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Star in tribute to Edinburgh’s great canine son... is a lassie

David Ewing, Ruby and the Greyfriars Bobby statue. Picture: Ian Rutherford

David Ewing, Ruby and the Greyfriars Bobby statue. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by JOHN-PAUL HOLDEN
 

A LOOK-a-like dog has been chosen to represent the Capital’s most famous canine son at a Greyfriars Bobby tribute event.

However, there is one major difference between Bobby and his doppelganger – “he” is in fact a she.

Ruby, a Patterdale terrier, will follow in the footsteps of the world-renowned dog at next week’s Greyfriars Bobby commemoration day.

Ruby’s owner says she is perfect for the job.

Like Bobby, her life story has been tainted by sadness, and the path to celebrity has been far from smooth.

The three-year-old former stray was found abandoned on the streets of the Capital two years ago and handed to the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.

Despite arriving in very poor health and almost bald in patches, Ruby quickly won over the heart of home manager David Ewing, who took her in to his own home and made her part of his family.

He said: “She’s a brilliant little dog and it’s great she’s doing this. Unless you look really closely, there’s no way you’d tell she was a girl.”

Ruby’s selection comes only months after the death from cancer of Blue the Yorkshire terrier – star of many tribute ceremonies to Greyfriars Bobby and later named mascot of the One O’Clock Gun Association.

Mr Ewing, 55, who has worked at the Dog and Cat Home for 38 years, said Ruby was chosen after he was contacted by commemoration day organisers.

A celebration of the life of the iconic Skye terrier, the event will feature a special performance of Tribute To Greyfriars Bobby – composed for the occasion by world pipe-band champion, Jennifer SR Hutcheon.

Mr Ewing said: “We were asked if we could produce a dog along similar lines to Greyfriars Bobby, but all of our dogs are big Labrador and collie crosses at the moment – and we thought Ruby fitted the bill.

“She was due to have her hair cut, but I decided to wait until after the event next week so she looks a bit more masculine and au naturale.”

Little is known about how long Ruby had survived as a stray before being delivered to staff at the dog and cat home.

Mr Ewing said his “alert and bright” pet had become a treasured member of the family after he and his wife, Valerie, 56, decided to take her in.

“Ruby was just handed over the counter one day as a stray by a member of the public who found her wandering about,” he said. “Her health wasn’t good. She had a bad skin problem and really wasn’t looking her best when she first came in. She was completely bald round about her face and tummy.”

He revealed the plucky dog also helped him and his wife pull through their own heartache.

“It just so happened that our family pet had passed away a few months previously,” he said. “We had also just gone through a family bereavement when my father died.

“I told my wife we had a little dog at the home that needed to be cared for. Her immediate response was to say, ‘no way – we’re not keeping it’. But surprise, surprise, she was won over.”

News that Ruby has been chosen to appear at the commemoration day was welcomed by the One O’Clock Gun Association’s secretary, George Robinson, who said: “It’s absolutely great to see another dog coming in to represent Bobby – especially as Ruby’s a girl.

“These days it’s all about equality and this dog is a great example of that.”

Lord Provost Donald Wilson, who will attend the ceremony, added: “Her presence will be a poignant reminder that there are sadly still many abandoned animals in need of a loving home in this city.”

BLUE MADE PART HIS OWN

RUBY has a hard act to follow in Bombardier Blue.

The much-loved Yorkshire terrier became a celebrity after mastering the art of laying a wreath at the grave of Greyfriars Bobby.

His fame hit greater heights when he was made a mascot of the One O’Clock Gun Association and learned to use his nose to fire a mini-replica of Edinburgh Castle’s famous cannon.

Blue, pet of Kit and John Lovie from North Berwick, was made a Bombardier (Corporal) by 105 Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) in 2010.

However, he died of cancer last September.

 

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