Scottish Terriers in Stories and Fables

'Auld Jock' with 'Greyfriar's Bobby'Auld Jock' with 'Greyfriar's Bobby

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, stories abounded across English speaking countries about small dogs, often Scottich Terriers. Here we feature 3 of these stories - a Cairn 'To-To' from America, a Skye 'Bobby' from Scotland and a Scottish Terrier 'Scotty' from Australia.

'To-To', the Cairn Terrier from 'The Wizard of Oz' created in USA

Judy Garland with 'Toto'Judy Garland with 'Toto'

'To-To' was a Cairn terrier belonging to the fictional character, Dorothy Gale first created by American author L. Frank Baum for his classic 1900 children's novel 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'. In 1939, this was adapted into the famous MGM film. Dorothy was played by 16-year-old Judy Garland for which she won an Academy Juvenile Award.

But for many dog lovers, it was 'Terry' who was cast to play the role of 'Toto', stole the show! 'Terry' starred in 13 films in all, but 'Toto' was her most famous role. Judy Garland wanted to keep 'Terry' after 'The Wizard of Oz' was completed, but although her owner refused, her call name was subsequently changed to 'Toto'.

Greyfriars Bobby StatueGreyfriars Bobby Statue

'Bobby', the Skye Terrier alias 'Greyfriar's Bobby' created in Scotland

'Greyfriar's Bobby', was born in 1856. Owned by a policeman, John Gray they patrolled the pens of the cattle market in Edinburgh. Sadly, John Grey alias 'Auld Jock' died of tuberculous in 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars churchyard.

For the next 14 years, Bobby kept vigil on his master's grave. Fed by the Traill family who also owned a restaurant, later he slept at their house where he finally died.

'Bobby' on John Gray's grave'Bobby' on John Gray's grave

At first John Gray had an unmarked grave. In 1873, Baroness Burdett-Coutts had a headstone erected, complete with Bobby's statue sitting on top of a drinking fountain. The statue depicts him an early type Skye Terrier. Today it stands outside a Hotel near the famous kirkyard[1].

The 'Greyfriar's Bobby' legend was perpetuated by the 1912 story by Eleanor Atkinson. This sparked the Walt Disney film, 'Greyfriars Bobby' which included fables like Bobby being made a "Freeman of the City" and wearing a collar inscribed: "Greyfriars Bobby. From Lord Provost, 1867 Licensed".

'Scotty in Gumnut Land' created in Australia

'Scotty in Gumnutland''Scotty in Gumnutland'

May Gibbs, Australia's first female cartoonist, created the character, 'Scotty', based on the companion dogs May kept in her later life. Born in 1877, May immigrated to Australia at an early age. The daughter of an artist, May was an only child who spent much of her young life observing the beauty of the Australian bush. Her wild imagination created the wonderfully idyllic place she called 'Gumnut Land'. Its occupants included not only characters like koala bears, but also various 'Gumnut Fairies', her most famous being 'Snugglepot' and Cuddlepie' who lived within the gumnuts of  gum trees.

5 'Gumnut Fairies are featured in the attached picture looking at 'Scotty'. This charming book is about a Scottish Terier dog who runs away from home and finds himself in Gumnut Land where meets many new friends including Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. There were 2 of the characters that May Gibbs made famous throughout her series of books, who lived in Gumnut Land.

In 1955, May Gibbs was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) in acknowledgement of her important contribution to Australian children's literature.

References and Further Reading

[1] Sine Threlfall, 'The World of Dogs Skye Terrier' Published by Kingdom Books England 1995, ISBN 85279009-1 Part 1 'A British Background ' Page 14