This book tells the true story of the legendary little black and tan terrier who was said to have kept vigil on his master’s grave for fourteen years. This sentimental tale has spawned numerous articles, children’s books, inspired a film starring Lassie, and even a Disney movie. But is it true?
Jan Bondeson does an excellent job of investigating this tale of canine love and loyalty, tracing the story back to its Victorian era roots. Who was the master who merited such loyalty? Was it all just a hoax? A journalistic invention designed to appeal to Victorian sentimentality or help espouse the burgeoning cause of animal rights? Or was it a case of canine cunning—a clever little dog who found a safe shelter in the cemetery and knew the tourists who came to see him would shower him with affection and treats and the owners of nearby restaurants would not let him go hungry?
Mr. Bondeson does a thorough job of investigating the legend of Greyfriars Bobby, though the more sentimental as well as animal lovers may be disappointed with his ultimate conclusions.
The book also includes chapters about legends of canine fidelity and charting the evolution of “The Dog on the Master’s Grave” stories which have been particularly prevalent in
France and all parts of the British
Isles dating back some centuries.