Bondeson treats the spurious legend of saint Bobby with perhaps a more gentle approach than it deserves. We are presented with a sequential and seemingly thorough presentation of the existing evidence for Greyfriars Bob, the contemporary detractors, the English heiress with more money than sense trying to impose gravestones and impractical drinking fountain, the fictionalisation of the story up to the present. A review of other graveyard legendary dogs (and a faithful mongoose doing the Welsh wolfhound Gelert story). Finally we meet up in the library at the final chapter for the author's conclusion of the evidence. If you were after a reassurance of your twee Victorian sentimental legends, you're going to have a bit of a shock.
Quite a good read, so SPOILER ALERT, it appears that stray dogs end up in cemeteries where there are a good supplies of rats to chase (bones aplenty also, but the author avoids this one) and a supply of mawkishly self deluding sentimental humans with lots of spare food and an over feverish imagination as to why a particular mutt is haunting a graveyard (sometimes authorities prevented owners from reclaiming their dog, as it had to belong to a burial which it was faithfully protecting.)
A Disneyfication of reality, the real Bobby (probably two dogs as the legend went on a bit too long for normal canine lifespan) was more like the eponymous Tramp from the cartoon film, a rough, tough, vicious stray earning a good feeding from the locals, who embellished his origin with faithful to his dead master for the tourists, just before they suggested "now you've seen the dog, why not try one of Mr Trail's pies, from the shop his master, old Jock, used to frequent."
Saying more about the social history of the Victorians, which sought to indoctrinate children through mawkish tales of kitties and woof woofs from the early days of the RSPCA, effectively inventing the myth of the animal loving society (that's why there are so many animal charities feeding unwanted carnivorous animals with the remains of other purposefully slaughtered animals, in a ridiculous waste of protein production). These are not the author's conclusions, but it is testament to the many strands present in the book that it can be read both on its entertainment value and as a citable source for social history. Illustrations work well in Kindle edition.