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Batman in Memoriam (1998-2010)

Dear friends,

Thank you for taking the time to read about our beloved companion Batman. Every dog is special to his family, but we were extremely fortunate that Batman's life also had an impact on the lives of many others. In July 2008, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a few weeks to live, Batman became the first dog to participate in an animal research study for a pioneering new treatment developed at the University of Minnesota. A charming and photogenic survivor, Batman became the poster dog for Dr. Ohlfest's brain tumor research program at the U of MN, helping to bring national attention to the study, and to raise funds for further research that has already saved over a dozen other dogs and will eventually lead to human trials for the treatment.

In the 18 months following the surgery and vaccine protocol, Batman was almost entirely back to his normal, mellow, puppyish self, and we cherished every extra trip to the park and every extra cuddle on the couch that the experimental treatment had granted us. It was a miraculous gift. Unfortunately, curing the brain tumor did not get rid of the seizures originally caused by the tumor growth. With his indefatigable spirit, Batman repeatedly recovered from the aftermath of a half-dozen serious grand mal episodes that left him temporarily blind and weakened for hours, sometimes days, at a time. He always bounced back as strong and healthy as ever, and we are deeply saddened that our miraculous survivor has finally run out of second chances.

On Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Batman suffered a prolonged series of seizures (and likely a stroke) that left him with severe muscle damage and immobolized him for several days. A fighter to the last, he was beginning to regain his strength and appetite when his lungs suddenly began to fill with fluid on the morning of January 18. It was a hearbreaking decision, but we had to let him go. He died that afternoon in his favorite place on the couch where, as you can see from the pictures below, he had spent many cozy hours. The autopsy later revealed that his heart had been damaged beyond repair by the seizures. But the tumor had not regrown. He had lived far longer than anyone expected, and was still cancer-free when he died!

Batman led a life graced with good fortune. Abused and abandoned on the streets of Berlin, he found us–his new family–one wet November night outside an after-hours party. With love and training, he developed into the gentlest, friendliest, most affectionate perpetual puppy, and no dog could have enjoyed more the extra 18 months of life he was granted by the cutting-edge treatment he received at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Clinic. We hope that you will join us in celebrating Batman's life and legacy by helping to extend the lives of many other dogs, and eventually people, diagnosed with terminal brain tumors.

With gratitude for your sympathy and support,

Anna, Eric, Charles, and Addison

visit the UMN Batman archive to see news coverage about his story
or watch a UMN video