Pet owners often wish they could talk to their pets, whether to gauge their general health or needs, or just to know what makes them tick. While most of these conversations don't go very far, that's not the case for Teresa Adamo and Indy, the family dog.
Since adopting the pup from the Kern County Animal Shelter in 2008, Adamo has speculated where her terri-doodle spent her early years. Those canine "chats" and speculation have come to fruition in the new children's book "Indy, Oh Indy: Wanderin' the Streets of Bakersfield."
"Ask anyone — I regularly 'talk' to Indy," Adamo wrote in an email. "Our 'conversations' really did include chats about where she may have come from, how she could have wandered all around Bakersfield and beyond and who she may have met along the way.
"I’m quite convinced Indy was well taken care of, never abused — she was loved for sure. I’m actually very grateful to any and all of her former 'pack leaders,' but I’m even more grateful that she became a member of our pack."
That pack includes husband Felix, whom she met while they both worked at The Bakersfield Californian, sons Zane and Cooper and Tele, a tortoise that lives in the backyard.
Although Indy and the Adamos have enjoyed many adventures of their own, the book focuses on stories of other friendly people and Kern County spots — the cover has her walking in front of the Bakersfield sign — all depicted in Adamo's rhyming verse and illustrations by local artist Jennifer Williams-Cordova.
Adamo said, "The collaboration with Jen on the art and the story, melding it all together with her creations, our talks about font and my obsession with incorporating a 'silly page' (which is the 'Belly Rub' page, a double-truck spread of Indy getting her all-time favorite sign of affection!) — all of it resulted in this sweet book about a sweet dog that we think children and their parents and grandparents are going to love."
Writing is no issue for Adamo, a former journalist and now communication manager for Adventist Health Bakersfield, but this was her first foray into fiction. While she described the writing process as "amazing," she said it was also challenging to write the rhymes.
When the seed of the story came to her very late one night — 3:26 a.m. — she made sure to include that number in her tale.
"There’s a page in the book that Jen and I affectionately call the “Granny Pearl” page and the Fox Theater clock tower is in the background … with the time of … you guessed it … 3:26."
Adamo said she and Williams-Cordova took great joy in adding hidden gems like the number and the boxcar, a tribute to Merle Haggard and Buck Owens in which Indy, Tele and a Labrador named Ben (a nod to the illustrator's family dog) take a musical interlude.
"All three of the animals are in a boxcar (think: Merle), playing instruments (Ben is actually strumming a red-white-and-blue Buck Owens guitar) and I’d like to think they’re singing their own version of 'Streets of Bakersfield.'"
(Another Easter egg on that page is the silver wings pin on Indy’s classic hobo hat, a reference to “Silver Wings," one of the creators' all-time favorite Haggard songs.)
Since the book was released late last month, feedback has been good, Adamo said.
"We’ve received incredible response about the book — we think the formula of a dog, plus Bakersfield, plus a positive message about a shelter animal finding a loving home and that family finding a loving pet is just win-win-win all the way around!"
Signings and school visits are on the agenda but don't expect Indy to hang up her hobo hat just yet.
Adamo said, "We are already thinking of new adventures that Indy could go on ... I would absolutely love to keep the 'Indy, Oh Indy' story going — she’s a remarkable dog and it’s been my honor to be one of her pack leaders. Plus, anything we can do to encourage responsible pet ownership and to promote Bakersfield at the same time, we want to be a part of that."
The book ($10) is available at indyohindy.com, Cafe Smitten (909 18th St.) and Fast & Furriest Pet Salon (4000 Fruitvale Ave.). A portion of proceeds from each sale will benefit Kern County Animal Services and Bakersfield SPCA.