find work as a gardener he avoided the workhouse by joining the Edinburgh Police Force as a night watchman. To keep him company through the long winter nights John took on a partner, a Skye Terrier, his ‘watchdog’ called Bobby. Together John and Bobby became a familiar sight trudging through the old cobbled streets of Edinburgh. Through thick and thin, winter and summer, they were faithful friends. The years on the streets appear to have taken their toll on John, as he was treated by the Police Surgeon for tuberculosis. John eventually died of the disease on the 15th February 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Bobby led his master’s funeral procession to the grave at Greyfriars Cemetery, and later, when he tried to stay at the graveside, he was sent away by the caretaker. The wee dog returned and refused to leave; whatever the weather conditions. Despite the efforts of the keeper of the kirkyard, John's family and the local people, Bobby refused to be enticed away from the grave for any length of time, and he touched the hearts of the local residents. Although dogs were not allowed in the graveyard, the people rallied round and built a shelter for Bobby and there he stayed, guarding Auld Jock. For fourteen years Bobby lay on the grave, leaving only for food. When the firing of the one o'clock gun sounded from Edinburgh Castle each day, Bobby would leave his post, and run to the eating house which he had frequented with Auld Jock. News of Bobby’s loyalty spread, and people would travel far and wide just to see him. Crowds would gather for the firing of the one o'clock gun, to see Bobby run for his midday meal. In 1867 a new bye-law was passed that required all dogs to be licensed in the city or they would be destroyed. As Bobby no longer had an owner, he had no-one to buy the licence and faced being put down. Sir William Chambers (The Lord Provost of Edinburgh) decided to pay Bobby's licence and presented him with a collar with a brass inscription "Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed". This can be seen at the Museum of Edinburgh. Although Bobby was well cared for by the people of Edinburgh, he still remained loyal to his master, and he continued to stay faithfully guarding Auld Jock's grave for all those years, until he died on January 14th 1872, aged 16. Bobby's grave is also in Greyfriars Kirkyard, located just 75 yards from his masters grave. He has a red granite headstone, which was unveiled by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester CCVO, in 1981. Which can be seen at N55 56.794 W003 11.510, just in from the Kirk’s gate. A statue erected in honer of Bobby can be seen at N55 56.816 W003 11.477, pretty much just outside of the Kirk’s gate, on the street. As this is a Muggle ‘hot-spot’, discretion is needed.
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