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I'm inside my head now, and it's where I should be.
~ Snitter hallucinating.

Snitter is one of the two main protagonists (alongside Rowf) of Richard Adams' 1977 book The Plague Dogs, and its 1982 animated film adaptation. He is a fox terrier who once had a kind and loving master named Alan Wood until he was hit by a car and was sold to a scientific research facility, where scientists experiment on his brain. He and Rowf escape the lab and have to survive in the wild with the help of a fox known as The Tod.

He was voiced by the late John Hurt, who also played Hazel from the 1978 film Watership Down, and Winston Smith from the 1984 adaptation of George Orwell's Ninteen Eighty-Four.

Personality

I can't come out. If I do, I'll go mad again.
~ Snitter convinced that he will go crazy if he leaves his hallucinations.
Snitter is an optimistic, hopeful and kind dog who cares about masters. During his life with his master, he lived happily and was very playful, such as chasing cats and running around the neighborhood. Whenever he was mistreated by his master's sister, Annie Mossity, he still acted politely towards her, even if she wasn't around, because his master wanted him to act kindly around anyone.

After his master was run over, Annie Mossity sold him to the whitecoats, leaving him to believe that he killed his master. After his vivisection experiments, he frequently had hallucinations, usually at the sight of his master and suffered from seizures, such as having flies and a mouse in his head as well as having constant raining in one eye. Whenever Rowf felt doubtful about anything good or having a decent master, Snitter encouraged Rowf to not give up. His hallucinations do occasionally predict something, such as when he told Rowf that the door of his kennel wasn't a wall anymore.

When he and Rowf meet the Tod, he agreed to make a deal with him in exchange to help them survive in the wilderness and could understand his Geordie accent, even imitating it at times. Even in spite of the Tod's greedy behavior, he still relied on him to help them survive and understood his self-serving reasons.

Throughout the story, his chances of finding a master were in vain and he gradually became less optimistic. After he accidentally killed a businessman with his rifle, he believed that everything unfortunate comes from his head and the world would end if he was killed. When he was captured by the Dawsons, he hallucinated at the sight of being at home and refused to come out when Rowf and the Tod warned him, because he was convinced that he would go mad until he caught the smell of the whitecoats and fled the shed with the help of the Tod.

When he and Rowf were being pursued by the military, he went too crazy to realize what was going on and even forgot that they were being pursued. After the Tod was killed, he rested on the shores of Ravenglass with Rowf with the army chasing them and told him to wake him up when the Tod returns, unaware that the Tod was actually dead. When the army closed in on them, he imagined an island across the sea and swam out to escape the soldiers with Rowf. When he began exhausting himself, he confessed that there wasn't any real island and nearly fell into despair until Rowf claimed to see the island and urged him to keep swimming.

Biography

He was found by a local solicitor named Alan Wood and he decided to adopt him. Snitter lived a happy life with his owner as he liked hanging out with Wood's friends and chasing the neighborhood cats. However, Wood's sister, Annie Mossity hated him and abused him out of spite. He lived with his master for three years until his owner was hit by a lorry, while trying to save Snitter from being run over. The public blamed him for getting him run over and the gray-haired lady friend of Wood locked him in a coal closet until she let him out. The next day, Ann Moss takes Snitter with her and sells her to an experimental facility known as Animal Research: Scientific and Experimental (A.R.S.E.), leading him to believe that he killed his master. Moss claimed that Snitter had a demonic aggression and the whitecoats performed several vivisection experiments on him by merging his conscious and subconscious mind, causing him to have hallucinations, often at the sight of his master.

At the lab, Snitter meets a black mongrel named Rowf, who was repeatedly drowned for testing endurances as well as other dogs, including a black and white dog named Kiff. However, the whitecoats take Kiff away and sentence him to death by electrocuting him. Eventually, when the janitor fails to shut Rowf's kennel properly, Snitter notices this and crawls his way to Rowf's cage. Snitter tells Rowf that the whitecoats don't care about him and Rowf slams against the door in a fit of anger, opening it. Rowf is hesitant to escape the facility, but Snitter urges him to move. They wander across the lab and come across a room with the bubonic plague. A monkey in an isolation chamber accidentally scares Rowf and he smashes against a glass tank full of rats, freeing them.

They come across an incinerator and Rowf refuses to go through, but Snitter enters the incinerator. Rowf follows him and they rest inside the incinerator as Snitter has a dream about the experience where his master was run over. They wake up and Snitter finds the exit. Snitter urges Rowf to escape, but he refuses. However, when the whitecoats prepare the incinerator, Rowf decides to escape. The opening is small, but Snitter manages to free him and they escape in time as the incinerator lights up, allowing them to roam the countryside.

The two dogs search for a master to look after them, to no avail. They come across a shepherd named Dennis Williamson and they try to herd his sheep, but they end up making the sheep escape their enclosure and are confronted by the sheep dogs. Snitter explains that they are trying to look for a new master and he and Rowf leave as the owner calls for his dogs. They arrive at a rock circle and Rowf decides that they are gonna become wild animals in order to survive by themselves. They begin killing sheep and come across an abandoned mine.

They eventually meet a fox in the mine and Rowf orders him to stay away from them. The fox offers a deal to help them survive in the wild and Snitter convinces Rowf that they should listen to him. Rowf reluctantly agrees and the fox introduces himself as "The Tod". Snitter disposes of his bandage and they begin killing sheep and other livestock until Rowf kills a sheep at the wrong time. The Tod confronts Rowf and leaves, since the farmers will now hunt them down. When the farmers raid the Tod's area with guns and hunting dogs, the Tod returns and helps them escape the mine before the farmers could find them.

Eventually, Snitter wakes up and walks out of the abandoned shed. The next morning, he comes across a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust named David Ephraim. He calls Snitter over and he jumps to his arms, but accidentally steps on the trigger of his rifle, shooting him in the face. Snitter is forced to flee and the authorities hunt the dogs down as they accuse them for the murder of the man. Rowf searches for Snitter and eventually finds him two days later. Snitter explains about the incident and blames himself as he believes that his head is responsible for causing every unfortunate event.

They arrive at a house owned by the Dawsons and scavenge their dustbins. The women drive Rowf away and lock Snitter in the shed as they report him to the police. Rowf informs the Tod and they head over to the shed as the police arrive. The Tod convinces Snitter to come out of the shed, but he refuses as he hallucinates at the sight of his master and is convinced that he will become mad again if he leaves. Rowf manages to pull the netting off the hole on the door and the Tod helps Snitter escape the shed before the police and the whitecoats could catch him.

The two dogs and the Tod arrive at a local farm and the Tod feasts on a nest of chicken eggs by himself. Rowf drives him away for his selfish behavior and they head into the farm to kill chickens, despite Snitter warning him about the Tod's warnings not to go in there. They break into a chicken coop and manage to kill one of the hens. However, the farmers come out and prepare to shoot them, but the wife stops her husband and lets them go. Meanwhile, an unscrupulous journalist named Digby Driver blackmails a former Nazi scientist working at the research station, who is researching the plague for germ warfare and publishes an article about the two dogs carrying the plague, causing the public to go into a massive panic mode.

They discover the snowy weather and they wander aimlessly across the Lake District. They raid a bank clerk named Geoffrey Westcott's groceries in his car and come across the sheep dogs, who doesn't recognize them. The starving dogs walk across Dow Crag and are unaware that they are being pursued by Geoffrey Westcott (a bounty hunter hired by the whitecoats in the film). The hunter tries to get a shot at the dogs, but he ends up falling to his death and they scavenge his corpse. The authorities find his eaten corpse and the hunt is brought to a national level, as the army is now involved to hunt down the dogs.

The Tod comes up with a plan to distract the hunters while Snitter and Rowf make a run for the train, but he ends up getting 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 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 soldiers fire two shots at them, but they miss. They manage to lose sight of the military as they enter a fog. Snitter begins to tire and loses hope as he thinks that there isn't any island. However, Rowf claims to see the island and urges Snitter to keep moving as they disappear behind the mist.

Fate

In the book, they were eventually rescued by two naturalists named Peter Scott and Ronald Lockley and hauled onto their boat. The naturalists nurture the dogs to health and Snitter admits that he made the island up. However, Rowf told him that it wasn't made up, because the humans rescued them and they are finally free from their suffering against the whitecoats. They finally make it to shore, where they are finally reunited with their master, Alan Wood. Hot Bottle Bill and the Under Secretary want to shoot the dogs, but are confronted by Major Rose and Digby Driver 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 they are finally put out of their misery and their suffering has finally ended. This was the original ending of the book until the readers requested the author to alter his ending. An island is shown, presumably as a metaphor for the afterlife.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Snitter represents Fiver from Richard Adams' Watership Down. However, unlike Fiver, who has the ability to forsee certain events, Snitter only hallucinates as a result of his vivisectional experiments by the whitecoats, even though his hallucinations do sometimes predict something.
  • Snitter had black spots in the book, while he had brown spots in the film.
  • In the book, Snitter mentions mice running around in his head as well as having constant raining in one eye.
  • In the book, there were times where Snitter was jealous of his master's telephone and vacuum cleaner and thought they were some kind of animals.
  • Richard Adams was originally going to include Snitter and Rowf drowning at the end like the film did until the readers insisted on him softening his ending, so they can achieve a happy ending.
  • In the book, it is revealed that Snitter lied to Rowf about the island's existence, so he could have them escape the army. While they were being rescued by the two naturalists, Snitter admitted that he made up the island to Rowf before they were about to finally be reunited with Snitter's long-lost owner.
  • In the book, Snitter comes across the Tod during a fox hunt and he gets killed long before the two dogs are hunted down by the military and chased to the sea.

Navigation

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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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