Make room for forgotten dog statue, say One O’Clock Gun Association

HE is America’s answer to Greyfriars Bobby – a legendary hound who fought and drank with the best of them in 19th-century San Diego.

Bum the dog lost part of his right foot under a train following a tussle with another pooch, but he became so popular he dined at the Californian city’s best bars and restaurants.

The Capital – twinned with San Diego – was gifted a statue of the shaggy St Bernard-spaniel cross four years ago which is placed in King’s Stables Road.

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But now members of the One O’Clock Gun Association have claimed Bum’s unique story is not receiving the attention it deserves and are calling for the statue to be moved to a more prominent position.

Association secretary George Robinson said: “It looks neglected and should be moved – nobody notices it.”

He said he had lodged a request with Edinburgh World Heritage for the statue to be moved, with the popular Grassmarket cited as one possible new home.

“They could not have picked a worse spot for the statue than where it is now.”

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“I see people pass the gate and turn round to take a look but they just can’t get a handle on it. It’s too low on the ground and gets covered by dead leaves, rubbish, even tin cans, when the wind blows.”

Mr Robinson, below, said moving the statue could even benefit local school pupils.

He said: “If it were to be near a school or somewhere more prominent, the kids would get into the story.

“Apparently, the dog was drunk a lot of the time because people in bars in the city would give it booze, and it would get into fights.

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“If kids see it and you tell them the story of the dog’s life, they’ll have an idea of what drink does to you. It would be good for them to see how the dog got into a bad way through alcohol.”

Mr Robinson said he would be pushing for the Grassmarket to be considered. “It’s the one place I would think of as a good location for the statue,” he said. “It needs somewhere like that – somewhere it could be elevated a bit so people can actually see it and learn about what happened to the dog.”

Grassmarket traders have said they would welcome the canine hobo with open arms.

Fawns Reid, owner of hat specialist Fabhatrix and chair of the new Greater Grassmarket business improvement district, said: “It would help build relations between Edinburgh and San Diego.

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“Just because he’s a bum dog doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong in the Grassmarket.

“The Grassmarket is, after all, a quirky and interesting place and I think the story of Bum would add to that rich tapestry.”

She said a new home could be found for Bum in the Grassmarket’s West Port garden – currently being developed as a new community space.

She added: “If it was put right in the middle of the Grassmarket, the statue might be attacked. I would say the location for a statue like that needs to be natural and prominent, but not somewhere vulnerable.”

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Mr Robinson insisted that finding a more prominent spot for California’s favourite dog would not threaten the status of the Capital’s own canine superstar. “Greyfriars Bobby is the most famous dog in the world and that won’t ever change, but I think people in Edinburgh would agree Bum’s statue does not have the location it deserves.”

Shaggy dog story: the story of Bum

ACCORDING to tradition, Bum was born in San Francisco on July 3, 1886, and came to San Diego six months later as a stowaway aboard the Santa Rosa steamer.

For several days after arriving he roamed the streets of the Californian city before taking up bed and board with a Chinese fisherman.

Months later, while loafing in the yards of the Santa Fe Company, he got into a fight with a bulldog and both rolled under the wheels of a passing engine.

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The bulldog was killed outright, and Bum suffered the loss of his right forefoot, as well as a horrific stomach wound.

Despite the injuries, Bum survived and continued wandering the streets of San Diego, becoming one of the city’s best-loved residents.

He was welcomed even in the finest society and a place in the city’s best eateries – and taverns – was always made ready

for him.

Journalists and writers from San Diego said Bum’s celebrity status was due to his insatiable curiosity, good-natured personality and unfailing sense of camaraderie.