Sometimes it takes only one dog from Taiwan to defy all odds, save the lives of sheltered animals and motivate people facing everyday problems.
Batman — the awesome wheelchair dog — has accomplished all of those things since being rescued from Taiwan after he was struck by a car and paralyzed. Batman was brought to America and fostered by UC Davis veterinary students Anjolie Daryani and Eray Bekir, who helped with his recovery. He responded so well, he was named “America’s Happiest Dog” by the Hub Network and has finally found a “forever family.”
Pamela, Rachel and Dale Goldwater found Batman’s Facebook page last summer. Like many of Batman’s followers, they immediately fell in love and adopted him. Now, the whole family updates their extended family of more than 3,000 Facebook followers.
The Facebook page, “Batman, the Awesome Wheelchair Dog,” was created by Daryani and Bekir in hopes of finding the black Formosan mountain dog a permanent family. However, when Batman began to attract lots of media attention, they seized the opportunity to nurture a humanitarian effort.
“Our biggest dream at the end of the day was for him to be able to inspire as many people and pet owners as he could,” Daryani said.
Kim Troung, a UCD graduate student studying pharmacology and toxicology, has a corgi, who, like Batman, lost the use of its hind legs.
“I was scared that I’d have to euthanize him, mainly because of the exorbitant medical costs to fix his condition,” Troung said.
It costs between $5,000 and $7,000 to fix a severe spinal injury, which is common for animals that are hit by cars. Troung, who is receiving financial aid and paying student debt, was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Until she found Batman, of course.
Daryani taught Troung how to express her dog’s bladder and use a wheelchair. “I learned that I could work with my corgi’s special needs rather than making him ‘normal’ again,” Troung said. “It’s a lot of work for someone working full-time. But luckily, my boyfriend and I can take care of him together. The big relief was not having to euthanize.”
Batman has lots of help. His support group recently donated more than $1,000 toward his dog food and medical bills. His prize money from the Hub Network helped pay for braces that have dramatically improved his ability to walk.
His Facebook page has directly saved the lives of three animals, and the Goldwaters are working to use Batman’s “super doggie” powers for good use in the future.
They frequently post information from animal shelters that are seeking homes for dogs facing euthanization. Just this month, a home was found for a pit bull terrier in Manhattan.
Like many others, the Goldwaters fell in love with Batman on Facebook. Dale Goldwater, however, initially had no intention of taking care of a special-needs dog.
“We had a feeling that people would want to adopt Batman,” Daryani said. “He’s sweet and adorable, but it is hard work. It is work to wake up early in the morning to express him, maybe in the middle of the night; his rehab, his medical needs. When you don’t have a routine in the beginning, that’s the worst.”
Dale Goldwater said his mind changed quickly.
“There’s nothing to not like about him. There really isn’t,” he said. “We found a routine, but the best part is Batman gets along with everyone. He is the most charismatic dog I’ve ever seen.”
Batman has an ironic upper hand. While he lacks the ability to use his hind legs, which are crucial for bladder and activity, his personality makes up for it.
The next step in this lucky pup’s life is his certification as a therapy dog for physically disabled children. Puppy Love Dogs, a dog training service in Sacramento, is working with Independent Therapy Dogs, a corporation that brings therapy dogs to events, to teach Batman how to interact with children.
“If physically disabled children were to be visited by Batman, it would have so many positive effects for their emotional development,” said Tierney Gabley, founder of Puppy Love Dogs. “Batman is perfect for this as he will surely pass the temperament test based on his loving personality.”
To find out more about Batman, visit www.facebook.com/helpbatman.