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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.

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 hated him and abused him out of spite. He lived with him 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 hit 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, Snitter tells Rowf that the whitecoats don't care about him and he slams against the door of his kennel, opening it. Snitter crawls into Rowf's kennel and they explore the lab in an attempt to escape. They come across an incinerator and enter it. Snitter dreams about his master and they notice a nearby opening. Rowf struggles to climb through and the whitecoats prepare the incinerator, but Snitter bites Rowf, allowing them to escape the lab and roam the countryside.

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. However, when he comes across a Jewish man named David Ephraim, he accidentally steps onto the trigger as he tries to jump into the man's arms, causing the gun to shoot into the man's face. As time passes, the two dogs grow thin and bony, having to steal more and more food while still avoiding capture. Rowf drives the Tod away after he selfishly had a nest of chicken eggs to himself. They head out to the farm to kill a chicken and they are caught by the farmers, but the wife lets them go. On a snowy day, they raid a car driver's groceries and are pursued by a hunter hired by the whitecoats. The Tod returns to help them and he jumps the hunter, causing him to fall to his death. The two dogs scavenge his corpse and the authorities find the remains of the hunter. 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 lose hope 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 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. 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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Navigation

           Nepenthe logo Heroes

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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