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Greyfriars Bobby A Hoax
August 3, 2011 7:55 AM   Subscribe


 
Say it ain't so!
posted by louche mustachio at 7:57 AM on August 3, 2011


Oh. The Daily Mail says so, eh. Certainly it must be true then.
posted by elizardbits at 7:59 AM on August 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


It turns out that I'm quite emotionally invested in the truth of that story, even though I hadn't thought about it in years.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:00 AM on August 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


as we say in Swedish; "Här ligger en hund begraven"
literal translation of idiom: there's a dog buried here. Meaning: something is strange about this story
posted by dabitch at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


... the more I researched it the more I smelt a rat.

Funny. I always think "rat" when I see dogs like that.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


In before the DailyMail thread is deleted!
posted by Theta States at 8:02 AM on August 3, 2011


Här ligger en gravad hund!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:02 AM on August 3, 2011


Funny. I always think "rat" when I see dogs like that.

That's weird. When I see dogs like that, I always think, "WHO'S A PUPPY? YOUUUU'RE A PUPPY! THAT'S RIGHT! HEYYYY, PUPPY! WHO'S THE BEST PUPPY? YOU ARE! YOU'RE THE BEST PUPPY EVVERRR!"
posted by phunniemee at 8:03 AM on August 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


This just in: Internet Explorer IQ study also a hoax.
posted by tommasz at 8:03 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


That poor dog. Forced to stand over a grave for 14 years for publicity. Tsk tsk.
posted by DU at 8:03 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the story of Hachikou is still true, isn't it?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:07 AM on August 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


You'll always have Stiffy Green!
posted by headspace at 8:07 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Noooooooooo. That makes a lot more sense, but ruins a pretty good story. And what kind of grinch decides that this is the historical myth they absolutely have to disprove?
posted by troublewithwolves at 8:12 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know it must be true because I read it in the Daily Mail.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:16 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


This doesn't change the fact that visiting the graveyard it's in is a quick and engrossing trip to Morpork.
posted by The Whelk at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2011


Need more sad puppytimes? Here you go.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bu..bu..bu..but that was one of my FAVORITE "Wonderful World Of Disney" movies ever!
posted by briank at 8:18 AM on August 3, 2011


as we say in Swedish; "Här ligger en hund begraven"
literal translation of idiom: there's a dog buried here. Meaning: something is strange about this story
posted by dabitch at 8:01 AM on August 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


eponysterical!
posted by newmoistness at 8:20 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


louche mustachio: Say it ain't so

Contrarily, I experience relief when these sorts of stories turn out to be fables. The thought of a dog waiting for a master who will never return, or standing vigil over the remains of a dead mistress for more than a decade, is nearly unbearably sad to me.

Possibly this is because of my neurotic but loyal dog who would totally do that, and the idea breaks my heart.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:23 AM on August 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I quite like the thought of "begraven" as a word in English actually.

"We were left begraven by the theft of our aunt."
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 8:23 AM on August 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I adore Greyfriars Bobby, and shall ignore this article and refuse to believe it is a hoax. I am cynical and angry about enough things - this is one of the things I refuse to give up. I'm going to keep the legend alive in my imagination, even if it kills me. :P
posted by perilous at 8:31 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Came here to ask about Hachikō, too. If you bastards take that away from me ...
posted by penduluum at 8:34 AM on August 3, 2011


I was just in Edinburgh last weekend. Saw the statue and everything. How disappointing.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2011


It's actually entirely true, except that the dog was eventually lured away by a nearby Victrola.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unavailable for comment.
posted by Gator at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2011


I AM SHOCKED, SHOCKED I SAY.
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on August 3, 2011


William the Silent's dog did the same thing.

William the Silent is, of course, also without comment.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:42 AM on August 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


At least we know that the story of Fry's dog waiting for him is still just as true as it always was. (And horribly depressing.)

Also, it's interesting to me that the author who is disproving the story still subtitled the book "The Most Faithful Dog in the World."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm actually glad to learn the story isn't true. Instead of a dog waiting at his master's grave for...I don't know what he'd actually be waiting for, the guy to come back I'm guessing - he was a happy dog who was well taken care of and just had a weird place he liked to hang out.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


That all makes sense. But I refuse to believe it.
posted by marxchivist at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having never heard of this before, I was not fooled by this cruel hoax. Take THAT, Victorian pranksters!
posted by orme at 8:52 AM on August 3, 2011


So a story based mainly on conjecture has been "disproven" based mainly on conjecture?

From the link:
'Then a scholar called Forbes Macgregor, who wrote a biography of Greyfriars Bobby, found there was a man named John Gray buried in the cemetery in 1858 and believed he had been the dog's master.

'But Gray was the local policeman and it doesn't make sense for him to have had Bobby as a police dog - he was about the size of a cat.

'Besides, local people would have remembered him as being the police dog and there would have been no mystery about his origins.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021906/A-Victorian-hoax-Greyfriars-Bobby-kept-vigil-masters-grave-14-years-publicity-stunt.html#ixzz1TyuzhVhb


It's not plausible for a policeman to be the master of a small dog? This debunking theory is full of more holes than the original story.
posted by rocket88 at 8:53 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascinating article. Turns out there were over 60 'graveyard dogs' in Victorian England - stray dog wanders into a graveyard. Lonely graveyard curator feeds dog, like stray cats, to keep it around as company (and I guess keep out intruders). Visitors see the dog and, in their Victorian imagination, assume it's "keeping watch" over a dead master. The dog gets free food, the visitors get a good story and the curator gets good tips. Works out for everyone involved. In Bobby's case the story just went viral to the point it's still active. It's like those email chain letters.
posted by stbalbach at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I walk past Bobby's statue most days. The idea that surrounding businesses would have conspired to milk the story for all it's worth sounds very, very believable.
posted by rory at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


tommasz: "This just in: Internet Explorer IQ study also a hoax."

But it took a Chrome user to figure it out.*

There's a link on the bottom of the article in this FPP about a dog who was stabbed with an 8" knife in Manchester and walking around the streets with it sticking out of his back (!). Happily, despite his serious injuries, the vet saved his life (yay!).

Reading on, apparently violence against dogs is endemic in Manchester. ~15% of the strays that come in from that area have been attacked and brutalized in some way. That's just...why would that be? Is Manchester full of dog-hating thugs? Are the people poor (perhaps because of spending all their money on the Manchester football teams) and taking it out on the dogs? Are there dog-fighting rings? Can anyone shed some light on this?

*I just made that up. I should write for the Mail.
posted by misha at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2011


I think I almost prefer the debunking -- makes the dog seem happier. And I love the idea of over 60 graveyard dogs!

But I swear to god if the Daily Mail tries to take Hachiko away from me...
posted by AmandaA at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2011


I swear to god if the Daily Mail tries to take Hachiko away from me

FOREIGN DOG CAUSES CEREBRAL HEMORRHAGE
posted by IanMorr at 9:13 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does this mean that Gelert's a hoax, too?
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2011


And, of course, if Bobby was a terrier, he'd help to keep the rats down -- which would be a good reason to have a dog in a graveyard/church.
posted by jrochest at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"But I hope my research will help shed light on the truth behind the story, and finally allow Bobby to stand up on his Edinburgh monument, and free himself of the Victorian conventions of how a dog should behave."

Thank God there's finally someone around to free dead dogs of Victorian oppression. Rise up, deceased canines of the 19th century and throw off those shackles forged in the white-hot forges of the industrial age! You have nothing to lose but your statues!

(I note that the author appears to be a go-to author for the Daily Mail on all things Victorian. And I don't mean to be hypercritical, but given the amount they publish, I can't help but wonder at the intensity of the research that went into any of this.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2011


Next week: Skye terriers give you cancer.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kept vigil for 14 years huh? That's nothing. Lassie starred in movies for more than 50 years.
posted by binturong at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2011


Dog bides man.
posted by zippy at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


oh, son of a bitch.
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:42 AM on August 3, 2011


It's not plausible for a policeman to be the master of a small dog?

Hard to say, he died in 1858, the culture was not the same as today. For example Victorian ladies may have seen a tough policeman as master of a ladies lap dog so unusual that it added to the myth in a way that would be hard to understand today.
posted by stbalbach at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2011


the author appears to be a go-to author for the Daily Mail on all things Victorian

Isn't that pretty much all of the writers for the Daily Mail? ("I say, Carruthers, one of those heathen Chinamen appears to have besmirched my tailcoat. Have him flogged and then made into a nutritious gruel to feed to my bootblack.")
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:48 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Fanny."
posted by Gator at 9:53 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


One lie, EVERY DAY.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2011


I'm a little suspicious of Dr. Bondeson who also asserted that the Nazi's bred a super race of dogs, besides the Welsh can not be counted on to accurately research the history of England or Scotland even though Dr. Bondeson is Swedish born. On several occasions I let a flat not more than 100 ft. from Greyfriars Bobbie's statue and I know it is a true story. Final word.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh great, next thing you'll be telling me that Futurama episode is fictional!
posted by ErikaB at 10:19 AM on August 3, 2011


Does this mean that Gelert's a hoax, too?

Sadly yes. The folktale's been around for far longer than the name "Gelert", and the Welsh village supposedly named after the dog was probably actually named after an early saint.
posted by ZsigE at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2011


Wait...Dr. Bondeson claims there was a German dog named Rolf who was super-intelligent, could write, and lacked only the ability to speak? Has anybody asked him how Mike Callahan and Jake Stonebender are doing lately? Or told Spider Robinson that he's got a big fan in Cardiff?
posted by hackwolf at 11:06 AM on August 3, 2011


Well, dammit. Hopefully the memorial stick I placed on his grave was picked up by a real and deserving pooch.
posted by robstercraw at 11:50 AM on August 3, 2011


"Shep" of Fort Benton, Montana.

Despite a lot of hype, projection, and maudlin sentiment, definitely not a hoax. Shep, apparently waiting for someone who never came back to him, greeted each train that arrived at the Fort Benton railroad station from August 1936 to January 1942.
 
posted by Herodios at 12:17 PM on August 3, 2011


I can't believe it took someone 5 years to figure this out. I did a walking tour through Edinburgh and figured it out in 5 minutes.

Oh, and daily mail, grumble grumble...
posted by purephase at 12:27 PM on August 3, 2011


Hard to say, he died in 1858, the culture was not the same as today. For example Victorian ladies may have seen a tough policeman as master of a ladies lap dog so unusual that it added to the myth in a way that would be hard to understand today.

Skye terriers are sheep herding dogs, not lap dogs. But they are not really police dogs either.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:27 PM on August 3, 2011


Please, God, please. Please let the thread go by without anyone linking to the last scene of that Futurama episode. You know the one. Don't do it. Please. That's all I ask.
posted by The Bellman at 2:42 PM on August 3, 2011


You're several hours too late.
posted by Gator at 3:34 PM on August 3, 2011


Skye terriers are sheep herding dogs, not lap dogs.

No, like all terriers, they are vermin-killing dogs. Still not lap dogs, though.
posted by biscotti at 5:04 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I walk past Bobby's statue most days. The idea that surrounding businesses would have conspired to milk the story for all it's worth sounds very, very believable.

Absolutely. I will still frequent Bobby's Sandwich Bar on the basis of their chicken, peanut butter, and sweet chili sauce chiabatta combo alone, though.
posted by cerbous at 5:10 PM on August 3, 2011


Man, fuck Greyfriars' Bobby. All* good-thinking people know that when it comes to intelligent loyal dogs hanging out in Scotland who acheive legendary status and get a statue built in their image, there is no other dog than Bamse, a St Bernard ship dog from Norway who spent most of WWII stationed in Dundee and Montrose.

Some highlights:
In battle, he would stand on the front gun tower of the boat, and the crew made him a special metal helmet. His acts of heroism included saving a young lieutenant commander who had been attacked by a man wielding a knife by pushing the assailant into the sea, and dragging back to shore a sailor who had fallen overboard. He was also known for breaking up fights amongst his crewmates by putting his paws on their shoulders, calming them down and then leading them back to the ship. One of Bamse's tasks in Scotland was to round up his crew and escort them back to the ship in time for duty or curfew. To do this, he travelled on the local buses unaccompanied, and the crew bought him a bus pass which was attached to his collar. Bamse would wander down to the bus stop at Broughty Ferry Road and take the bus down to Dundee. He would get off at the bus stop near his crew's favourite watering hole, the Bodega Bar and go in to fetch them. If he could not locate his friends he would take the bus back to base.



*Not intended as a factual statement; may in fact be limited to people in North east Scotland with long memories and/or interest in arcane local history
posted by Len at 5:40 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always hope these stories are fake. Too depressing to be true and people just aren't worthy of such devotion.
posted by codswallop at 5:41 PM on August 3, 2011


See Spot.
See Spot run.
Run, Spot, run.
See Dick.
See Jane.
See Dick die.
Die, Dick, die.
See Jane dig.
See Jane bury Dick.
See Spot see Jane bury Dick.
See Jane leave.
See Spot wait.
Wait, Spot, wait.
See sun set.
See Spot dig.
See Dick.
See Spot eat.
Eat, Spot, eat.
See Spot bury Dick.
See sun rise.
See Spot wait.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:08 PM on August 3, 2011


Len: "All* good-thinking people know that . . . there is no other dog than Bamse, a St Bernard ship dog from Norway who spent most of WWII stationed in Dundee and Montrose. "

Oh my goodness, "Bamse" means "teddy bear"! I am dying from the cuteness. I've always been a cat person, but these charming dog stories really have made me think more fondly of dogs in general.

True, they slobber and they have that doggy smell and they don't like baths and they jump up and put muddy paws on you and also you have to walk them and then scoop up the poo, whereas cats leave their scoopable poo right nearby in a box.

But! If I died, my cats would not keep a loyal vigil by my grave.

Though they would dispose of my body tidily by eating me for sustenance.

Gosh, now I'm torn.
posted by misha at 6:14 PM on August 3, 2011


The Daily Mail is a hoax. So there.

Also, my favourite famous doggy is Smoky, the War Hero Yorkshire Terrier. Probably because I have a Yorkie that I love and adore, who is the sweetest dog I've ever met in the world and I'm so glad she's mine (even if she's a bit pudgy and snorts like a pig when she's begging for food).
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:39 PM on August 3, 2011


Also, my favourite famous doggy is Smoky, the War Hero Yorkshire Terrier.

Smokey was my Yorkie's name. He was the best dog I ever had.

Probably because I have a Yorkie that I love and adore, who is the sweetest dog I've ever met in the world and I'm so glad she's mine (even if she's a bit pudgy and snorts like a pig when she's begging for food).

Mine did that, too. It's been a couple years since he died, and I will always miss him.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:31 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, like all terriers, they are vermin-killing dogs. Still not lap dogs, though.

I should have been more concise. They are sheep herder's dogs. Some do herding as well as vermin control, but they have always been favored by livestock ranchers for their ability to hunt out vermin on the property, not to mention their ferocious loyalty. Not great with children and temperamental even by terrier standards, but definitely among the most loyal of all dog breeds. Definitely a working dog, not a lap dog.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:38 AM on August 4, 2011


krinklyfig so sorry for your loss! :-(
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:41 PM on August 4, 2011


krinklyfig so sorry for your loss! :-(

Thanks. It's OK. I do miss him but am happy to have the time we did together.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:37 PM on August 4, 2011


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