Adapted from: True Animal Tales, by Rolf Harris

Over a hundred years ago, a stray puppy named Bobby adopted an elderly Scottish shepherd, known to his friends as Auld Jock. The two of them went everywhere together and became the best of friends.

Sadly, when Bobby was just two years old, Auld Jock died and for the next fourteen years, the faithful, loving dog guarded his master’s grave.

Just once a day he would leave and find his way to Traill’s restaurant where the kind owner fed him but Bobby would never stay there. Instead, he always took the food back to the cemetery. Sometimes local children came to see Bobby and they would happily play among the gravestones until the children went home and Bobby would return to his master’s last resting place.

Little did Bobby know that his own life was under threat. In Victorian times, people who owned dogs had to pay a special tax otherwise the dog would be put to sleep. There was no one to pay Bobby’s tax and it was up to judges to decide what would happen to the little dog.

But when Bobby’s tale was told in court, the judges were so impressed by his loyalty to Auld Jock that they decided Bobby must live! Local people got together and paid the tax and even built a shelter at the graveside so Bobby could keep warm through the cold Scottish winters. When he died of old age, Bobby was buried beside his beloved master, so the two of them could be together forever.

• Which of these words do you think best describes Bobby?
Devoted, obedient, loving, enthusiastic, friendly, loyal, trustworthy, dutiful, naughty, unwilling, impatient, kind. You can use a dictionary to check their meanings.

• Can you find any other words that mean loyal? Write a sentence to describe Bobby, using any three of the above words.

• Who is your best friend? Write a sentence to describe your best friend.

• How would you like your friend to describe you?

• Write a sentence to describe yourself.

When there was no one to pay Bobby’s tax, the city judges had to decide whether Bobby would have to be put to sleep. However, you have been chosen to defend Bobby in court and you must put forward an argument that will save his life.

Write a list below of all the reasons Bobby should be allowed to live.

1. Bobby never causes any trouble.
4. He is a favourite with the local children.
6. Traill’s restaurant feeds Bobby.

Write your argument as a speech. Present your case to the class.

What would you have written on Bobby’s gravestone when he was buried beside his master?

The class could be split with one group making the case for Bobby and one making a case against him. Another group could be the jury and you could be the judge.