Council Weighs In On Bobby Rubbing

Greyfriar's Bobby, Pre-op

Greyfriar’s Bobby, Pre-op

Edinburgh’s world famous pup Greyfriar’s Bobby got a facelift earlier this week, following a successful Facebook campaign by Bobby enthusiasts. On Tuesday sculpture conservation and bronzework specialists enlisted by Edinburgh Council worked to restore the black on the dog’s snout after years worth of passerbys rubbing his nose for good luck.

Bobby campaigners had resorted to making nocturnal restoration visits to the statue in the past, touching up the dog’s nose with boot polish. They also called for the statue’s original purpose as a drinking fountain for dogs to be reinstated.

Work undertaken on the statue included a thorough clean with a mild detergent, then heated with a blowtorch to restore colour, followed by a microcrystaline wax and finally two further coats of wax were applied once the dog had cooled.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Culture and Sport Convener, said: “Although Bobby has never been in any immediate danger, it was highlighted to us that the practice of rubbing his nose was starting to make him look a little scruffy. As one of the most famous – and most popular – statues in the Capital, it’s only right that he looks his best at all times.

“Once we became aware of the local concern it was clear that we had to act and I’m delighted we’ve been able to get specialists in to restore Greyfriars Bobby to his former glory.”

Greyfriar's Bobby, Post-op

Greyfriar’s Bobby, Post-op

The Facebook campaign, entitled Stop People Rubbing Greyfriars Bobby’s Nose It is NOT a Tradition, called on the council to restore the commemorative statue and was started by local resident Becky Thomson.

She said: “This campaign started out as a bit of fun and I was amazed by how many people supported the page. We discussed ways we could address the problem as ordinary members of the public – by asking tour guides to discourage it or maybe using anti-climb paint.

“Given that this is a world-famous statue in a World Heritage site it now makes sense the council are involved. Now it is up to anybody who is passing just to keep an eye open and politely ask people to keep their paws off Bobby’s nose so it doesn’t happen again.”

Bobby was a Skye Terrier owned by John Gray (or ‘Auld Jock’ as he was known to locals). Bobby was so loyal to his master that when Auld Jock died of tuberculosis on 15th February in 1858 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, the dog kept a daily vigil and lay over his masters grave for 14 years until his own death on 14th January 1872. Bobby’s story is well-known across the world, with his statue in Edinburgh visited by thousands of tourists every day.


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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