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I'll fight before I'm killed!
~ Rowf.

Rowf is one of the two main protagonists (alongside Snitter) of Richard Adams' 1977 book The Plague Dogs, and its 1982 animated film adaptation. He is a black mongrel who was raised in a research facility and has hydrophobia as a result of his experiments. He and Snitter escape the lab and are forced to survive in the wilds with the help of a fox known as The Tod.

He was voiced by Christopher Benjamin.

Personality

How can anything be good in a place like this?
~ Rowf expressing his pessimism.

Because of his water immersion experiments performed by the whitecoats and not having any kind master, Rowf became extremely pessimistic and had a cynical view of humanity as a result. The drowning experiments he endured were also the result of him developing a crippling fear of water. He acts realistic and believes that Snitter's hopes of finding a caring and kind master are futile. Rowf's behavior in the novel is more wrathful and aggressive and he states that he hates all humans.

When he and Snitter met the Tod, Rowf was accurate to believe that the fox was an untrustworthy creature who takes advantage of them in order to get a meal, even driving him away for selfishly eating a nest of chicken eggs by himself. However, after the Tod returned and saved him and Snitter from a hunter hired by the whitecoats to kill them, Rowf began to trust the Tod more and apologized for driving him away.

When he and Snitter were cornered on a shoreline by the military, Rowf reluctantly heads out to sea with Snitter to find the island and to avoid getting killed. When Snitter began to lose hope, Rowf finally felt a sense of hope and urged Snitter to keep swimming on. After they were rescued in the book, Rowf let go of his hatred of humans and went to live on a happy life with Snitter's master.

Biography

Rowf was raised in a scientific research facility, where he and Snitter are tortured for experimental purposes. His drowning experiments by the whitecoats were the result of his cynical nature against humanity as well as his fear of water.

After another drowning experiment on Rowf, Snitter squeezes into his cage and they discover that his door is unlatched after the tobacco man forgot to properly secure his cage. They explore the facility in order to escape until they sneak into an incinerator. While Snitter starts to dream about his master, the two dogs realize that they're about to be burned as the scientists prepare to start up the incinerator before they narrowly escape.

As they explore the countryside of the Lake District, Snitter tries to introduce Rowf to the good life of having a master, to no avail. Afterwards, the two dogs decide to become wild animals in order to survive and rely on a fox known as the Tod to hunt for food, while also evading the local farmers trying to kill them. After Snitter accidentally kills a local businessman, Rowf searches for Snitter and finally manages to find him after two days, to which the latter blames himself for everything.

The two dogs later come across a shop and scavenge its dustbins. The shopkeepers drive Rowf away and they capture Snitter. Rowf comes back with assistance from the Tod and they both manage to free Snitter before the police and the whitecoats could catch him. Meanwhile, the government sends a reporter named Digby Driver (Lynn Driver in the film) to investigate and he learns from the scientist who tried to retrieve Snitter that a former Nazi scientist working for the testing facility is working on bubonic plague. Digby Driver decides to blackmail the scientist into revealing details about his experiments and spreads rumors about the two dogs carrying the plague.

One night, Rowf drives the Tod away after the latter greedily eats on a nest of chicken eggs by himself and decides to go into the nearby farm to get them a chicken, despite the Tod's warnings not to go in there. The two dogs are caught by the farmers and are nearly killed, but the farmers reluctantly decide to spare them and the two dogs flee before the farmers contact the authorities to report the incident. During a snowstorm, the dogs begin to starve and they raid a bank clerk's groceries. As the dogs wander aimlessly across the Lake District, they are pursued by the bank clerk (a hunter hired by the whitecoats in the film). The Tod comes back and manages to save the two dogs as the hunter tries to shoot Rowf, but only succeeds in shooting off his collar. The two dogs scavenge the hunter's corpse and the body is later found by the authorities.

As the two dogs and the Tod wander across the countryside to find the sea, they realize that the army are out to kill the dogs. The Tod distracts the army dogs long enough for the pair to sneak onto a train to Ravenglass, but gets killed in the process. When the two dogs arrive at Ravenglass, a helicopter spots them and a chase is ensued throughout the town until they are cornered at a beach. As the army closes in on them, Rowf declares that he won't let them take him back to the research station and Snitter claims to see an island across the sea. Snitter heads out to sea and Rowf is hesitant to follow, but he gathers the courage to swim in order to escape the army as the soldiers shoot at them. The two dogs are engulfed in a fog and Snitter begins to tire. Rowf urges Snitter to keep swimming and the latter states that there isn't any island, but Rowf claims to see the island and encourages Snitter to follow him as they continue swimming.

Fate

In the book, they were eventually rescued by two naturalists named Peter Scott and Ronald Lockley and Rowf finally let go of his grudge against humanity and began to trust them after being rescued from drowning. When they got back to land, they were finally reunited with Snitter's long-lost owner. When Hot Bottle Bill and the Under Secretary arrive to have the dogs shot, Digby Driver, who had redeemed himself and helped Mr. Wood find the two dogs, threatened to give them a bad reputation and they flee as Rowf chases after them. Mr. Wood and the two dogs then head for home as Digby Driver and Major Rose help them on the way.

In the film, it is implied that the pair drowned and found peace in death as their suffering finally ended. This was the original ending of the book until the readers requested the author to alter his ending. An island is shown, possibly as a metaphor for the afterlife.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Richard Adams was originally going to include Rowf and Snitter's deaths in the book, but the readers insisted that he'd spare them, so he included them getting rescued by two real-life naturalists named Peter Scott and Ronald Lockley, where they are happily reunited with Snitter's owner.
  • In the book, he tells Snitter and the Tod of a story about a deity known as the "Star Dog", a god that created the world and its inhabitants.
  • Jeremy Irons was considered for the role of Rowf.

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