Monday, September 7, 2009

Laurie Sandell & Violet

Who is in the photo at right?

Laurie Sandell, contributing editor at "Glamour" and author of the graphic memoir "The Impostor’s Daughter," with Violet, her four(ish)-year-old Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I often write at this coffee shop in my Brooklyn neighborhood; it’s called Bittersweet. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed inside, so on special occasions like this one, we hang out on a bench in front of the shop.

What's brewing?

Decaf Americano. I like it hot—even in the summertime.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

They don’t have much in the way of food, here, but when I do order an item it’s usually made out of bread and has the same calorie count as a Double Whopper.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Violet turns her nose up at treats, unless you’re offering steak.

How did Violet come to be united with you?

A friend of mine, Alison Smith, who wrote the memoir "Name All The Animals," was fostering her after finding her on a euthanasia list at a Bronx shelter. I met Violet (then named “Susan”) at an animal hospital where she was recovering from kennel cough, and she jumped into my lap. The vet said, “Wow, she really likes you!” Later I realized she leaps into everyone’s lap the moment she meets them.

How did Violet get her name?

This is a little embarrassing. A week before I got Violet, I interviewed Jennifer Garner for the cover of "Glamour." She has a cute little daughter named Violet, and, well…you do the math.

Has Violet influenced your writing in any way?

Yes, I have to force myself to write about other things, when all I want to write about is Violet. She appears on my blog a lot, but I try to keep the posts short and casual. I don’t want to turn into the crazy dog lady online…I already am that, in real life.

What's an ordinary day like for your dog?

I’m on contract with "Glamour," which means I get to work from home, so we spend lots of time together. But I also spend part of the day working in coffee shops. When I’m away she watches "Ellen," suns herself in a window seat and makes dozens of long-distance calls. We’ve had a few stern conversations about it.

Who is Violet's best pet-pal?

Sigh. She’s not a big fan of dogs—she doesn’t even let them sniff her. When they try, she tucks her tail tightly between her legs, arches her back like a cat and throws a look over her shoulder like, “Ex-squeeze me?” Thankfully, she loves humans.

What's Violet's best quality?

She doesn’t bark, chew, lick, or destroy things. She has zero separation anxiety, and arrived from the shelter completely wee-wee pad trained. From time to time, she growls in her sleep, which is the cutest thing ever. She also likes to bite her leash [see photo, left], which I’ve been told is a behavioral problem, but I find it adorable.

What's Violet's proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

Her proudest moment was when she sat perfectly still in her bag all the way from LAX to JFK. Her most embarrassing moment came a few hours later, when I took her out of her bag at JFK and she pooped on the floor of the terminal with about 100 people watching. I’ll tell you something, though: As I squatted down and attempted to scoop it up with my boarding pass, she didn’t look sufficiently embarrassed.

Laurie Sandell is a contributing editor at "Glamour," where she writes cover stories, features, and personal essays. She has also written for "Esquire," "GQ," "New York," and "InStyle," among other publications.

"The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir," her first book, has been praised by such writers as Nathan Englander, Carole Radziwill, and A.J. Jacobs. Susan Orlean, author of "The Orchid Thief," said "'The Impostor’s Daughter' is funny, frank, and absolutely engaging. It’s about truth and consequences and families and men and women and fame and, well, life itself. It’s wonderful."

Visit Laurie Sandell's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue