The Dog That Wouldn’t Leave – a true story poem

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The Dog That Wouldn’t Leave – a true story poem

The Dog That Wouldn’t Leave – a true story poem
This is a historic poem about “Greyfriars Bobby”. The story goes that “Bobby” was a Skye Terrier who was well known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his master, John Gray (Old Jock), until the loyal terrier also passed away on 14 January 1872. A year later, Lady Burdett-Coutts, who was deeply affected by the story, had a statue and fountain erected at the southern end of the George IV Bridge to commemorate him. Several books and films have been based on Bobby’s life, including the novel Greyfriar’s Bobby (1912) by Eleanor Atkinson and the films Greyfriars Bobby (1961), and The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby (2006). In 2011 Jan Bondeson at Cardiff University published research that suggests Bobby might have been a Victorian-era publicity stunt by local businesses to drum up tourist revenue. According to Bondeson’s research, Bobby was one of two look-alike stray dogs specifically trained to remain by the grave. In truth, we’ll never know – but the story touches the heart of every person who has ever loved a dog.

statue of Greyfriars Bobby

The Dog That Wouldn’t Leave – a true story poem
copyright 2012 by jon gutmacher

There was a man who owned a dog
and worked each day so hard
and when he finally made it home
dog waited in his yard

He’d lost his wife
so many years
his home an empty place
but faithful dog
was always there
brought cheer to
deep creased face

And while the food was meager
And while the nights were cold
And though the wind blew thru the cracks
And though they both grew old

There still was joy between them
a scratch on furry ear
they shared their meals
they shared their love
and brought each other

And one day the man grew deathly ill
he passed in mid of night
the dog beside him all that time
and through the mornings light

An older friend did find him
the dog still at his side
his lifeless hand
upon its head
and yes – the dog
it cried

And when they laid him in the ground
the dog was there to see
and never strayed from master’s grave
refused to go
or flee

I fed that dog
as others did
it broke my heart to see
in rain or cold
just lying there
til death, too
set him free

We buried him
by his master’s side
a small stone by his head
“Here lies a dog
“most faithfully . . .
“man’s truest,
“dearest friend”

The background image is a photo of the actual Greyfriars Bobby statue erected in Scotland over one hundred years ago.
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One Comment so far:

  1. Philip Winnell says:

    A lovely poem. It’s a shame we can’t all have a faithful friend like that.

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