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Dogs in the Granada Sherlock Holmes series

Author: Revati

The first thing that comes into my mind about the Sherlock Holmes series of Granada Studios is that it was of high standards. Great scripts, wonderful cast, locations chosen with elaboration and authenticity all marked the production. In this article I would like to deal with the four-legged cast of the stories – I make an attempt to list the dogs who appear in the series (horses were also very important in the Victorian era as riding horses, as helpers in agriculture and they were essential in transportation. One of them, a certain Silver Blaze was the main character in an adventure.).

Dogs are men’s faithful companions long ago. They help and protect us, are true friends and make life more tolerable. There are many famous dogs in literature, like Eric Knight’s Lassie (Lassie Come-Home, 1940), the dogs of Jack London, namely Jerry, Michael and Buck (Jerry of the Islands, 1917, Michael, Brother of Jerry, 1917, The Call of the Wild, 1903) or Virginia Woolf’s Flush (Flush: A Biography, 1933).

Rudyard Kipling has a touching poem about the loving of dogs:

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling:
The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie --
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find -- it's your own affair --
But . . . you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit hat answered your every mood
Is gone -- wherever it goes -- for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept'em, the more do we grieve;

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long --
So why in -- Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Jeremy Brett loved dogs and horses – you can see examples for both in the series. He owned horses and dogs when he was a child. Later he had a Jack Russell terrier called Mr. Binks, whose death deeply moved him. His second Watson, Edward Hardwicke was a dog-lover too. In the series there are adventures, where dogs appear even if Doyle did not write a word about them. Maybe this is because not just the main actors, but most members of the crew were fond of animals as well.

In detective stories dogs help the police solving crimes. The situation is the same in some cases of Holmes. I begin the list of stories with the two most well-known mysteries, and after that I keep the original order of screening. I will note when there is some difference between the original novels and the actual episodes.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The title hero of the adventure is a bloodthirsty beast from a family legend. Doyle describes the animal as follows: „a huge, black dog, larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested on”. We do not know more about its breed, just that it is some kind of a mutt, extremely big and wild.

But there is another dog in this story, a much tamer than the famous Hound – Spot, the cute spaniel of dr. Mortimer. Unfortunately the lovely companion becomes the victim of the beast.

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Sidney Paget: dog, hound

Sidney Paget's illustrations for The Missing Three-quarter and for The Hound of the Baskervilles

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The Sign of Four Toby

The Sign of Four

The dog of this story is on the side of the good – it is Toby, the tracker. According to Doyle „Toby proved to be an ugly, long-haired, lop-eared creature, half spaniel and half lurcher, brown and white in colour, with a very clumsy, waddling gait.” The production chose a sweet animal actor for the part. Toby’s legendary nose puts Holmes and Watson on the tracks of Jonathan Small and Tonga.

The Copper Beeches

The Copper Beeches

Carlo, the mastiff is the guard dog of Jephro Rucastle, his task is to keep away unwanted visitors. He strolls free at night and he gets little food to keep him watchful. Sadly dr. Watson has to shoot Carlo when he attacks his owner. (The dog is listed among the famous mastiffs on Wikipedia.)

The Norwood Builder

The Norwood Builder

No dogs are mentioned in the original novel. The beautiful Great Dane belongs to the children who goggle in the street after the fire. (A further difference is that Watson accompanies Holmes to Blackheath and to both of his visits to Norwood. The studio dramatized the story by replacing the bones of a bunny with human remains, that of a hobo – this alteration is very important in solving the case.)

The Abbey Grange

The pet of Lady Brackenstall, Fudge is mentioned indirectly in the story. Poor animal is killed by her rude and violent husband. Interestingly the scene where Holmes finds the collar and the broken tombstone of the dog is missing from the novel. Mentioning the cruelty towards the dog confirms the harshness and depravity of the murdered Lord Brackenstall.

The Musgrave Ritual

Sir Reginald Musgrave keeps some hunting dogs at Hurlstone. Presumably Watson gets to know them better, because he and the landlord go for hunting, while Holmes relaxes. (There is a minor change in this story too – originally Sherlock recalls the events at Baker Street. In the film version the sleuth and Watson travel together to Sussex.)

The Man with the Twisted Lip

The Man with the Twisted Lip

You do not find any dogs in the novel. It seems like keeping dogs was an integral part of peaceful and contented country life. Neville St. Clair and his wife keep two nice golden retrievers, who sadly have no further role in the unfolding of the story.

Silver Blaze

„The curious incident of the dog in the night-time” is crucial in clearing up the case of the missing horse. The dog who did nothing is a border collie.

Shoscombe Old Place

Shoscombe Old Place

Jasper, the beloved dog of Lady Beatrice has an important role in this episode. He is one of the famous Shoscombe spaniels that are bred there. As Watson tells: „You hear of them at every dog-show. The most exclusive breed in England. They are the special pride of the lady of Shoscombe Old Place.”

The Creeping Man

The Creeping Man

During the story it is justified that dogs are much more sensible to changes in their owners’ behaviour than relatives. Professor Presbury’s dog, Roy, the Irish wolfhound finds out quickly that something is happening to his master – and the dog's altered attitude helps to figure out the case. At the beginning of the story Holmes remarks: „I have serious thoughts of writing a small monograph upon the uses of dogs in the work of the detective.” A little later he continues: „A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. And their passing moods may reflect the passing moods of others.”

The Master Blackmailer

The Master Blackmailer

The dog of Charles Augustus Milverton is only mentioned in a half sentence in the novel. (As Holmes says: „a beast of a dog which roams the garden”). In the filmed version the animal is a nice mastiff called Maximilian. Maybe it is more than a mere coincidence that Milverton keeps a mastiff, just like another oppressive figure of the Canon, Mr. Rucastle.

The Last Vampyre

The Last Vampyre

Robert Ferguson’s dog, Carlo becomes the endurer of a cruel and painful test in this adventure. His condition meets the eye of Holmes and with its help he is able to solve the mystery.

The Three Gables

The Three Gables

The episode is a fusion of two stories, namely The Three Gables and The Three Garridebs. My opinion is that it is not a successful adaptation, but it is challenging because a dog appears in the filmed version. It is a Saluki, on which Langdale Pike, who studied at the same university as Holmes, tests the detective’s deductive skills.

The Dying Detective

Victor Savage and his wife keep two spaniels, who are very charming but they have nothing to do with the case.

I would like to mention those stories that had not been filmed but dogs appear in them.

A Study in Scarlet

When they meet for the first time, Watson mentions:”I keep a bull pup.” But the dog never appears again in their long row of adventures – it seems like Doyle forgot that he made the good doctor a dog owner.

There is another dog in this story – that poor animal, on whom the unidentified pills are tested.

The Lion’s Mane – the unfortunate airedale terrier of Fitzroy McPherson

The Gloria Scott – Victor Trevor’s bullterrier, who bites Holmes

The Missing Three-Quarter – Pompey, the draghound

I would like to end this writing with one of the most beautiful poems that was written about dogs.

Lord Byron

George Gordon Noel Byron:
Inscription On The Monument Of A Newfoundland Dog

When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown to glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor's art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rest below:
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been:
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart, is still his master's own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonour'd falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth,
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power,
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye! who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on--it honours none you wish to mourn:
To mark a friend's remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one,--and here he lies.

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" Dogs in the Granada Sherlock Holmes series "
Author: Revati

Recommended site:

Jeremy Brett biography

Jeremy Brett: Sherlock Holmes, the Granada series

Jeremy Brett's churchwarden pipe

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