Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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It's a Dog's Life 

There's in-fighting and backstabbing galore when wealthy Denton Langley snubs his family and leaves most of his estate to a dog, which is discovered after his fatal fall from a drugged horse.


Seymour Robbie


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 4 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Cathryn Damon ... Morgana Cramer
Dean Jones ... Marcus Boswell
Lenore Kasdorf ... Trish Langley
Jared Martin ... Spencer Langley
Roger Miller ... Sheriff
Dan O'Herlihy ... Denton Langley
Lynn Redgrave ... Abby Benton Freestone
Forrest Tucker ... Tom Cassidy
Gregory Walcott ... Isaiah Potts
Cherie Currie ... Echo Cramer
Byron Cherry ... Deputy Will Roxie
James Hampton ... Vet
Sandy Ward ... Barnes
Robert Cornthwaite ... Coroner


While Jessica attends a hunting party, someone tampers in the stables with the normally quiet horse of the rich host, Denton Langley, which suddenly goes wild and causes him to have a fatal fall, yet the drug test Jessica suggests is negative. The will, on videotape, gives his shocked relatives and estate staff peanuts while $15,000,000 goes to Denton's pet dog, Teddy, who is shortly after found drugged after biting old local Isaiah Potts. Family lawyer Marcus Boswell is challenged by the human heirs' lawyer on account of the dog's mental competence. Then Trish Langley is found killed by the security gate, the button which operates it from security guard Barnes' closed room has Teddy's paw print on it. He must have been trained to press it. Jessica works out precisely what ties in, how, and what doesn't. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


At the beginning of the episode at the party scene, Denton speaks with Jessica while looking at a painting of a horse. He points his crop toward the horse's chest and says, "Now here's a painter who knew his horse flesh, look at those 'withers'." He continues to toast saying, "To life, love and a nice set of withers." Both his statements and Jessica's, "Careful Denton, they warned me about you," implies Denton is a randy old man speaking of both horse's and women's breasts. However, the withers of a horse is not near the breast, nor is it typically referred to in pairs. The withers is the high point between the neck and the back of the horse. The front end of the saddle nestles on both sides of it. Withers are normally referred to as "high" or "low" depending on the intensity of the lift at that point. See more »


After Denton's fall, Jessica jumps off her horse and turns towards the camera; it is clearly a stand-in and not Angela Lansbury. See more »


[first lines]
Trish Langley: Well, how about a toast for later?
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References Cujo (1983) See more »


Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

There's where the Horses and the Dogs and the Swindlers Slay
28 August 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This time around, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) pays a visit to dear cousin Abby Benton Freestone (Lynn Redgrave), a Trainer at the Langley Estate, in Greenville, Virginia.

Abby tends to the stable of horses for the fox hunt, as well as the forlorn canine, Teddy, who relishes her affection.

Members of the family consist of the widowed Denton Langley (Dan O'Herlihy) and his irresponsible offspring: eccentric daughter, Morgana Cramer (Cathryn Damon); semi-ambitious son, Spencer Langley (Jared Martin); carefree daughter, Trish Langley (Lenore Kasdorf); and Morgana's rebellious daughter, Echo Cramer (Cherie Currie).

Associates of the Langley clan include fellow fox hunter Tom Cassidy (Forrest Tucker), shrewd attorney Marcus Boswell (Dean Jones), complaisant Veterinarian (James Hampton), feuding neighbor Isaiah Potts (Gregory Walcott), and Security Guard Barnes (Sandy Ward).

And when a videotaped will reveals that Teddy, the family pet, is named as heir to the estate, this creates strong reaction, intense objection and fierce suspicion.

As the plot unfolds, we begin to observe that murders follow Jessica wherever she may visit, but here in Greenville, a horse and Teddy the canine become primary suspects, as Jessica investigates with Sheriff (Roger Miller), Deputy Will Roxie (Byron Cherry) and Greenville Coroner (Robert Cornthwaite), before whom she presents an elaborate demonstration at the inquest, with various suspects in attendance.

Hence, whether or not "It's a Dog's Life" remains to be seen.

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Release Date:

4 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Stereo


Color (Technicolor)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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