Vikas Khanna embracing pet parent


Jyaneswar Laishram
Indian chef, restaurateur, cookbook writer, filmmaker, humanitarian… and most of all, a pet lover, Vikas Khanna has a lovely tale to be told about his dogs—Tiddy and Plum. He considers his pet dogs as one of the best parts of his life. They are his comfort, friends and family.–by Jyaneswar Laishram

Born in Amritsar, Vikas Khanna is now based in New York City. He had a mixed Pomeranian called Tiddy when he was young and just beginning to go to college. It was the time when he started entering the cooking career as a profession. “Tiddy was my little baby and she was my kitchen taster, she was my guinea pig, she was always with me when I was cooking,” recalls Vikas, adding that she was his support system and his best friend.

He continues, “It was the time when long-distance call was very expensive. However, whenever I called from college in south India to my parents in north I always kept asking them, ‘Please tell Tiddy to bark’. After working in Mumbai, Vikas left his job and came home. The day he reached home Tiddy had been sick and she passed away after a few hours.

A hard time
Still lingering on the sadness of losing Tiddy, Vikas says, “I never could forgive myself and could never recover in many ways from Tiddy for more than 24 years. It was very hard for me. My sister was very insistent, telling me I should get another dog.” He adds, “For me, I feel that they give you a lot. They forgive you, they care for you and they love you a lot. And somehow they leave you too soon.”

Love at first sight
Vikas kept looking at other people’s dogs and thought of getting a little Pom. It was after a long gap he decided to have a little Pom in his life. He went to a lady breeder where he met some other breeds too, but he always loved the Pom. When he asked her for a Pom, she said ‘no’ and offered him Maltese, saying, “Have you ever seen them?” He said ‘yes’ because his neighbour had one. Then he fell in love with the breed at first sight.

Meeting crazy Plum
Amid the group of Maltese pups was one who moved so crazy, so efficient and just hugging Vikas. It was Plum—his current dog. “The moment he saw me, he was as if saying ‘Oh I was searching for you’. ‘Me too’, I replied,” says Vikas. The incident was so amazing. One of his friends captured the love story on camera. Vikas adds, “It’s so amazing how they give you so much. How they root you, ground you, in many ways. They are your comfort, they are your friend and they are your family. This has been one of the best parts of life.”

Studio dog
Plum or full name ‘Plum Khanna’ is now five months old. He is amazing white with little golden blonde fur. “He doesn’t like going to my apartment, just a regular New York City apartment. He loves to be in my studio. He loves socilaising and playing with a lot of people there, this is something very interesting. Every time I see him the first thing he brings is his toys and he wants me to chase and catch them,” narrates Vikas.

Outdoors together
“I take him to small walks and hikes. Sometimes I take him to ferry boat rides, which have been our regularly activities since he was a pup. He accompanies me for bike rides in Central Park. He absolutely loves it. It’s difficult for me to bike alone these days as I have to put him on the bike and take him,” tells Vikas.

Soul mate
On alternate weekends, the two go to Madison Square Garden where there is a dog park which Plum really likes. Plum also loves spending time with Vikas’ sister Radhika. “Actually, he loves my sister more than me. He is totally my sister’s soul mate. When he goes to her house he spends some weekends—he is the boss there,” says Vikas. Even Vikas is ignored when Radhika is around.

Healing paws
For Vikas, spending time with Plum gives him mental peace, especially in the post-pandemic time when he has not been able to travel much and not been able to do many things. In this respect, he shares, “I am very proud that I have been able to put this perspective in my mind that a pet can heal us so easily.”

Same attitude
On what he loves about Plum, Vikas says, “I love his dedication, honesty and friendship. In a way, I love Plum’s attitude that really makes me laugh. We take him to his training school and he doesn’t want to do what the trainer tells him to do, we share the same attitude. He is very hard-headed which I absolutely love about him.”

Travelling partner
Vikas works kind of 365 days a year. He doesn’t take any vacation break. That’s why Plum doesn’t get the chance to go to vacation with his chef pet parent. However, it is on work purpose trips only when Plum travels with Vikas. “It’s really good to have him around wherever I go. He is a good travel partner because he enjoys people. When I take him to new places he is confident and happy,” says Vikas.

Son of a chef
When it comes to Plum’s nutrition, diet, treats and exercise routines, Vikas takes care of everything very closely. “We have an open space for him to run and a lot of people around to play with him. Our evening walks, we do it religiously everyday at 10:30 in the night. It is a must,” he mentions. About health, Plum has an amazing vet who looks after everything and guides Vikas to follow them properly.

“Plum loves fish stick made of dry fish skin. When he gets it you cannot find him anywhere for the next 30 minutes, he doesn’t talk to anyone while gorging on it,” says Vikas, adding that he loves dessert chicken biscuit too. He conclusively says that Plum gets the best because he is ‘son of a chef’.
Favourite activity together: Digging! Maltese is rat hunter. So, if I scratch little on the mattress he goes crazy, starts scratching and digging.
His annoying habit: He is teething, so he still bites.
His funny/crazy antics: He starts learning to do namaste, it drives me nuts.
Quality you love most about him: He is a socialite who socialises with everyone and changes the energy around us.