For this week’s Friday Five, we wanted to take a look at the some of the greatest furry friends that have gone where no dog (or cat… or targ…) have gone before. Star Trek (The Original Series) features in this month’s Loot Pets assortment, so here’s a salute to some of the top pets across the history of Trek!:
The Unicorn Dog
It was just five episodes in to the first season of the Original Series – “The Enemy Within” to be exact – that we got our first adorable animal in Trek lore: The Alfa 177 canine, popularly known by fans as “The Unicorn Dog” (Pictured above being cuddled by Spock). This was an eventful episode – Spock also delivered his first Vulcan neck pinch in it! – but this little critter (seemingly played by some kind of cute terrier in a fluffy body wig, with sparkly insect-like feelers and that unmistakable horn) definitely looms large in the memory.
Humans might find them something of an acquired taste, but you’re a Klingon it’s not at all uncommon to keep a domesticated targ – a boar-like creature with a unique head-horn of its own and lots of shaggy fur up front. In the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Where No One Has Gone Before,” Worf briefly saw a vision of the pet targ he had as child. “Domesticated” is the key word there, of course; targs are also kept as livestock, popularly hunted and used for their meat as well as their milk. Never let it be said the Klingons weren’t a practical race.
Porthos the Beagle
If we’re talking the chronology of the Star Trek universe, then technically this handsome fellow is the very first pet to take the spotlight in Federation adventures. We’re speaking, of course, of Captain Jonathan Archer’s prize beagle, named after the jolliest of the Three Muskateeers who appeared in Star Trek: Enterprise. He’s also the subject of a rare cross-over easter egg between one of the TV shows and an unrelated feature film; next time you watch the 2009 Star Trek again, pay attention to that scene where Kirk and Spock Prime first meet Scotty…
Spot the Cat
Perhaps no pet in the entire Trek canon has such a touching bond with their owner as Spot, Data’s orange tabby. The android Enterprise officer was deeply devoted to the feline even before his emotion chip was activated; in Star Trek: Generations, when Data first experiences the joy of being reunited with your lost pet, it’s a total Kleenex moment. Spot also has a starring role in one of the funniest TNG moments ever, in “Phantasms” as Data entrusts him to Worf’s care:
Stop right there! We already know what you’re going to say. Tribbles? – really? After arguably the most legendary TOS episode dealt entirely with how much trouble they are?!
Well, yes provided you care for your tribble correctly – starting with having them spayed. Or neutered. We’re not sure. (There don’t seem to be male vs. female tribbles.) But given that they turned up in very domesticated settings in later Trek lore – remember the ones on the table in that bar scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock? It was practically an intergalactic cat cafe! – we’re going to make the assumption that the Federation eventually figured out a way to keep these little fur nuggets from multiplying out of control.
It’s obvious the way that they deliver smiles and calm the nerves with their little purring and cooing noises, that in manageable numbers they’re excellent pets. And cute. Don’t forget cute!