A year ago when UpperCrust carried a vegan Christmas feature with Marissa Bronfman (of the renowned Canadian Bronfman family), the owner of Bowl Bar, a vegan delivery service, who went on to display her culinary skill at the UpperCrust Food & Wine Show, one thing was clear; Roxy would be by her side, her fuzzy little girl who came into her life 12 years ago at the mere age of 10 weeks.

A life filled with the gift of pets, dogs to cats, birds and hamsters even, the first year of University was tough for the young animal lover. And hence the exuberant pup pranced into her life during the summer that followed to fill in the void. From Canada to Bombay and back again, Roxy has travelled with her mum happily and adjusted well to her surroundings, spreading smiles everywhere she goes. Energetic even today, with people exclaiming she doesn’t seem a day older than when she was in her puppyhood, the tiny furball has brought joy unbound to Marissa.

“Roxy has been traveling on airplanes since she was a puppy, as we used to fly home to visit family in Toronto when we were living in Vancouver,” begins Marissa. “She’s incredibly well-behaved on planes, terribly quiet in her flying bag. From India, we normally stop at Paris before continuing on to Toronto and everyone at the airport calls out, ‘Ma petit chien!’ ‘Ma cherie!’ (What a little dog. My dear). Women and children stop and play with her, some take photos. She’s like a French movie star.”

Soaking in the attention, the furball gels well with people and exudes a personality that belies her diminutive being. Then again, it’s her size that makes it so easy for admirers to lift and cuddle her. Oh she loves a good cuddle, we experience firsthand, as much as running around with abandon. The recent move to a beach neighbourhood is a dream come true for her to lope around on the sand, lap up the lake water and greet the passersby. A people-dog she may be but a dog-dog, not really, just about tolerating the ones she interacts with, to keeping social norms intact.

Cuddles and snuggles are what Marissa and Roxy do best. Quips the former, “That’s our quality time; as are walks on the beach and in the park. She’s well-trained, so is rarely on a leash. Roxy is almost always with me, even at work!” ‘Take your dog to work days’; we just love those, don’t you! Therapeutic and productive, too, you will find; the intermittent barks apart.

“What exactly is work now that you have shifted back to Canada”, we inquire of Marissa. “After more than six amazing years living in Bombay, we are back in Toronto and really loving our return to Canada. I’m doing some consulting work with my digital media agency Moxie Media (started in Bombay in 2010) and working on building Bowl Bar, the vegan food company, launched in Bombay, here in Toronto,” comes the reply.

That’s right, six years flown by for the self-assured woman who deftly made her way through the vegan crowd with her signature Smoothie Bowls, sweet Bliss Balls and luscious Chia Seed Pudding which found fans in fitness conscious figures Anita Dongre, Malaika Arora Khan and Jacqueline Fernandes among others. At the UpperCrust Show, she wowed with a Warm Kale Salad and a creamy Cauliflower Masquerade. Marissa added the glam to vegan and her tall, impressive, attractive and affable person kept the audience invested.

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Carrot & Pumpkin Soup with Cashew Cream.

“It truly was an adventure,” shares the food lover who’s been a vegetarian almost all her life, by choice; and found India to be a culinary Mecca, specially relishing the street food our city boasts of. Making it to our shores on an assignment with International Literacy Canada for The Huffington Post, Marissa reiterates that food is the key to exploring a new culture. From studying Sociology at McGill University, Toronto to working as a journalist – first in New York with NBC Universal and then The Huffington Post – further on as a regular contributor to Huffington, Vogue India, Condenast Traveller and others, even serving as digital media head for Good Earth here, she’s acquired a world view and diversified her credentials. She’s been there and done that.

“I’ve experienced so much now, that being where I am currently, back in my hometown with my furry aide by my side, loved ones, too, life is fabulous.” Another adventure shall unfold, undoubtedly. For now, Marissa and Roxy shall indulge in the magic and frolic of a White Christmas, carving angels in the snow, as the little one loves her winter routine of bouncing around like a bunny rabbit in the fluff. Laughs her mum, “It’s true. She loves snow and her gorgeous double coat keeps her warm. And me! And I do not dress her up, not in a winter coat nor in a summer dress!” Now that is bliss. Warming yourself by a fire with your baby in your lap and your latest read, perhaps even vegan eggnog to sip on – the Nut-Nog of cashew milk – while the stuffing is being baked to go with that Tofurkey… yes, Marissa whips it all up each Christmas, along with the Christmas Chia Seed Pudding to end on a sweet note.

However, Roxy is more a summer and sunny baby, we are told. Mingling with the apples fallen off the tree, looking out at the horizon on the blue waters and getting her daily dose of vitamin D… these are a few of her favourite things. As are organic carrots and dates, which she relishes when Marissa offers them to her as treats. A girl with a good appetite and not fussy at all, it’s hardly a task to feed Roxy. Well, that’s a treasure, for we know the perils of inadequate appetites in our furry babies all too well and the effort in getting a morsel down with ease!

Travel, as we already established, is another of her pleasurable activities. Smiles Marissa, “There are times though when I do love the ability to travel for a short holiday without Roxy when I can. If I know someone I love and trust that person can care for her, then yes. There are so many things to think of and plan when you’re with a dog that it can be quite relaxing to have a few days off once in a while.” Sure thing, we nod. And Princess is pretty independent, also confident of her mum’s return shortly enough.

“Coming home to Roxy is the greatest feeling. What a spirited personality and so much contained in her petite self,” concludes Marissa with a gleam in her eyes and Roxy aware of her every word. As was coined perfectly to suit someone like Roxy, ‘The best things in life come in the smallest packages’. Woof, she says, and a Merry Furry Christmas and New Year to one and all.

This feature was published in Dogs & More, Nov-Dec 2016 issue and published here with prior permisssion from the publisher. Photos courtesy: Farzana Contractor, Dogs & More.