I adopted Batman only a month after I “adopted” my now-husband Jun. When Jun and I went to meet Bat (then Lucky) at his foster home, he seemed entirely uninterested in me but curled up in Jun's lap. I wasn’t sold until the foster said, “Look, the sooner someone takes this one, the sooner I can pull another one from the euth list.” And with that, I stuffed this furry little stranger into my Sherpa bag with the tag still on it, and we took a quiet, mildly awkward trip home on Metro North, as if on a business trip with a colleague I barely knew.
That night I tucked him into a doggie bed on the floor next to my bed, and when I woke up the next morning, I found Batman pressed next to me, nestled under the covers. So began thirteen years of living with a dog who knew exactly what he wanted and didn't hesitate to get it.
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At first Batman was afraid of everything outdoors, even grass and the chirping of birds, and he would only poop on the yellow line in the middle of the street. Our first year, which included a move to Brooklyn, seemed a constant struggle to shelter him from the terrifying world around him. But as time passed, Bat’s fears washed away, revealing a surprisingly confident, defiantly opinionated, and infinitely curious dog.
Batman loved to be part of the action. He’d scream with joy whenever I pulled out his carry bag or bicycle basket, hurling himself inside. Together we explored numerous parks, went out for drinks with friends, and collected a few ribbons in parkour, rally, and CGC. He volunteered his time helping me with dog training lessons, as well as taking photos and videos for my training books (during which time he developed an intense Pupperoni addiction that later almost led him to jump into a flaming fireplace in search of his favorite snack).
Batman was a relentless micromanager, keeping tabs on each person’s whereabouts. He watched the clock diligently and started staring at me for his meals at least 90 minutes before dinnertime.
His confident swagger was a blessing when we adopted Beans, who was completely overwhelmed by city life when she arrived. On walks, she followed on Batman’s heels and ventured places she never would have gone on her own. He was exceptionally tolerant of this new canine sister when she repeatedly stole his toy sheep and slept on his favorite plaid blanket. Batman, always a gentleman, simply stared at her from a distance and waited for me to intervene.
In his last year, his many health issues started wearing him down, both physically and cognitively. Yet he remained active until the very end. On the morning we said goodbye, Batman and I played several rounds of find-the-treats in the bedroom, and no matter how many bits of chicken I fed him, he wanted more.
It’s only after losing Batman that we can see how central he was to our family. Without his diligent management, there is no one to tell me when to feed Beans or take her out. Because I no longer have a pocket-inspector on duty, I can carelessly leave dirty clothes (with a leftover treat often tucked in a pocket) on the floor. When I wake up, I’m met with silence instead of raspy breathing and a cold “feed me now” stare. And the list goes on. Life is easier, sure, but is it better? For all the headaches that Batman gave us, he also gave us thirteen years of laughter and love. We will miss him dearly.
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant and certified dog trainer in Brooklyn, NY with Doggie Academy and in Southbury, CT.