San Diego's Bum and Greyfriars Bobby

As our first blog post, we wanted to share a story you may not know about that shows how our companion animals can have a strong effect on our lives and the lives of others. At the animal hospital, our team is always aware of the importance of this bond.

While attending the AHVMA conference in San Diego, Dr. Tompkins took some time to explore the downtown area of San Diego in the Gaslamp Quarter. At the small park outside the William Heath Davis House, he came across two life-sized statues of dogs in the park. One statue was of a large dog named Bum, and the other was of the more recognizable Skye Terrier named Greyfriars Bobby.

 

While you may have heard the story behind Greyfriars Bobby spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner in Edinburgh, Scotland, most of you would not have heard of Bum or why there is a statue of him in San Diego and in Edinburgh.

 

Bum was a St. Bernard – Spaniel Cross that became the first dog to be licensed in San Diego and was given his namesake by begging for food at local restaurants and butcher shops. Bum was a free spirit and was everybody’s dog. He became the first and only town dog of San Diego with one restaurant capitalizing on his endorsement with the sign "Bum eats here". He was a favourite with children and was used by photographers to keep the children from moving during photos. Bum also had the civic duties of running in front of the fire-tankers when they would ring their bells. He would also keep the judge’s chair in the courthouse warm over lunch. He would travel on the ferry and train, and people would follow his travels in the newspapers. Once when he was injured by a horse, the people of the town could follow his recovery daily, as he was kept in a department store window. At the end of his life, he was given a home at the county hospital until he passed at 12 years of age. When Bum died, kids donated pennies at the department store for his funeral.

 

Bobby became famous in the 1870's, and Bum disembarked off a ship as a stow-away in 1886. San Diego and Edinburgh took on "sister city" status because of their two respective town dogs and gifted the other with a statue of these lovable dogs so now, both San Diego and Edinburgh have matching statues of both dogs. Each year ceremonies are held in both cities to commemorate the loyalty and love of Bum and Bobby.


Bum and Bobby were brother dogs. Bobby belonged to a policeman and stayed at the gravesite after the funeral ended. He would leave around 1 pm every day to beg for food, and he was a favourite of the children in the area who could not have a dog of their own. After Greyfriars Bobby passed, Bum was born.

 

If you want to learn more about the story of Bum and Bobby please visit: https://gaslampfoundation.org/bum-the-dog/

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