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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.

Biography

He was raised in a scientific research facility, where he and Snitter are horribly mistreated. His drowning experiments by the whitecoats were the result of his cynical nature against humanity.

After another drowning experiment on Rowf, Snitter squeezes into his cage and they discover that his door is unlatched. 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.

Initially relieved and eager to experience their new freedom, the dogs are soon faced not only with the realities of life in the wild but with another more terrifying realization; they are being hunted by their former captors. They come to reluctantly befriend a fox known as The Tod in order to obtain food in the wild; they initially hunt domestic sheep grazing on the local hills. Snitter hopes for a new home as he once had a master, but he accidentally kills a farmer by stepping onto the trigger, losing hope. As time passes, the two dogs grow thin and bony, having to steal more and more food while still avoiding capture. The Tod assists them by killing a hunter; the man's corpse is set upon and eaten by the two dogs. As the three wander about aimlessly, the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment and the media are roped into the pursuit, driven by rumors of the two dogs carrying bubonic plague and murdering humans and sheep.

The Tod comes up with a plan to distract the hunters while Snitter and Rowf make a run for the train, but he eventually gets killed. Fortunately, the fox's distraction was long enough for the two dogs to make it to the sea. As they make it to Ravenglass, they are chased by the scientists in a helicopter until they reach the shoreline. As the army close in on the dogs, Snitter claims to see an island and starts to swim and Rowf reluctantly follows. The dogs swim in a mist, but they can't see the island. Snitter is about to accept death until Rowf claims to see the island and urges Snitter to keep paddling as they disappear behind the mist.

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. Hot Bottle Bill and the Under Secretary want to shoot the dogs, but Major Rose and Digby Driver confront them and tell them that it's illegal to use guns near a nature reserve. They leave in their car as Rowf chases them away. 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 they 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.

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 a fisherman, where they are happily reunited with Snitter's owner.
  • In the book, he mentions a deity known as the "Star Dog", a god that created the world and is no match against humanity.
  • Jeremy Irons was considered for the role of Rowf.

Navigation

           Nepenthe logo Heroes

Movies
Watership Down: Hazel | Fiver | Bigwig | Pipkin | Blackberry | Kehaar | Campion
The Plague Dogs: Rowf | Snitter | The Tod | Alan Wood | Lynn Driver | Stephen Powell

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