He was born on 19th August 2003 and came to us in January 2004. I wasn't sure about having him at the time. We'd lost our previous family dog Spider, a sassi white staffordshire bull terrier, three months earlier and it just seemed disrespectful to replace her so soon.
She was very much my husband's dog. I loved her of course but we never got really close. She loved him and I was a poor substitute.
When she died there was an emptiness in the house. The kids missed her. My husband missed his evening's walk with her and the way she would faithfully wait, untethered, as he popped into the shop; the way she would pine for him whenever he left the house without her.
The hole she left in our family motivated my other half to want another dog as soon as possible and when he saw a white boxer for sale in the local paper, he was determined to check him out and an hour later a gawky, clumsy, bouncy five month old whirlwind dragged my other half into the house and headed straight for me.
He stood on his hind legs with his front legs hugged around me and then he laid his head on my shoulder. I was suckered.
There were times when that special Batty hug was a comfort like no other living animal could give. My husband never bonded with him quite and in truth, he came too soon after the loss of Spider the Staffy which is why my other half couldn't love him quite the same but I adored him immediately.
Batty came to us with the name Bruno. I suppose because he was a boxer but he was more of a lover than a fighter and it didn't really suit him. During a fun mock boxing match with my other half, he remarked how Bruno fought like a Battyboy and the name stuck. He was certainly in touch with his feminine side. We still used Bruno when he was in trouble or when he needed the authoritarian voice.
Batty was just a huge mass of energy and he did everything with gusto. My other half had been used to walking Spider who would toddle along at his side off the lead. When Batty was first unleashed, my other half chased him for hours before he could get him back.
Batty was also sociable to other dogs but he irritated the life out of some by wanting to play and tease until they'd turn on him and then he'd gallop off like a horse. There was a pond on the common where he walked. One day he hurtled towards it. We watched in horror as he sank in the middle but suddenly Batty bounced out of the water like he'd landed on a coiled spring and then took off with us chasing him again . I trained him to come back by taking cocktail sausages on the walk and rewarding him each time he returned.
His last owners wanted rid of him because he was destructive and had eaten through a settee. He was spoiled rotten there and they couldn't cope with him because he thought he owned the house. My other half has always been great with dogs because he treats them like dogs, not children, with respect, and lets them know who's boss and where the boundaries lie.
He chased Batty out of the house in anger one morning when we got up and found he had literally chewed the plaster off the kitchen wall down to the brick. Batty hid behind a bush in the garden and wouldn't come out for anyone but me and then I got one of those cuddles again. Perhaps he needed them too.
When we took him to the vet's for his jabs, we were told that as a white boxer he had a very short life span and would probably not live longer than 8 to 10 years. He was three and in his prime when we were approached about breeding him with a friend's female boxer.
We'd been told that if he mated he would calm down and it seemed a great idea to have one of his puppies from the litter. He was such a lovely dog that I wanted to be sure that his genes would continue and if we couldn't have him for long, then at least we'd have part of him for a bit longer.
The second litter of puppies Batty fathered were like mini clones of him and Toad. If only I could have kept them both too but at least I have their photo if I'll never know how they get on with their new owners and Toad and Batty were quite enough of a handful - except when they slept.
We wondered what the problem was but at first we didn't take it too seriously. He'd gone off his food before but usually when we changed brand of dog food. He was drinking water but when he still refused food the next day, and turned away from his favourite treats like bacon, sausages and cake, we began to worry a lot.
Our village vet is only open three days a week so Batty had been off his food for four days before we could get him in. He went downhill rapidly. We had one sleepless night wondering if he'd make it. The news when it came was the worst. The vet wanted to put him down there and then but my other half wanted to bring him home one last time so we could all say our final goodbye.
The last two days of his life were full of pain. He slept, drank water and puked continually when he didn't sleep. Toad paced the house for two nights whimpering as Batty lay there almost lifeless. It was pitiful. I wished he'd been put out of misery rather than coming home to say goodbye. That was for our benefit and not his and we shouldn't have put through that extra day. My last memory of him is the smile he gave me as I helped my other half lift him into the car for the last visit to the vet.
He didn't move as he lay on the back seat but seemed focussed on the scenery as it flashed past the window as the car moved. He was a bit of a dreamer. There were many times on holiday and in walks in the countryside when he would just sit and gaze out as if he was taking in the view.
His last breath was a sigh of relief . It was a comfort to hear. His time had come and he was ready to go. Whether he and Toad had The Big Conversation in their own way during those last two nights can't be known but Toad seems to have accepted that Batty, his dad, is never coming back. He hasn't fretted, paced or whined at all but he is a much quieter and calmer dog now that Batty has gone.
Perhaps he's finally grown up. I'm dreading the thought that his time might be as short as Batty's and now I know why boxer dogs are so energetic. They have so much life to cram into such a brief time on earth.
Batty may have been here for just less than nine years but he will live with me and in my heart for lifetime and I am comforted to know that he gave us Toad who has his same gentle soul. He has lived in his dad's shadow since coming to our house and now is his time. I want to make sure that the years he has left will be the best of his life.