Lonely Planet could join Greyfriars Bobby campaign

Future Edinburgh guidebooks could include advice for tourists not to rub the nose of Greyfriars Bobby, a major publisher has said.
The Greyfriars Bobby statue at the junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row.The Greyfriars Bobby statue at the junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row.
The Greyfriars Bobby statue at the junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row.

The famous statue on George IV Bridge has become subject to a new tradition in recent years which sees people rubbing its muzzle for good luck.

But the seemingly innocent act has resulted in paint being worn away and the local authority having to repair the damage.

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A new campaign launched on Facebook shortly after this year’s festival season started, called Save Bobby’s Nose, discourages people from the act.

Now Lonely Planet has said it will highlight efforts to stop the trend with authors.

A spokesman for the guidebook publisher said: “We don’t currently advise travellers that there is any tradition of rubbing the nose for luck, but we’ll pass this information on to our editorial team and it will be flagged to the author when we compile the next edition of the relevant guide.”

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier who became known in the 19th-century for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of its owner, until dying in 1872.

A year later, a drinking fountain topped with Bobby’s statue was erected at the junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row to commemorate him.

The monument is now Edinburgh’s smallest listed building.

Conservation work took place in 2013 to the whole statue, but the nose required the most work.

Within two days it was vandalised with a corrosive substance, meaning somebody went out of their way to make his nose shiny again.

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A spokeswoman for the City of Edinburgh Council said: “While he enjoys attention from visitors and loves to have his photo taken, Bobby gets distressed when people rub his nose.

“It really does cause damage to the statue, which is why we urge people to be respectful.

“We always request the city’s statues and monuments are treated respectfully, and it’s great so many local people agree.”

Laverne Edmonds, of The Reel Edinburgh Tour, has been urging tourists to keep their hands off Bobby since starting the company in 2015.

She even has a whistle to stop nose-rubbers in their tracks if caught red-handed.

Ms Edmonds said: “I’m born and bred in Edinburgh and this has only been happening for the last four or five years.

“It’s something we’ve always felt very strongly about, but there’s now a real flurry of support.

“We always blow the whistle to get people to take their hands away.

“It’s all a bit of fun but it’s actually quite serious for the poor little thing.”