For every Batman there’s an Alfred.
If you’re not familiar with Batman, or if you actually have a life and are interested in more than comic book characters, Alfred is Batman’s butler. Alfred raised Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, after Bruce’s parents were killed and assists Batman from time to time, especially if the Dark Knight is injured while fighting crime. Not only that, but Alfred also keeps Wayne Manor tidy and serves as a sort of sounding board and gatekeeper for Bruce. Alfred loves Bruce as if here were his own son.
I can’t help but draw parallels from these characters as I raise Katniss, my 40-pound, obnoxious, disturbingly needy German shepherd mix. She’s obviously Batman in this scenario, even if her personality is sometimes more similar to that of the Joker, Batman’s nutso arch-enemy. Like Batman, Katniss is the central character and even has pointy ears that resemble Batman’s outfit—she did “try out” to be Bat-hound, after all. That leaves me as Alfred, the most important person in Batman’s life, arguably, who lives behind the scenes and ensures our hero—Katniss—has everything she needs, in addition to cleaning up after her and comforting her when she gets whiny.
Not only do I not get to be Batman, I don’t even get to be Robin, Batman’s sidekick, in my own blog! Sheesh.
I always thought the character of Alfred was sort of boring until Michael Caine portrayed him in the most recent trilogy of Batman movies. Caine delivered the movies’ funniest lines and also some of the most memorable ones (“Some men just want to watch the world burn,” he said, when explaining the Joker’s psychopathic mentality). I think he, as much as Christian Bale’s Batman, is what made the trilogy so excellent.
If you think about it, dear reader, this blog is where I (try to) deliver my zingers, a la Alfred. Meanwhile, Katniss gets all the glory like Batman does. I spent a half hour recently picking up dog poop in the back yard while Katniss sat in the shade and watched me—I thought I even heard her say, “Do my bidding, biped,” but it must have been the wind. Her observing me was sort of like how people watch golf on TV, though I bet watching me scoop poop is still more exciting than golf.
More often than not, people will say “Your dog is so pretty!” once they’ve read this blog, not “The grammar is perfect!” That would be like someone complimenting Alfred on how clean and blood-free the interior of the Batmobile is or how Batman’s cape is always sans wrinkles.
Like Alfred, I consider Katniss as my child much in the way he considers Bruce as his child, even though the two are not related. Katniss is of an entirely different species—we’re definitely not related in a biological sense—but we do have the same last name. And she is my furry child.
Alfred: “I trust you don’t have me followed on my day off.”
Bruce: “If you ever took one, I might.”
The above quote, from “The Dark Knight,” pretty much summarizes my relationship with Katniss, not that she would have me followed: I feel like I can never take a day off from being Katniss’ dad, even though other pet owners seem to have lives of some sort away from their animals. My wife was out of town for the past few days, so I barely left the house as I was afraid to leave Katniss by herself for too long. I rush home from work each day to make sure I can spend time with Katniss and let her get some of her energy out of her system. She even sleeps with us, too, as an odd way to sort of maximize our time together as a family. I recently asked my boss, herself a sort of superhero who has two children, how she juggles her numerous responsibilities, as I felt like I barely had time to do so. Her answer? My dog will get less attention once my wife and I have children. Uh-oh.
But being Alfred isn’t so bad. After all, Katniss has grown into a fine—albeit spoiled, rowdy and over-affectionate—dog who often refuses to listen and wakes me up at all hours of the night so I can let her out, only for her to just stand there and sniff the air. OK, so she’s not perfect, but she’s mine. And I don’t have to be Alfred, I get to be Alfred, right? Katniss is a challenge more often that not mostly because of her high energy level, but I can’t imagine my little BFF any other way.
Bruce: “Haven’t given up on me yet?”
Now that I think of it, this is the quote that sums up Katniss and me the best.