Saturday, December 29, 2012

Greyfriars Bobby Fraud Confirmed

A Victorian-era hoax and tourist trap.

In the dog world, it's long been known that the story of "Greyfriar's Bobby" was a hoax, but apparently it was a more elaborate hoax than was previously thought.  As The Daily Mail writes:

For more than a century, he has been seen as the epitome of man’s best friend, known for loyally refusing to leave his master’s graveside for 14 years.

Now, however, it appears the heartwarming tale of Greyfriars Bobby the Skye terrier was a Victorian hoax cooked up by money-grabbing businessmen, an academic has revealed.

Dr Jan Bondeson has uncovered evidence that there were in fact two Bobbies from 1858 to 1872 – and that neither of them belonged to the man buried in Greyfriars cemetery, Edinburgh, whose grave they sat by.

Dr Bondeson, who has published his findings in a book, said: ‘I knew the famous story of Greyfriars Bobby but the more I researched it the more I smelt a rat.’ His research shows the first dog was in fact a stray which wandered into the nearby Heriot’s hospital and was then taken to the graveyard.

James Brown, the curator of the cemetery, treated him so well that he stayed, and locals assumed he was mourning his dead master.

He says his research shows the first dog died in 1867 and was replaced with another by Mr Brown and Mr Traill in an effort to keep visitors flocking to the grave.

Dr Bondeson said: ‘Pictures of Greyfriars Bobby show a distinct change in May or June 1867.

‘The first was an elderly, tired dog who wasn’t much to look at, and the second a lively terrier who ran around and fought other dogs.

‘It would also explain Bobby’s longevity – he was supposed to have lived for 18 years, when even today ten to 12 years is a good life span for a Skye terrier.’

He said Bobby was ‘very good for the local economy’ so it wouldn’t have been difficult to persuade those who knew to keep quiet about the con.

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