Despite being a new addition to the comics, Dick Grayson’s canine companion Haley has won the hearts of comic fans everywhere, and Nightwing writer Tom Taylor (Injustice, All-New Wolverine) just opened up about his inspiration for giving the Blüdhaven hero a pet. Since Nightwing #78, the hero has become a pet owner, taking care of a stray puppy he rescued, but according to Taylor, the adorable dog represents a major facet of Dick’s character.

Nightwing’s dog was introduced in Nightwing #78, written by Taylor with art by Bruno Redondo (Suicide Squad, Titans), where she is saved by Nightwing from a group of violent drunks trying to amuse themselves by kicking her around in the street. Dick originally intends to give her to a shelter, but they quickly form a bond and it’s clear she’ll be sticking around. By way of a fan vote, she was eventually given the name Haley, with the fan nickname “Bitewing” made canon by Tim Drake in Nightwing #81.

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In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Taylor explains “The idea behind Haley was to show that Dick cares for everyone, no matter how small, and to give Dick a constant companion and some unconditional love.” The Bat-Family are no strangers to superhero pets, including such iconic examples as Ace the Bathound and Damian Wayne’s immensely cute Batcow. But Haley is more than just a cute new sidekick for Dick Grayson. Even beyond the much-needed stable source of love and companionship Haley provides Dick, Taylor explains that Haley symbolizes the type of hero Nightwing is aiming to be to Blüdhaven in his new era.

Haley embodies the totality of Dick’s goals as Nightwing. In her introduction, he only finds her because he’s taking the time to fight street-level crime – acts of cruelty in a city so mired in organized crime and systemic corruption that a big-time superhero (tragically) wouldn’t necessarily be expected to stop them. Dick takes Haley in not because it’s his obligation, but because he doesn’t think he’s above caring for others, even if they seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

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Of course, taking care of “everyone” is more difficult than taking in one stray puppy, and the question of how Nightwing has been going about improving life in Blüdhaven has been a central theme of Taylor and Redondo’s work on Nightwing. With his long-lost half-sister, Melinda Zucco, he hopes to address the more powerful sources of injustice in Blüdhaven. And when left a substantial amount of money by Alfred Pennyworth, he also starts a philanthropic foundation in the late butler’s name in order to combat poverty. Nightwing’s mission is not just to fight crime, but to truly make Blüdhaven happier and safer. His mission is to provide love and support, as well as take simple joy in receiving it from the people around him.

By exploring his behavior when faced with the decision of what to do with a poor lost dog in need of a home, Tom Taylor has shown not only what makes Dick Grayson a hero, but also that he is truly motivated by love. Nightwing is not motivated by a desire for vengeance or the tragedy of the losses he’s faced (though with the murder of his parents, he has faced incredible loss), but rather lifted up by the people – and lovable dogs – in his life and driven towards making their lives better through his actions.

Source: Comic Book Resources

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