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Dog + Man: From The Odyssey to Beginners

Posted May 23, 2011 to photo album "Dog + Man: From The Odyssey to Beginners"

In Beginners, the dog Arthur and the human Oliver create an emotional bond that echoes back all the way to Homer.

Arthur + Oliver
Argos + Odysseus
Peritas + Alexander the Great
Gelert + Llywelyn
Guinefort + his Knight
Donnchadh + Robert the Bruce
Urian + Cardinal Wolsey
Pompey + William the Silent
Luath + Robert Burns
Boatswain + Lord Byron
Fortune + Josephine
Lauro + Napoleon
Seaman + Meriwether Lewis
Flush + Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Greyfriars Bobby + John Gray
Balto + Gunnar Kaasen
Hachiko + Hidesaburo Ueno
Greyfriars Bobby + John Gray

Greyfriars Bobby + John Gray

Statue of Greyfriars Bobby; Grave site.

In the Victorian era, stories about dogs and their human companions proliferated. Among the most famous was the tale of a Skye terrier named Greyfriars Bobby, whose life has been immortalized in books, films, and legend. Bobby was the companion of John Gray, a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police. For two years the pair were said to be inseparable, but on Feb. 8, 1858, Gray died of tuberculosis. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in the old part of Edinburgh, and for the next 14 years Bobby sat on his Gray’s grave, leaving only to eat at a nearby restaurant and perhaps to take refuge in a nearby house during cold winter days. When a law was passed by the city that all dogs without owners were to be put to death, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers, paid for Bobby’s license out of city funds making him the responsibility of the city council. When Bobby died, he was buried at the gate of the graveyard (as an animal he couldn’t be buried on consecrated ground). His tombstone reads: “Greyfriars Bobby, Died 14 January, 1872, Aged 16 years, Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.” Bobby’s grave is now a shrine at which dog lovers pay their respects, leaving flowers, dog toys and, of course, sticks.