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Greyfriars Bobby: The Most Faithful Dog in the World Paperback – 15 Nov 2012
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Reveals there was more than one Greyfriars Bobby... all the evidence points to Scotland's most-loved pooch being two completely different dogs.' (THE DAILY RECORD)
There were two Greyfriars Bobbies!' (THE SCOTS MAGAZINE)
Greyfriars Bobby was a Victorian con trick. Jan Bondeson has uncovered evidence that there were in fact two Bobbies and that neither of them belonged to the man buried in Greyfriar's cemetery, Edinburgh, whose grave they sat on' (THE DAILY MAIL)
Greyfriars Bobby, the Victorian dog that held a 14-year vigil at the grave of its master, is actually a myth... a publicity stunt drummed up by local businessmen to attract custom to their corner of Edinburgh' (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)
About the Author
Jan Bondeson is a senior lecturer at Cardiff University. He lived in London for many years, and has spent decades studying the criminal history of the metropolis. His many critically acclaimed titles include 'Queen Victoria's Stalker', 'Amazing Dogs', 'Buried Alive' and 'Freaks'. He lives in Newport in Wales.
Top customer reviews
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I expected something controversial and instead found a long chronological recounting of events. Fortunately, the author has a very readable style. Some choices of adjectives made me wonder if the author likes looking down a long nose at the rest of us, but I just ignored the haughty tones (snickering at one really outlandish use, so perhaps it was humor that did not translate well) and enjoyed learning the history of a favorite character (up to current day, so including events just for Bobby's statue). Numerous illustrations and photographs of old Edinburgh add visual appeal. One reason for the four stars was the text describing how the alleged Bobby I and Bobby II dogs differed in appearance, but if both visuals are in the book, why not put them together at that point? I will be disappointed if after hunting for the referred to pictures to not find both in the book, but a hunting I have to go.
Bondeson includes stories of other dogs, both faithful (Hachikō, the Japanese Akito that waited for daily for a master who had died) and independent of masters (Owney, the U.S. railway mail dog).
Who should purchase this book? Anyone interested in historical stories about dogs, and definitely anone interested in Greyfriars Bobby. Should learning that possibly two dogs were running around with the name bother someone? Well, if reading the many books with contradictory stories does not bother you (was Bobby's master a shepherd, a farmer, a night watchman, or a local policeman?), why should reading one more that has yet more versions. This one has a lot of citations for the research is the only difference.
I must have seen the Disney movie version of Greyfriars Bobby as a child because I have always loved the story. As interesting as the research presented by the author is, I do wonder if more documentation could be found hiding in old archives. I wouldn't mind finding more information because it could add to the historical events (whether or not supporting Bondeson's conclusions), and what won't change is that Greyfriars Bobby is a story about a dog (man's best friend) in Scotland (land of my heart, even if not of my forebears).
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