As a child, Growlie was James's only friend on his parents' estate. The two were inseparable, and Growlie often comforted James whenever he had problems, especially with his parents and arranged fiancée, Jessebelle. When the stresses of home became too much, James ran away, leaving Growlie behind at the mansion. Growlie lives in an extravagant doghouse, which was so large that Ash and his friends mistook it for being the family's actual mansion. Misty even commented, to her later embarrassment, that it was the largest mansion she had ever seen.
Years later, in Holy Matrimony!, James returned to his parents' home after hearing that they had died. However, this turned out to be a hoax, designed to trick James into marrying Jessebelle. After the deception was revealed, Jessebelle trapped James in the family's dungeon. Ash, his friends, Jessie and Meowth released Growlie from his doghouse, allowing Growlie to burst into the dungeon and rescue its long-lost master. The two were thrilled to see each other, but their reunion was cut short by Jessebelle, who subsequently attacked with her Vileplume. After defeating the Vileplume and temporarily chasing Jessebelle off the estate, James once again left home, thereby giving up his inheritance and continuing to live with Jessie and Meowth. Before he left, he told Growlie to stay behind and watch after his parents, which greatly saddened the Puppy Pokémon.
Growlie made a reappearance in The Treasure Is All Mine!, where it inadvertently blew Team Rocket's cover. The team had been infiltrating one of James's vacation homes; Growlie, elated to see its master once again, pounced on the group. Growlie proceeded to help James (once again) evade his ever-pursuing family. Though they rarely see each other any more, Growlie remains protective and devoted to its master.
Personality and characteristics
Like many of James's Pokémon, Growlie has a great relationship with its master. Growlie is extremely loyal to James, and it cares deeply for him. Likewise, James cares deeply for Growlie. Growlie has been shown to be a strong fighter and a useful Pokémon, despite its few appearances throughout the series.
A † shows that the move was used recently, unless all moves fit this case or there are fewer than five known moves.
Not including temporary Pokémon, Growlie is the first Pokémon owned by a main character to have a nickname.
Growlie is loosely based upon or possibly inspired by the classic character of Petrasche in English author Marie Louise de la Ramée's 1872 novel, A Dog of Flanders, published with her pseudonym Ouida. It is a coming-of-age tale about a Flemish boy named Nello and his dog Patrasche, who later freezes to death in a chapel in front of the famous Ruebens painting. In Holy Matrimony!, James even mutters the famous line spoken by Nello as he lies dying in the snow: Farewell this unfortunate world. This is a little more or less surprising as the story is widely read in Japan, and has been adapted into several films and anime.
Coincidentally, a commercial for the 1975 anime adaptation of the above story was included on some of the early Pokémon VHS releases.
Excluding temporary Pokémon, Growlie is the only Fire-type Pokémon owned by either Jessie or James.
For more information on this Pokémon's species, see Growlithe.