Two Skye Terriers by Christine Merrill
L: Ch. Gleanntan Genuine Risk - "Ramona"
R: Ch. Gleanntan Grizzabella - "Casey"

Skye Terriers In History

There have been numerous references to the presence of Skye Terriers throughout history from the crofts on the Isle of Skye to the Drawing Rooms of England. References below capture some of the most famous Skye Terriers in history.

The Story of Greyfriars Bobby

In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard. His grave leveled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; but, although no human interest seemed to attach to it.

The sacred spot was not wholly disregarded and forgotten. For fourteen years the dead man's faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872. James Brown, the old curator of the burial ground, remembers Gray's funeral, and the dog, a Skye terrier called "Bobby", was, he says, one of the most conspicuous of the mourners. The grave was closed in as usual, and next morning "Bobby", was found, lying on the newly-made mound.

This was an innovation which old James could not permit, for there was an order at the gate stating in the most intelligible characters that dogs were not admitted. "Bobby" was accordingly driven out; but next morning he was there again, and for the second time was discharged. The third morning was cold
and wet, and when the old man saw the faithful animal, in spite

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of all chastisement, still lying shivering on the grave, he took pity on him, and gave him some food. This recognition of his devotion gave "Bobby" the right to make the churchyard his home; and from that time until his own death he never spent a night away from his master's tomb.

Often in bad weather attempts were made to keep him within doors, but by dismal howls he succeeded in making it known that this interference was not agreeable to him, and he was always allowed to have his way. At almost any time during the day he could be seen in or about the churchyard, and no matter how rough the night, nothing could induce him to forsake that hallowed spot, whose identity he so faithfully preserved.

That, however, concludes the story of the life of Greyfriars Bobby, a life which was later commemorated by the erection of the statue and fountain by Baroness Burdett Coutts. The figure which was unveiled, without any ceremony, on November 15, 1873.

From the Greyfriars Bobby Web site:

In 1961, Disney made a movie based on this famous story. Watch the 2-minute movie trailer below.

The section below is excerpted from: Downey, F. Dogs of Destiny (1949), NY, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons

It was Mary Stuart's last day on earth. Even beyond the faithful few of her court who shared her imprisonment, dogs had been Mary's solace, along with the doves, which perched on her window sill. "My only pleasure", she declared, "is in all the little dogs I can get." A small Skye Terrier was the Queen's favorite.

With unwavering courage, still beautiful at forty-five, Mary mounted the scaffold. The headsman, black-clad and masked, knelt and begged her forgiveness and she gave it with all her heart. Then she sank to her knees before the block. No sooner had she done so than a shaggy form crept forward unnoticed. The Skye Terrier, as if he feared being driven away, swiftly hid beneath his mistress's skirts.

Down flashed the ax. The Skye crawled forth from his concealment and crouched between the Queen's severed head and shoulders. He would not move until one of Mary's ladies gathered him up, covered with blood, and carried him away. Though he did not survive his mistress long, but pined away, he still lives in history's pages.

The sections which follow are excerpted from: Brearley, J. & Nicholas, A. This is The Skye Terrier (1975), Neptune City, NJ: T. F. H. Publications

It was about 1842 that Queen Victoria discovered the Skye Terrier and the breed became an almost instant favorite with her. Her interest in Skye Terriers made them widely desired by others of England's social world. The Queen's special favorite is said to have been a little dog called Boz that was her constant companion and always at her heels. Queen Victoria also bred Skyes, and the royal kennel at Windsor housed a number of the highest type and quality specimens of the breed. 

The poet and story-teller Robert Louis Stevenson was also a great lover of the Skye Terrier. He had a dog called Wattie who was originally a stray that the author took to his home near Bournemouth. Wattie was the king in the Stevenson household for six years and battled the birds and the cats of the Skerryvore neighborhood.