This is the story of  King’s Cross Bob,  a dog who brought joy to a community (actually to an entire city) throughout the Great Depression. The Sydney tabloid Smith’s Weekly paid tribute to him in April 1940.

Yes, the ‘retired gentleman’ was a famous, aging fox terrier.  The Tasmanian village was Cygnet, and the man who facilitated the dog’s escape to the Apple Isle was Hobart born Frederick Thompson. But what was the story behind the newspaper’s toast to Bob?

King’s Cross Bob was  large for his breed. He  became homeless after the death of his owner around 1928. He refused to transfer his loyalty to another person, but was adored by the  community of the raffish Sydney suburb known colloquially  as The Cross.’

Originally dubbed  Ratty, because he paid his way killing rodents, he was given a pied-de-terre  at the multi-storey Hampton Court Flats in Darlinghurst Road..  He didn’t make use of it that often because, like many human inhabitants of King’s Cross, when night fell he had mysterious places to go and things to do. 😎

King's Cross Bob had free lodgings at the Hampton Court Flats.

Bob’s nominal address was C./O Hampton Court Flats, on the left.

Bob’s  terrier instincts  eventually  got him into trouble and he was ‘arrested’ for chasing motor bike riders. To made matters worse, a pedestrian tripped over him. His punishment was banishment to  the King Edward Dogs Home at Waterloo. He was just one among many at Waterloo, which did not suit him at all.  Within a week he had managed to sneak back home, much to everyone’s relief.

Not bad for ‘ordinary’ dogs, but horrible for King’s Cross Bob.

Life went on. and as admirers began to spoil him with choice chops, sausages and, sad to say, sweets, Bob became a bit too plump to catch rats …… or anything else for that matter.

He  was given a huge birthday party by the R.S,P.C.A when he turned eight, in December 1936. Mind you, I’m not sure how they knew how old he was. The event was held on an oval across the harbour  at Gordon, and  preparations had began weeks in advance;

The R.S.P.C.A. dog’s gymkhana to be held on December 5 will be a great day out for all pets because it will celebrate the eighth birthday of  Kings Cross Bob, the dog who is washed, fed, and cared for by many people who live in the district.  A cake with eight candles will be made for Bob, and every dog who comes to the party will wear a jazz cap and be presented with a slice of cake. An enthusiastic meeting held at the Hotel Australia decided to make the birthday party the North Shore’s  contribution to the work of the R.S,P.C.A..  (Sydney Morning Herald Oct. 31 1936,}

His  portrait was painted for the occasion, and a birthday photograph was taken in the grounds of Lulworth House in neighbouring Elizabeth Bay. Lulworth  was the palatial home of socialite and admirer of Bob, Mrs Victor White.  It’s worth noting that the terrier was comfortable in every strata of society. He was loved by everyone, from the homeless of The Cross. to wealthy residents of surrounding suburbs such as Point Piper. Potts Point and  Elizabeth Bay.


King's Cross Bob at Lulworth House. Elizabeth Bay.

Birthday Bob in the grounds of Lulworth House with  R.S.P.C.A. volunteers.

As guest of honour Bob arrived  at his party wearing a blue bow tie and a sombrero labelled  ‘I’m the sheik‘.

Bob is pictured second from the right.

Such was his fame by now that following the party he was ‘interviewed’  by a journalist  from  the tabloid rag Smith’s Weekly.  The following is one of the illustrations from the lengthy piece.

It was no surprise that  Bob, who  had a habit of  peeping through keyholes, said  he had seen sights around The Cross  to curl his hair. A less honourable creature could have made a fortune through blackmail!


Oh my God!

One local resident who managed to win at least a piece of  the terrier’s  heart was hotel broker Frederick  Thompson, who took on the job of giving Bob a weekly bath.


Whenever Fred went up-country  on business he would take the dog with him. The trips provided a welcome change of air  for King’s Cross Bob after the noise and  fumes of the inner  city.  On one occasion the pair spent the day in Wingham, over 200 miles to the north.  There was definitely a bond between them, No matter for thick the traffic was back in Sydney, Bob was able to distinguish the horn of Fred’s car.

By now Bob’s fame  had spread interstate.  A delightful photo of him  appeared in The Argus (Melbourne) on Jan, 1 1938.

King's Cross Bob

In the winter of 1938, due to some misadventure, Bob was found by the R.S;P.C.A wandering along with his head cut open.  He was rushed off to a private dog’s hospital in Rose Bay, where  thankfully he made a full recovery. (The Sun, July 27 1938)

An injured KIng's Cross Bob

In the wars., A bandaged Bob. (Sun Newspaper)

Most of Bob’s health problems came from the misguided  kindness of the public. He was constantly given cakes and chocolates,  which would lead  to veterinary visits  and  periods of in-house care. As he aged he was less able to tolerate such an unhealthy diet.   It was the major factor in his move to Tasmania, which some saw as simply dog-napping!




  1. What a delightful story! Have shared with my friends and can’t wait for part 2 – this email listing never fails to deliver. Here’s another delightful series of Bob dogs, also terriers doing great services to the public:

    What a marvelous coincidence 🙂

    • Pauline

      Thanks Pearl. The second part has been published now. There’s a link to it at the bottom of the first part, 😃

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