AFTER nearly 20 years of being lost, the remains of a famous dog buried in Peeblesshire have been recovered, thanks to a dedicated team.

David Hunter, from Edinburgh, and his team – formed of Paul MacDonald, Paul Aitken, George Gordon – spent the last 18 months tracking down the remains of the dog which played Greyfriar’s Bobby in the eponymous Disney film in 1961.

The team were battling against the clock as the land where Bobby had been buried in Dolphinton was earmarked for development.

Finding Bobby on Saturday, January 7 was a very emotional day for David and the team.

The 54-year-old IT manager told us: “It was absolutely wonderful.

“There were a few seconds of silence when the digger exposed the edge of the coffin.

“And I looked at George and he had a huge beaming smile. There was a lot of joy, and hugging each other.

“Then we became silent, I think we were all reflecting on things. I’m still in disbelief.”

Even after the film’s release, Bobby remained somewhat of a celebrity, and was given to chief constable Lothian and Borders Police Willie Merrilees – a friend of Walt Disney’s and who helped with the film.

Peeblesshire News: The team found Bobby and covered his coffin with a SaltireThe team found Bobby and covered his coffin with a Saltire (Image: David Hunter)

Bobby then joined the family of John Turner, one of Merrilees’ chief inspectors, and David’s uncle, in 1963.

David has fond memories of Bobby, describing him as a “placid and friendly” dog.

“But I have been reliably informed that in his younger days he could be quite feisty,” added David. “He was very intelligent.

“There’s a reason Disney chose him for the film.”

Merrilees owned The Nick at Dolphinton, a former Caledonian Railway station which he had converted into a holiday home. It was here that Bobby was buried after he died at the age of 17 in 1974. Bobby’s funeral was well attended on June 23, 1974, with VIPs and members of the public attending at The Nick.

A headstone was made for the grave, as well as a replica of the Greyfriar’s Bobby statue in Edinburgh.

Mr Merriless passed away in 1983, and in 2004 a subsequent owner of the land knocked down the house and sold the statue and headstone, much to the dismay of Dolphinton locals. Planning permission for houses was denied, and the land became overgrown.

But when David discovered that the local authority had granted planning permission to the site’s new owner – John Wilson, of West Linton – he jumped into action.

David said: “I made the call, and it was an awkward call to make.

“But he [John] was really taken with the story and the historical significance of the site.”

After speaking with the new owner David and his team were given the go-ahead to find Bobby.

Despite how unrecognisable the land had become from overgrown vegetation, thanks to tips from locals, David and the team tirelessly worked to find Bobby. And after two years of research, and 18 months of digging, Bobby is finally coming home.

Once the necessary legal steps have been taken, David and his team hope that Bobby will be reinterred in Greyfriar’s Church yard next to his namesake, the real Greyfriar’s Bobby.