It’s no surprise that I love dogs, and therefore it should be less surprise that I opted to write about dogs in the Christie novels for my first blog entry. Our Scottish terrier is named Tuppence for obvious reasons.
Christie was a dog enthusiast as well. Her preferred breed was the Sealyham, which is a very rare breed today, though not so much in Christie’s time. She included no less than 17 dogs in her books, which I won’t list here, but I did want to look at two in particular.
The first is Hannibal, the Manchester terrier from the Postern of Fate. Hannibal has a large role in the book (which is dedicated to Christie’s dog Peter.) His behavior is explained through “thoughts” that the dog is imbued with by the author. Hannibal is the character who first discovers Alexander’s tombstone and later Hannibal is the only one who saw the attack on Tuppence. He comes to the rescue at the end of the book by identifying the shooter.
In that book, Christie does mention James, a Sealyham of obstinate nature – as if terriers came in any other way.
In Dumb Witness, the dog, Bob, is given an even larger role. Bob is a wire-haired fox terrier in the book, though the Suchet version of the novel has a dog of a different appearance. In that version, Poirot states, "This dog is very clever. He must be Belgian!" John Curran tells us that it was based on a short story entitled “The Incident of the Dog’s Ball.”
Bob, in this story, plays a pivotal role in the execution of the murder and the solution to it. Bob is blamed for leaving a ball at the top of the stairs which causes Mrs. Arundell to trip. However, she realizes it for an attempted murder and contacts Poirot, who arrives too late to help. Mrs. Arundell realized that Bob was outside all night and could not have been the culprit who left the ball at the top of the stairs as a red herring.
Sealyhams are again mentioned in Mrs. McGinty’s Dead; fox terriers appear again in the short stories “Death By Drowning” and “Next to a Dog.”