Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Monika Schröder and I write books for young readers. Two of my books are set in Germany, where I grew up. My second novel, Saraswati's Way, is set in India, where my husband and I lived for eight years. I’m here with Frank, an Indian Pariah Dog. We met and adopted him when we lived in New Delhi. He was a street dog. We think Frank is about 3 and a half years old.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I am actually a tea drinker and only recently have begun to drink coffee. Now I usually drink a cup after my nap, to get ready for the afternoon writing session. Frank joins me on the porch, in hopes of getting a morsel of food.
I prefer mild roasted coffee with lots of foamed milk.
Any treats for you or Frank on this occasion?
Frank is always ready for a treat. He likes Milkbones but prefers ‘high-end’ snacks such as Well Bites. If I don’t offer him anything he gives me “the look.” And who could resist these eyes…
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
We couldn’t come up with any Indian name we liked and so my husband suggested “Frank,” a name that is easy to pronounce in German as well as English. We have taken Frank twice to Germany. He likes it there.
How were you and Frank united?
My husband and I used to work at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. We lived on the school’s compound and during winter break 2009/10 we noticed a honey colored street dog “hanging out” outside the school gate. Many dogs live on the streets in India. They often attach themselves to a guard post or a construction site, waiting for handouts. This beautiful, smart looking dog showed up every morning and then began to accompany me on my morning jog. He had the most expressive face and on the last day of winter break we decided to take him in.
It was very challenging for all of us. Frank was still young and in addition to being a puppy he also was a wild animal. He didn’t know how to be a pet. At first, he resented being restrained by a leash or living in an apartment. He chewed up everything and when we smeared soap on the leg of our furniture he found it tasty. Then we bought toys and a “Kong,” which he liked very much. So over time he calmed down and trusted us more.
Now we have moved to North Carolina where we have a house with a garden and he is very happy. He loves watching the cows in the pasture adjacent to our yard.
Does Frank make any contribution to your writing?
He is my main muse. I love watching him curl up and sleep, dream, stretch or lounge around on his pillow or next to me on the sofa. It relaxes me. I also still hope to one day make him the hero of a picture books for kids.
What is Frank's best quality?
He is very independent and smart. I guess he had to develop these qualities when he lived on the streets of Delhi. (As proud parents we even think he might be ‘gifted.’) He also is very strong-willed which can be exasperating. But he also has a good sense of humor and makes us laugh often.
Frank loves being outside. Even in the winter he insists on staying in his bed on the porch, but he needs to be wrapped in a blanket.
Does Frank have a best friend?
Frank did not get along with other dogs at first. Probably because of his bad experience on the streets he stays away from other dogs, or growls when he encounters them on our walks. Off leash, it is a bit easier for him to play. In our new neighborhood lives Bucky, a Jack-Russell Terrier with lots of energy. He loved Frank on first sight and when Frank growled at him at their first encounter Bucky flipped on his back but also quickly got up, wagging his tail and squeaking in delight about having met Frank. He followed us to our house and when I opened the garden gate, Bucky hopped right in. Now the two of them are friends and we pick up Bucky frequently for play dates. They make an unlikely pair, but they are fun to watch when they “play wrestle.”
If Frank could change one thing about you, what would it be?
he had a magic wand I’d love for him to make me more patient.
If Hollywood--or Bollywood--made a movie about your life in which your dog could speak, which actor should do his voice?
I think the comedian and actor Aasiv Mandvi would be a good choice. Many might know him from The Daily Show. Frank would obviously speak with an Indian accent and Aasiv could also deliver the dead-pan lines I’d expect Frank to say. You did not ask me, but I think the role of Monika should be played by Isabella Rossellini. I am sure she could speak in a German accent.
If Frank could answer only one question in English--or German--what would you ask him?
I would like to know what he thinks of having a sister. I would like to adopt a second dog, preferably another young, female Indian street dog. But my husband thinks that Frank would not like to live with another dog. Maybe it’ll be best to let Frank decide.
Visit Monika Schröder's website.