Friday, July 15, 2011

Lavanya Sunkara & Indu

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I am Lavanya. I am an Indian American freelance writer based in New York. In the picture to the right is my two-year-old adopted puppy Indu hiking with me at Copake Falls in upstate NY. I have no idea what breed she is, but I think she has husky in her because of her striking sky blue eyes. She probably also has beagle/shepherd parentage as well. Either way, she has done a fine job adapting to her new family’s Indian customs. My mom taught her to wash her feet before entering the house after her walks to keep the house clean, and Indu does it so religiously that we are amazed each time. She is my first furry baby, and I am incredibly lucky to share my life with her. I have a day job, but I am addicted to writing just as much as I love my dog. I contribute to both online and print magazines regularly, and Indu made appearances in a few articles as well.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

During the week, I stick to tea, but on weekends I like sitting on the backyard swing sipping a hot coffee with Indu by my side. Today, it’s even more special because it’s July 4th and we are headed to Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington in the North Shore of Long Island for a hike and a dip in the bay. We recently celebrated Indu’s 2nd birthday at the preserve with family and friends because she just loves open spaces and cooling off in the summer heat.

What's brewing?

Even after leaving India 16 years ago, I can’t let go of certain habits. Drinking Bru coffee is one of them. Today, I made it with light soy milk (since I am trying to be vegan), and it was heavenly.

Any treats for you or Indu on this occasion?

Indu is on a diet, but I sneak in a few treats every now and then. I gave her Muttos green apple all natural biscuits this morning.

How were you and Indu united?

After years of wanting a dog, I decided the time was right a few years ago and went to North Shore Animal League to adopt. It was Mother’s day and I almost didn’t get Indu because someone else already started paperwork to adopt her. Luckily, the mother whom Indu was intended as a Mother’s day gift didn’t want a pet and I was more than happy to scoop her up and give her a forever home. I was told she was rescued from a puppy mill down south. She was tiny, sick and her ribs showing, but I knew she was going to be my best friend when I saw her blue eyes, sweet innocent face and curious glances.

How did she get her name? Any nicknames?

I was reading a book written by someone with that name. When I looked up what “Indu” meant, I found out it means moon in Sanskrit. Since I am a nature lover, and one of her eyes shines like the full moon, I decided to give that name to her. When she was young, all my family members called her “potti” which means shorty in my native Telugu language. We joke that she didn’t grow tall because of all that teasing. The name stuck, even though she refuses to answer to it.

Please tell us a bit about Indu's role in your writing?

Indu is my first pet, and having an animal as a companion has made me more passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless. Seeing how intelligent and caring Indu is, I have no doubt that other animals are feeling and smart beings that deserve to live good lives. Indu’s presence inspired me to write about domestic, farm and wild animal issues. I contribute as a blogger to wildlife conservationist/TV host Jeff Corwin’s new website.

Does Indu have a favorite place to go for walk?

Indu enjoys hiking a lot, and loves taking in the sights and smells of different areas. But she loves walking around the neighborhood and meeting her friends.

Does she like to get out of the city?

Indu actually has never set her paws in the city.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Squirrel, cat, postman and birds (in that order). I’ve started developing arm muscles from having to control her enthusiasm each time we encounter a squirrel or a cat. But I doubt she’d be able to do any harm to any of the above because she is too kind. She’d probably give them kisses.

What's Indu's best quality?

I am not saying this because Indu is my baby, but she is the best dog ever. People have scared me about getting a dog- messy house, torn shoes, excessive barking or begging, etc. But I am proud to say Indu is the most well behaved pet anyone could have. She obeys orders (other than when chasing squirrels). She waits for her food (there was a time my father placed a treat in front of her and said “no” and she waited a half hour for it). She even barks on command too! And the best of all- she has the finest softest fur, perfect for snuggling (and of course showing off).

If Indu could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

She’d change their attitudes about the great outdoors. She’ll let them know that there is wilderness out there to explore other than Central Park. Instead of putting nose to the grind all the time, why not breathe in some fresh air and smell a few flowers?

What's your dog's proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

Her proudest would be when she learned how to shake “hands” with people. Most embarrassing would be when she sprinkles on the carpet out of excitement when meeting visitors. She just loves everyone!

Visit Lavanya Sunkara's website.

--Marshal Zeringue