Star Trek: Picard has given us our first glimpse of one of the show's supporting characters - Picard's dog. Revealed in the new poster for the much anticipated CBS All Access series, the large pit bull stands by Picard's side as he looks over what appears to be his much-expanded family vineyard on Earth.
While Picard was never shown to be much of a dog person during Star Trek: The Next Generation, he did keep exotic fish in his ready room, so perhaps he's always been a pet owner and fans just never thought much about it. It's also not the first time a famous Star Trek captain has been accompanied by a furry friend - Star Trek: Enterprise's Jonathan Archer famously explored the galaxy with his pet Beagle, Porthos. Porthos even got a brief nod in the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek film, when Scotty suggests he may have lost Admiral Archer's prized Beagle in a transporter accident.
Other than the fact that he exists, perhaps the most delightful revelation about Picard's dog is the name on his Starfleet insignia-shaped collar - "No. 1." That's a name with tremendous meaning for Star Trek fans, and actually has its origins in the very first Star Trek pilot filmed in 1964, the pre-Kirk "The Cage." Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) referred to his female first officer (Majel Barrett) only as "Number One." That would still hold true in the current prequel series Star Trek: Discovery, with Anson Mount's Pike referring to Rebecca Romijn's bridge officer by the same nickname. However, the term didn't really penetrate the cultural lexicon until Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Captain Picard usually referred to his first officer, Commander William Riker, as "Number One"; we would later learn Picard always refers to his first officers that way. The fact that he's given that moniker to a dog is both amusing and also a bit sad, yet another indication that Picard's twilight years have been lonely and full of regret.
And while this may be the first time we've seen Picard with a canine companion, anyone who follows Patrick Stewart on social media knows the legendary actor is a dog enthusiast. Stewart and his wife often post about their experiences fostering abused pit bulls, which has resulted in an avalanche of unbearably cute pictures of one of the world's greatest thespians napping with a dog curled up next to him. Stewart has always been a vocal proponent of many social causes, and the public rehabilitation of the long-antagonized and misunderstood pit bull breed seems to be the one currently closest to his heart. It would in no way be surprising - in fact, it seems more likely than not - if Stewart himself suggested Picard have a pet Pit Bull. The fact that he's not only the A-list star of the series, but also a producer and a presence in the writing, means Stewart probably gets what he wants with this show.
There's still plenty not known about Star Trek: Picard. CBS is yet to spotlight any of the human supporting cast, including the likes of Alison Pill and Harry Treadaway. It's not even been revealed why exactly we're visiting this particular chapter in Picard's life, or what about the story could have been so compelling to convince Stewart to un-retire his most iconic character after two decades. More answers are likely coming at San Diego Comic-Con, where the cast and crew will be present for a panel.
At least fans know there are still pit bulls in the late 24th century, and that Jean-Luc Picard understands the comfort and companionship one can experience when they let a dog into their life. Let's just hope the new Number One in Star Trek: Picard doesn't turn out to be Q or a Changeling or some horrible devolution of Will Riker (it wouldn't be the first time) - he can simply be the Captain's latest trusted right-hand man.