Jay only lived with us a short time, and soon after he moved out, I joined a band. Worf quickly became the unofficial fifth member, and entertained us between practice sessions by play fighting, forcing us to commit to marathon games of tug-of-war with his rope and running laps around the incredibly small living room we were lounging in. He even contributed some uncredited vocals on one of the hidden tracks on our CD.
Fighting was his favorite pastime. He would never hurt anyone, but his gnashing teeth and vicious growls would instill fear into people witnessing this ritual for the first time, as they were sure that he was trying to murder us. He was ready to go in an instant, and I could incite his faux wrath simply by clapping my hands and pointing at him.
One time – at another band house I shared with our bass player Dan – we had some people over to hang out, a few of which didn’t know Worf. We were casually just sitting around, and Worf was pacing back and forth, mainly because he couldn’t lay on the couch, as there was a friend of ours named Tim sitting next to me, and he didn’t have enough room.
I decided to liven things up. Worf stopped at the coffee table in front of me, I looked him straight in the eyes (which he immediately took as a challenge), smacked my hands together, and pointed menacingly at him. He responded by jumping on Dan who was sitting on the couch closest to him and then jumping to the couch I was on and over Tim in an instant, growling and snarling the whole time. As he was attacking me, I looked at Tim’s face and the horror that I saw there made me and Dan fall into a laughing fit.
My bandmate Jody could also get him riled up by calling him “Poonces”, – a variation on the old SNL skit “Toonces the Driving Cat” – at which point Worf would bare his teeth and attack Jody with the intent of maiming him for his indiscretion, only to curl up beside him moments later, asking for belly rubs. Soon it became a term of endearment between the two, but if Jody ever uttered it with the wrong inflection, Worf was ready to regulate.
While I was Worf’s Alpha, no one else was. He feared nothing. Once there were a couple of stray Dobermans roaming the neighborhood, and as they headed down the sidewalk on our side of the street, I realized I had left the storm door open. I never had to worry about Worf getting out because even if he did, he would never leave his yard. But this was different, interlopers were approaching his domain.
Before I could cut off his access to the door, he was out, and in the yard barking like he was out for blood, hackles raised. I was wondering how I was going to diffuse this situation without getting mauled, but as the two Dobermans got closer to our yard, they crossed the street, hurried their pace, and kept going, never once even glancing in Worf’s direction. There were many times like these that I wished I had a universal translator set to the canine setting.
He loved people, but couldn’t stand other dogs, especially males. The only male dog he ever tolerated was his cousin Gizmo, my Aunt Karen’s dog, who would travel the block and a half to our house, bark at the door to be let in, and help himself to Worf’s bowl. He was ok with this, but the time a friend of the band’s named Jeff who visited, and brought his extremely large, male German Shepard named Deogee with him, Worf perceived it as a transgression of the highest order. I had no idea this visit was happening, or I could’ve warned it was not advisable.
We were sitting around playing Goldeneye, when suddenly Worf ferociously jumped on the storm door, which would not latch properly, and started his attack on the unsuspecting Deogee, who was coming in with Jeff. Deogee probably had Worf by 15 pounds and a couple of inches, but he was super laid back and unprepared for the deathmatch that was about to take place. I was able to get to Worf before he did any damage, and I will never forget the look on poor Deogee’s face, who presumably just wanted to hang out and be easy. Worf wasn’t having it though, and Deogee spent the remainder of Jeff’s visit in his truck.
Another instance of his disdain for other male dogs occurred when we went to visit Jay at his new house. Jay’s backyard was separated from his landlords by a chain-link fence, and the landlord owned a crabby, inhospitable terrier mix, who greeted everyone and everything with angry, rude, and incessant barking. Upon our arrival, we put Worf in the backyard and then hurried to Jay’s bedroom so we would have a front-row seat to what would be a most memorable encounter.
While he was casually investigating this foreign terrain, the landlord’s dog jumped off his porch and ran furiously to the fence to give Worf the business. Without even looking at this little terror, Worf casually lifted his leg and sprayed his mark on the dog’s face, and then kicked dirt on him for good measure. As the little dog slunk back to his porch with his tail between his legs, I simultaneously felt immense pride for Worf and deep sympathy for the cur that had dared challenge him.
I still wonder what breed he was mixed with. The Humane Shelter said he was a Chow mix, but I think that was just their catchall for any big dog. His coat wasn’t fluffy, and his tongue wasn’t marked. The only thing remotely like a chow about him was the way his tail curled over his back. As he matured his coat showcased five different colors, and his muzzle was perpetually gray, giving him an aged and wizened look his entire life.
I believe he was partly a German Shepherd mix, mainly because he was only ever interested in patrolling his perimeter, never in roaming and marking his territory all over the place. My friends and I would speculate that his other half was some wild and untameable beast, presumably a Dingo, wolf, or possibly even a jackal. I do know that whatever it was, it was a perfect mix, as it imbued him with intelligence, loyalty, personality, and a regality that made him every other dog’s Alpha.
(Thanks for reading. If you dug it, feel free to explore my other posts via the menu categories above. Please subscribe, leave a like, and comment below so we can continue the discussion.)