Quite often I will drive to downtown San Diego early in the morning, park the car, and just wander around. Although I might look lost, I’m not. I’m just searching for those little things that are not in a tour guide and can’t be found in a Google search unless one knows what to search for.
On one such wandering last December, I found Bum and Greyfriars Bobby.
According to a plaque, Bum was San Diego’s official town dog. He arrived as a stowaway (although we don’t know whether on a stagecoach or a train), loved everyone, and “bummed” food from the local eateries. Bum lost a foreleg and part of his tail in a scuffle with another dog on the Santa Fe train tracks. Nonetheless, he looked after children, led parades, accompanied the fire brigade, and even greeted President Benjamin Harrison on his official visit to San Diego in 1891. Eventually the City Council awarded Bum a lifetime dog license. When Bum died on November 10, 1898, at the age of 12, children throughout the city collected pennies to provide for him a proper funeral.
Greyfriars Bobby is a Skye terrier from Scotland. The little guy faithfully accompanied John Gray, an Edinburgh policeman, on his daily rounds. When Gray died suddenly, Bobby is said to have slept loyally by his grave for more than 14 years. Bobby died at the age of 16 on January 11, 1872.
You might ask what Greyfriars Bobby is doing in San Diego. Well, I have the answer. Edinburgh, Scotland, is a sister city to San Diego, and in August 1997, on the twentieth anniversary of that sisterhood, the citizens of Edinburgh present San Diego with a replica of the Greyfriars Bobby statue from their city. Shortly thereafter, San Diego gave a replica of Bum to the citizens of Edinburgh. Bum is proudly bumming around at the foot of Edinburgh Castle.
A special bonus if you have a smart phone: hold your smart phone up to each statue’s bar code and the dogs will tell their stories via an actor’s voice.
Bum and Bobby rest in Pocket Park at Fourth Avenue and Island Avenue.
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