I love all animals, but I have a special fondness for dogs. One of the most profound dog stories I have ever heard was about a Skye terrier who became known as “Greyfriars Bobby”. Bobby lived in Edinburgh, Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century. His master, John Gray, was a constable. Bobby used to follow his master on his rounds, and obviously, a very special bond developed between the two. Sadly, within a few years, John was struck with tuberculosis and died, and Bobby watched as his dearest friend was buried in the graveyard of the Greyfriars Church.

When the funeral was over and it came time for everyone to go, Bobby refused to leave the resting place of his master. No amount of coaxing could get Bobby to give up his post, and except for a short dinner break once a day, Bobby stayed by John’s side until he himself breathed his last 14 years later! When Bobby passed away, he was buried near his friend. The local citizenry was so moved by the dog’s devotion that they erected a statue of Bobby across from the church. Hearing Bobby’s story made an indelible impression on me and I hoped to visit the statue one day. This past October my hope was fulfilled, but the circumstances were quite different from anything I ever imagined!

While I was in England to attempt my 100th record on the Richard and Judy Show, I learned of a new category Guinness had just established – most jumps on a pogo stick in one minute. The minimum number that Guinness would accept was set at 173, and I was pretty confident I could reach that number without too much difficulty. On that same trip, I happened to be talking to the editor of the Guinness Book, Craig Glenday, for whom I have tremendous admiration. Craig is Scottish, and he was joking with me, saying that I break records all over the world, so why not in his bonnie Scotland?  He suggested the Edinburgh Castle as a possible venue, and I promised him I would look into it. Unfortunately, the Castle was booked the only weekend I was free. Joyfully, I thought of the Greyfriars Bobby statue as an alternative. I could attempt the new pogo stick record there and, since it was only for a minute, I probably wouldn’t even need a permit!

However, there was one problem and, it was a problem I don’t often encounter. Sri Chinmoy, my spiritual teacher, has taught me the value of using inner strength to overcome obstacles, and frankly, this record would be just too easy! So, in the spirit of self-transcendence, I racked my brains for a way to make the attempt more challenging! Nothing came to mind, so I decided to meditate on it. An inspiration came to me, but it was so funny that, for the first time ever, I ended my meditation laughing out loud!

When I told my friends about my plan, most thought it might be a disaster and strongly advised me against it. When I told Craig Glenday about it, there was stunned silence on the other end of the phone; and then he very sincerely muttered, “That’s bizarre”. But my mind was made up. I would attempt to do the most jumps on a pogo stick in a minute at the Greyfriars Bobby statue, but I would not be alone. I would pogo stick- while holding on to a small dog!

Of course, my main concern was that the dog might be uncomfortable, but I knew there would be very little jarring, because in order to do so many jumps in one minute, I would have to stay close to the ground. Also, to give the animal more security, I would gently strap the dog in a knapsack on to the front of my body. With only about a week to go before the attempt, I needed to test out my theory on a live dog right away. Fortunately, my neighbor, Anita, is the proud owner of two energetic Yorkies, and she was willing to go along with the experiment.

One of Anita’s Yorkies, Lily, was much too “hyper”, but Munchy seemed to be the right dog for the job. Munchy was accustomed to being carried around in a knapsack by Anita’s kids, so it was no big deal when I strapped Munchy on and hopped on to my pogo stick. With his tiny head sticking out of the backpack, Munchy looked adorable! In order to prevent the little fellow from bouncing around too much, I had to hold on to the knapsack with one hand, which meant I had only my other hand free to stabilize the pogo stick. Still, with Anita’s friends and family videotaping and cheering us on, I was able to bounce more than 190 times before the minute elapsed. Munchy seemed happy and unfazed by the whole experiment, not realizing he had just ventured where no dog had ever gone before!

Munchy had earned the right to share the official record attempt with me, but as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take Munchy to Scotland. I immediately sent out a small dog alert to my friends in Edinburgh. Janaka and Janani knew of a good candidate, but they were sure Puffy’s owner would never go for it. Harashita, who works in public relations, wanted to initiate a citywide contest to be advertised in all the newspapers, but we eventually nixed the idea. It would be too heartbreaking to turn all those cute non-winning dogs away! The Stotts, who own a popular running store, were bold enough to ask all their customers. I was hoping for a dog in Munchy’s range – around 10 pounds or so – but the only dog volunteered for the attempt was a hefty 28 pounds.

Time was running out, so my friend, Vinaya, and I prepared for the possibility of a heavier dog. With 30 pounds of metal plate weights in a knapsack, I jumped on the pogo and- immediately flipped over backwards on to the hard concrete! Not to be deterred by a few scrapes and bruises, I tried again and, with the utmost difficulty, managed to do 178 jumps while straining my back in the process. Well, I was looking for a challenge and I surely got one!

Fortunately, three days before the attempt, another Scottish friend, Uranta, came to my rescue. When he heard about my predicament, he took out the Edinburgh yellow pages and began calling dog groomers in search of any small adventurous dogs. Now you have to admit, that takes a lot of courage! Amazingly enough, he found a kind, fun-loving lady, Joan Carruthers, who was willing to let her 14-pound dog be a “guinea pig” for a day! Her dog’s name was Suki and she turned out to be a real character – that is the dog, not Joan!

Photo: Uranta and Joan

When my buddies, Bipin and Vinaya, and I arrived in Edinburgh, we were impressed with how friendly the people were. Joan was no exception. The day before the record attempt, we visited Joan’s home in the suburbs. There were dogs running all around the apartment, having a ball. Joan let me play with Suki out in the backyard and within minutes I was chasing after Suki, tumbling through the grass and having a wild game of tug of war. Suki was a terror, and when I strapped her on to practice the pogo stick jumping, she was as happy as a lark. Everything looked rosy, but we were unaware of one crucial detail.

On the day of the record attempt, the media came out in full force, and there were quite a few curious spectators gathered as well. Suki, the star of the show, arrived, but I immediately noticed something different about her. She seemed shy and reserved, and she didn’t want to be out of Joan’s sight for a second. What I didn’t know was that Suki had hardly ever come into the city, and all the traffic and noise made her a little nervous and insecure. Anyway, after a while, Suki seemed to acclimate to the commotion. We put Suki into her special doggie pouch and I hopped onto my trusty pogo stick. With the signal “go”, the timers started their stopwatches and the other officials began clicking away on their hand-held counters.


It was a breeze until about halfway through. Suddenly, Suki became nervous again and started squirming in the pouch, trying to leap away towards Joan who was standing nearby. It was all I could do to cradle Suki close to me with one arm, maintain my speed and balance on the pogo stick with the other arm, while all the time desperately trying to avoid bouncing off the sloping sidewalk into the street. It was only a minute, but it felt like an hour!  Fortunately, I was able to achieve 206 jumps to set the new record and Suki became her normal tail-wagging, face-licking, exuberant self once she was safely back in Joan’s arms!


Okay, I realize that the event was a bit unusual, but it was awesome fun and it showed me what good hearts the people of Edinburgh have. After the record, total strangers recognized me and came up to me on the street, in restaurants, and in the airport and were genuinely happy that I had succeeded. It gave me a lot of joy to connect with these wonderful folks, but it also made me realize how exceptional Greyfriar Bobby’s 14-year vigil must have been. Judging by their descendents, the people back then must have been deeply moved and inspired by Bobby’s devotion, and Bobby must have surely had a whole community of loving friends to comfort him.