I will preface this by saying I am not a dog person. By choice, I prefer cats. I hold great affection for either if I fall for their personality, but by choice, cats get the advantage.
When I had to change out my dear cat Atalanta for a wolf in early Wrath, I was not very happy. At was My Raiding Pet. Period. I didn't really want a wolf. But I had fallen for the vargul blighthounds before Wrath had even come out, so this was a great excuse to tame one. (The dog family, of course, did not yet exist at the time, so they were wolves.) This was back in the days of five stable slots, so I morphed my old corehound Cerberus into a wolf.
The new Cerberus made it all the way into ICC. There were three, then four hunters in our 25m, each with different wolves. I had the only blighthound; there was also a Northrend worg and a ghost wolf. I don't remember what wolf the fourth hunter had originally (I want to say a coyote of some sort, but I don't remember), but he ended up changing it to a blighthound. This was bothersome. Cerberus no longer stood out. It also made things difficult on the Princes fight. The worst part was that I finally realized on some level that Cerberus wasn't suited to that model, despite still being a hellhound. But it wasn't him, as this other wolf was making so obvious. Little things that had always bothered me, like the lack of a jump animation, became bigger and bigger issues. I finally realized and acknowledged that he wasn't Cerberus. Not the real one. I had no true affection for this dog. I missed my big cuddly corepuppy.
With that settled, I was left with the trouble of finding a new wolf and a new name. I had tamed Snarler on Babykalli before, my favorite of the coyote skins, but I knew that the constant movement from the pups drove me up the wall. I didn't like the Northrend worgs at all - and besides, they were everywhere on Dethecus. I hadn't been much of a fan of the regular worg model in the past, but faced with these choices, I gave them another look. I remembered the lighter worg pup color, the dark brown, and decided that this was the one for me. But when I checked Petopia, I learned that it wasn't available in the game. I settled on Old Cliff Jumper's rich gray skin as my second choice. I committed myself to a 13 hour camp after the servers came back up that very Tuesday and Hector came into my life.
Hector was the first worg I had ever liked. I got used to the constant head-tossing. It was such a relief to actually feel affection for him, certainly more than I'd had for Cerberus in the wrong form. He was a good-looking puppy, but he didn't really show much of his personality for a long time, so while I did genuinely like him, I didn't love him.
That changed on a four-man SSC run. Hector chose to path around the long way and pulled adds. My bf and friends said he was dumb. I defended him; it wasn't his fault pet pathing is stupid. I didn't think anything of it until we approached Lady Vashj. There's a puddle of water before the stairs leading up to her. Hector decided to run around it instead of following me through it. I started to wonder if the guys had a point. Quickly swapping to Atalanta to check her pathing, it seemed that she ran around as well, even though I didn't remember her doing that back at 70. The thing is....it was different. As a cat, of course she would run around the water by choice. Hector had no such qualms about getting wet. Much as I didn't want to admit it, Hector was a little on the dumb side. I stayed in denial, but Hector pulled some silly tricks in actual raids, involving pulling things he shouldn't and such. Some of it was my fault, but enough of it was him that the phrase "Hectoring the raid" came to pass.
The Cataclysm hit. I wasn't sure who I was going to raid with; it all depended on raid composition. As it turned out, Cassandra won the buff race, but on fights where our bear tank went owl to dps, Hector got called out. I was relieved on some level. I would have been happy with any of my pets, but I'd raided more with Hector than with Atalanta at this point, so I would have missed him at my side. They both still travel with me for raids, but Atalanta knows she's unlikely to be called on with both a death knight and a shaman in our group.
With patch 4.0.6 on the horizon, I faced an unexpected crisis: Deathmaw was to receive the dark brown skin that I had always wanted for Hector. I had never been able to associate Hector with the noble Old Cliff Jumper, despite no other pet having that appearance, so this didn't seem like a big deal. The only problem was that I was used to him being dark gray. I had to sit with Hector on live and the possible new Hector on the PTR, tabbing back and forth between the two for a long time. Ultimately, I knew it wasn't my call; it was Hector's. I was prepared to go with whatever Hector chose. If he didn't feel at home in the new fur, then I was going to stick with the gray. Inexplicably, during one of my glances at the PTR window, I saw him. The dark brown worg before me was no longer soulless; Hector had given his blessing and moved into the new fur. It was definitely one of the strangest experiences I'd ever had with any of my pets. Never before had I so clearly seen a pet's soul jump between skins. Of course, it wasn't a complete jump, since Hector hasn't grown into the new fur yet, which only enhanced the uniqueness of the experience. It is him, though. I can feel it. Hopefully, growing older will make him a bit wiser, but I'm not holding my breath.
The really crazy twist on all of this came in the next PTR build. Despite having Hector's blessing on the new fur, I was concerned about OCJ being missing. What if Hector decided he only wanted to be dark gray after all? Things just weren't sitting right with me. So when the next PTR build came up, I went looking for OCJ - and I found him! He was at Featherbeard's Hovel, eating out of the boxes outside the hovel. Well, at least he had survival skills. It wasn't until later that he somehow ended up on the porch of the hovel, nibbling on the house. I couldn't believe it. OCJ had turned out to be as silly as Hector. For the first time ever, I saw how they could be related. Hector really was OCJ at his core. I worried that this meant that Hector wouldn't be at home in Deathmaw's skin. But running around with him on the PTR, I could tell he was still there. He'll always have OCJ in his heart, but he himself was meant to be dark brown.
If I could only keep five pets, Hector would make the short list. It shocked me to realize that. That wolf exhausts the hell out of me, but I really do love him. He's come a long way. :)