He was almost 14 years old when he died. He left this world the same way that he lived in it, which was right by my side. On his last visit to the doctor, we were told there was nothing that could be done for him, so we brought him home, made him as comfortable as possible, and waited.
He was still his old self for a few days, bossing the other animals around and following me from room to room as best he could. He couldn’t traverse the linoleum floor in the kitchen without fear of falling, so I would carry him across it, gently holding his 65 pounds until we reached the carpet where he was sure of his footing again.
His last night with us, I made a pallet next to his bed so we could be as close to each other as possible, and I could get in as many pets and hugs as he could stand. He woke me once in the middle of the night, and since I thought he was thirsty, I adjusted his water bowl, rubbed his ears, and went back to sleep.
When I awoke the next morning, he was gone. I tried to wake him but when he wouldn’t move, I knew it had happened and the world slipped beneath my feet. My dear, late, ex-wife Maggie took me in her arms and held me, and all I could do was repeat over and over while sobbing that I wasn’t ready for him to go.
She sent me to the bedroom with our chihuahua Twinkie, who was always his little sidecar and took care of the hard part. She buried him and got rid of his bowls and toys and bed, so I wouldn’t have to look at the physical reminders of what I had lost.
I never knew what grief sickness was until my dog, the best friend I ever had and the most awesome and unique canine that ever lived on this earth, Mr. Worf, died in October of 2008.
But this story isn’t about my grief, or to make you sad, it’s to celebrate the wonder that was Worf. To share the stories that made him a legend to those that knew him, and to inspire jealousy and awe in those unfortunate souls that never got a chance to.
I had always wanted a Siberian Husky and was determined that when I got my own place that would be the dog I would get. I quickly realized that a Husky was way out of my price range, so I decided to adopt a puppy from the Humane Society.
When I got there, all the puppies that were available for adoption were lined up in cages on one side of the wall. I stuck my finger through the wires and each pup, cuter than the next, nibbled on my finger. Until the last cage, which was inhabited by the craziest looking one, licked me. I decided this little guy would be mine.
I couldn’t take him home until he had been fixed and given his shots, so a week later I came back to pick him up. The puppies that were waiting on their forever homes were in separate cages, and when the lady opened the door for me to pick him up, he feverishly and fervently started doing laps in his little 4 by 10-inch cage, ripping the paper lining to shreds.
I brought a little box to put him in for the ride home, and for the whole trip, he stood on his hind legs with his front paws over the rim of the box and just stared at me. I already had a few names for him in mind, and I tried a few out as we drove. I suggested a couple as he just looked at me unimpressed, until I said, “How about Mr. Worf?”, and he replied with a sharp little bark. It was decided.
The next year turned out to be a war of attrition. One of us was going to be the Alpha and for a while, there were serious questions about who that would be. Even though he had been neutered, Mr. Worf lived up to his namesake. There wasn’t a battle he backed down from or a lesson he learned easily.
There were many skirmishes during the “War of the Housebroken”, none more memorable than the last. I was under the impression that I was gaining ground, and that he would soon be doing his business outside until one night he made one last volley. I was sitting on my recliner watching TV, when Worf jumped on the couch, looked me straight in the eye, lifted his leg, and let it fly. I leaped from my chair, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck to throw him outside, and an armistice was soon reached.
His teething issues were terrible. There were times he chewed a perfect circle in the carpet, tore my prized copy of Sports Illustrated with Penny Hardaway on the cover to pieces, and ripped my valuable leather-bound collection of Frank Miller Batman stories to shreds.
He would destroy most anything he could get in his mouth, but magazines were his favorite. Not long after my friend Jay moved in with us, he invited his devoutly religious mother over to see the place. Before she arrived, he made sure to hide all the copies of Playboy and Penthouse I had lying around as part of our bachelor pad décor. Worf had other plans however, after all, it was his den too.
Jay picked his mother up, brought her to the house, and upon unlocking the door froze in horror as Playmates and Pets of the month from the last six months were strewn about the living room floor like a tornado of teeth had torn through the local adult bookstore. He had his mother wait outside as he quickly cleaned up the bits and pieces, while Worf was banished to the backyard to revel in his victory.
When his need to chew everything had been sated, and he was completely housebroken, I decided to teach him only a few commands, as it was my notion that I wanted to encourage him to be his own dog. I taught him to sit, stay, and bark every time I said, “Who is it?” or when he heard a knock at the door.
Once he let me become his Alpha, I rarely, if ever, had to correct him. He did have issues with wanting to greet people who visited by jumping up and down, but that was just his way of welcoming them into his pack, and his burgeoning personality charmed everyone he met.
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