The Plague Dogs
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The Plague Dogs

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,856 ratings  ·  287 reviews
Snitter and Rowf, escapees from a vivisection lab, make for the desolate heaths and the windy countryside of England's Lake District. There, aided by a crafty fox, they raid chicken coops, kill sheep and forage for sustenance. They hide in abandoned caves and mine shafts.

Local farmers, incensed by their losses, set traps and organize hunts. A reporter announces that Snitt

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Hardcover, 390 pages
Published February 12th 1978 by Knopf (first published 1977)
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L.M. Ironside
I hated this book. I will never read it again, ever, as long as I live. And it absolutely deserves five stars.

The Plague Dogs is one of the most visceral, wrenching, emotional reads you'll ever find. It follows the fortunes of two dogs, Snitter and Rowf, who escape from a medical testing lab. In an attempt to cover up the unnecessary nature of the research done there, the humans running the lab start a media scare about the dogs, claiming that they carry a serious virus which may kill humans. In...more
Chris
I really enjoy Richard Adams. Part of it is his writing - he has an excellent style and a definite gift for description. When he talks about a place, it is immediately obvious that he's actually been there. He uses multiple senses to tell you what a place looks, sounds and smells like, the feeling of the damp earth and the rolling mists, the tastes that seep through the air.... Not surprising when one is writing a book where a pair of dogs are the primary characters.

And that's another reason I l...more
Bookeater
I have to disagree with the reviewer who says this is not realistic. I worked in a government lab in California only 2 years ago. Things have *not* changed. There are simply more organizations and welfare groups that have no actual say in day to day operations of labs. It's up to researchers and workers to follow the rules daily, and they always know when the inspections will happen.

Also, animal labs do use and buy animals from shelters for experiments. Back in 2006 for sure, Ingham County Anima...more
Nicole
Emotionally over wrought and not very well anchored in the reality of research. This type of book has lead to people believing all labs just use any animal of any type for prurient vivisection. I work in labs and there are no animals not bred for lab use by specialists. To compare results the animals must be very limited in their genetic diversity they are not common pet store animals. Of course most were mice but there were rats and rabbits in some labs. My own work with mice was to create knoc...more
Vanessa
This is one of my favourite books ever. My beat-up old copy is one of my prized possessions. I'm planning on rereading it soon, and I swear, more people need to read this book.

It's the tale of two dogs who escape from a laboratory that is very happy to use animals in its experiments. Whilst escaping, Rowf and Snitter pass through a room that is being used for research into the bubonic plague, and break a petri dish, thus convincing the scientists that these dogs have bubonic plague and are a pub...more
C.L.
Oct 14, 2007 C.L. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inteligent Readers
Bit of a spoiler following as I am discussing the book, itself, not just the jacket. Also, much of the book resembles the animated film, but the ending is entirely different--the film stops while the novel keeps going.

This novel chronicles medical experimentation in horrific detail. It is depressing, as many have said, but what makes it depressing is that it forces the reader to face profoundly shameful things that happen, or have happened, quite frequently, things that we allow or have allowed...more
Keith
I started this book at least ten times before I could read past the first chapter. This book will destroy the heart of any animal lover. It is the story of two animals that escape from an animal testing lab from the point of view of the animals. While the writing can be hard to absorb as Adams tries to show the mental condition of the characters, the tale is well worth the read. It seems to me to be a good way to step out of what we know and see the world from a different set of eyes.
Myles
I had an argument with a co-worker this afternoon. This is something I try to avoid at all costs, because usually arguments are tiresome and boring, because neither side is willing to give any ground and mostly just want an excuse to air their own ideas, to hell with listening or hearing what the opposition have to say. I can be guilty of that, absolutely, but usually I'm willing to hear out an opening line before I realize the other person is an idiot.

But, what can I say, I am a terribly earnes...more
Jackie
It's not that this isn't a well written, thought provoking book. It is both of those things. It just isn't the kind of book that I like to read, because it's just too...sad. Too painful. Too much for me, with my delicate sensibilities.

It is, in fact, quite a good book. If you like Richard Adams, or if you do not like animal testing and are looking to get emotionally charged up about it, this would be a good book to read. If you are extremely sensitive about unreasonable abuse/violence to animal...more
Bess
Oct 22, 2007 Bess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoyed Watership Down
Shelves: animals
One of the saddest books I have ever read. As an animal lover, especially somone who loves dogs it was very hard to finish-but the ending was appropriate and Adams's gift for storytelling helps soften the blow at the end of the journey.
It did make me hate scientists for awhile, though.
John Gillespie
I read this after finishing Watership Down, Adams' most famous novel. Plague Dogs is darker, angrier, and more polemical than Watership Down, but Adams is such a gifted writer that his characters transcend his political purpose. While I would recommend Watership Down to everyone, I suspect Plague Dogs would be an ideal book for later adolescents with a tendency to rail against society. I enjoyed it at forty-three, but it would have consumed me at sixteen. If, like me, you felt instant affinity w...more
Andrew Farr
This book was a major disappointment after loving Watership Down and Tales From Watership Down.

There were a lot of humans in this book. It clouded things quite a bit. In Watership Down we are taken into a new world because the rabbits are wild and they have their own folk-lore, language and interesting little bits of culture. In this book, however, the dogs only know man. They do not know the wild or nature. This keeps the story from truly captivating the reader by bringing him into a different...more
Colleen
My thinking on choosing to read this: "Watership Down, about DOGS?!?" Could life be more perfect?

Ooof, was I ever off-base.

Granted, there's no mistaking. These are both unquestionably by the same author. Pastoral scenes are vivid, the animals' modes of thinking are vivid, the scale is epic... and yes, Watership Down has head-scratchy moments where the animal's perspective makes something familiar to humans alien, scenes of terror that get practically drug-trippy, parts that wring your heart beca...more
Stefan
If 1/2 stars were available I'd give this book a 2 1/2 instead of 3 star rating. It's not that it was all that terribly bad, I just felt that it was incredible average and quite honestly blah in parts. From what I have heard, and read myself, I feel that this is definitely the low point in Richard Adams' writing.

I think that my two main problems with this book are first the amount of space that Adams uses to push his political agenda down the reader's throat. While I totally agree that the inhum...more
Patrick
There are a lot of things not to like about this book. It seems to go against everything your average Eng Lit graduate would consider ‘good’ writing. It’s rambling, overwritten, loosely edited and willfully biased. It’s peppered with gratuitous literary references, weighed down by lengthy passages of leaden political satire, and the whole thing has the slightly ponderous air of the kind of book a retired civil servant would write. (Which is perhaps appropriate because that’s exactly what Adams w...more
Kathleen
I listened to the audio, which lost a point cuz I couldn't understand the fox (see below). This fantastical yet grimly realistic novel was originally published in 1977, in part to counteract the horrible animal experiments done in the name of progress at an infamous laboratory in England. The lab in the book is based on a real lab, Lawsen Park -- a converted farm, also known by the acronym ARSE (Animal Research, Scientific Aand Experimental), aka "Buttocks" (hehe). I guess this book probably hel...more
Granny
I loved this book, but after finishing it, I'm emotionally spent. It is a heart-wrenching, gripping tale that will send you on an emotional roller coaster as you follow the two hapless dogs, Snitter and Rowf, who escaped from an animal research facility into the countryside in England. Their wanderings in search of food, shelter, and a kindly human voice or touch, is harrowing, fraught with danger, near disasters, and amazing luck, as they are hunted by farmers, angry over losing sheep to the do...more
Fox
I'm a bit torn on what rating to give this book. Portions of it I absolutely despised, as they just felt rather contrived and redundant... other portions I absolutely adored, and three parts were downright beautiful. I enjoyed the style of the book itself, and the newspaper clippings interspersed throughout were used just as well as they were in say, Carrie or Dracula. The moralistic conversations, while a bit jarring, were still used rather well to the purpose that the book served.

All in all,...more
Peacegal
The celebrated author of Watership Down turns his attention to dogs, or rather, two unusual dogs who have suffered miserable trials in a sprawling research laboratory. They manage to escape their predetermined fate and flee into the countryside, simply wishing to survive. The human population has different plans after sensational media reports claim the dogs are carrying a deadly virus.

The Plague Dogs is not only a significant contribution to humane literature, but a gripping adventure story in...more
Laura
One day I will have to go back and read this one again to pick up all the language play, but during this first reading I got so caught up in the plot that I just plunged ahead to find out what was going to happen to Snitter and Rowf, the canine protagonists of this book. They have escaped from a scientific research facility that performs what seem to be cruel and unnecessary tests on animals of all types. They kill sheep to survive thus enraging the farming community, then an unscrupulous newspa...more
Jen
An enjoyable book, but one that I liked much more the first time around, when I was very young. It still kept me entertained, but seemed more simplistic and overtly biased now. The acronym for the animal testing center, ARSE, seems ludicrous now but I don't remember noticing it when I was little!
Still a good read, but not about to convince anyone against animal testing- a mainly sentimental and occasional downright silly, but still wonderfully detailed and imaginative- fictional account of two a...more
Doreen Dalesandro
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5
I listened to this book.

This book hit home. As a college student I had been involved in animal research. I understand the need for it but will be very happy when animals are completely out of the picture. And I will not go down the worthwhile research vs. just-plain-cruelty path. I love dogs; I am owned and operated by 2 Cairn Terriers and a terrier mix. Many parts of the book (not just the death of the Cairn) were emotionally draining for me. But I loved this book! It had...more
Marissa
I actually never finished this book. I love Watership Down but this book was just too dark and sad for me. I always finish a book I've started, unless I really really hate it, but I had to force myself to stop reading this book. I wanted to keep going, hoping for a happy ending, but it ended up making me so depressed I decided it was best to just stop. I think that was in large part due to my love for dogs and that I'm a rather sensitive person when it comes to animal suffering.
Just a fair warni...more
Joshua
This book is like Watership Down in a lot of ways. Like the rabbits, the dogs escape into the wilderness to flee the evils of man. Like the rabbits, they have limited comprehension of the world and use mythology to fill in the gaps. Like the rabbits, they get help from a member of another species, who speaks with a funny accent. Even the characterizations are similar: I couldn't help but think of Rowf and Snitter as Traumatized!Bigwig and Deranged!Fiver.

There are differences however, the main t...more
Natasha Bleker
An eye-opening novel based on the journey of two escaped test-animals, and the struggles they must face as they search for a new master.

This awe inspiring novel dates back to the 1960-1970's, the years in which it was published. The genre is rather realistic, giving the reader extremely believable characters and situations that are relatable to all ages. Additionally, Richard Adams allows the reader to connect further with the book, though the usage of the dialect known as Georgie. A common sla...more
Gloria
Enjoy may not be the right word to use to describe this book as it deals with a very dark subject - the experimentation on animals by commercial, scientific and governmental groups. the dogs Rowf and Snitter are two such animals and by pure chance they are able to escape. The book follows their foray into the unknown countryside and their desperate quest to remain alive, all the while pursued relentlessly by the authorities. Adams' writing is very descriptive and his treatment of the conversatio...more
Ronald Dahle
If you can find it, get it! One of the most enjoyable novels I have ever read. It is the story of two dogs on an adventure after having escaped a animal testing laboratory. Tou will have to learn a different set of idioms (easy) to grasp what is going on between the dogs as they romp and cavort all the time avoiding capture.

If you are a dog lover this book will tug at your heartstrings.

If there was a six star rating this one would get it from me.
k.wing
The story gets five stars, easy. However, the actual book feels about 100-150 pages too long.

I will never forget this story. Completely heartbreaking. It makes me contemplate what freedom is and means, and made my poor dog endure millions of more hugs than usual while I was reading this book.
Ellen
I just re-read this amazing novel after about 25 years. I really love Adams writing, clear lyrical prose. And of course his deep knowledge of and sympathy to the natural world speaks to me in my soul. This is a book with many passages that are hard to read, but having just finished four and half years working at a vet school in a bio-medical research lab building, I do know first-hand that things have improved immensely for laboratory animals. Strict protocols are in place, reviewed often and ev...more
Glen
It seems those lovers of Adam's "Watership Down" should avoid this one. I personally found the plot to be truly heartfelt, but too simple. But there is one passage on page 90 of my edition which keeps me from giving the book away. It is the transformation of a domestic dog into a wolf when he catches scent of prey. I find it to be Adams finest moment.
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watership down or plague dogs. 5 30 Feb 26, 2014 06:15PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adams was born in Newbury, Berkshire. From 1933 until 1938 he was educated at Bradfield College. In 1938 he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read Modern History. On 3 September 1939 Neville Chamberlain announced that the United Kingdom was at war with Germany. In 194...more
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“When the man was disgraced and told to go away, he was allowed to ask all the animals whether any of them would come with him and share his fortunes and his life. There were only two who agreed to come entirely of their own accord, and they were the dog and the cat. And ever since then, those two have been jealous of each other, and each is for ever trying to make man choose which one he likes best. Every man prefers one or the other.” 8 likes
“Dangerous thing, a name. Someone might catch hold of you by it, mightn't they?” 6 likes
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