Friday, December 10, 2010

Homeless Italian dog inspires book

Bella goes from Depressa to Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Bella and her owner, Helcia Graf, have joined forces to tell Bella’s story of coming to Sun Valley in the children’s book “From Italy with Love.” Photo by Willy Cook

Ketchum resident Helcia Graf has lived in the Wood River Valley for several decades. On a trip to Italy not so long ago, Graf came back with her new dog, Bella. Graf rescued Bella from the streets of Depressa, Italy, and brought her back to Ketchum. Bella's story is told in a new book, "From Italy with Love: A Homeless Italian Street Dog Comes to America." The book is available at valley bookstores for $20.

Graf did the illustrations for the book, which was created and bound in Ketchum at the Copy Center. It has translations of Italian words and it teaches pet responsibility.

"It's an example of why dogs should be spayed and neutered," said Terry Tischer, who co-wrote Bella's story with Lyn Stallard. "It is a real problem internationally."

Tischer, Stallard and Graf are longtime supporters of the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley. Stallard helped start the shelter in 1973 and served as president and board member for many years. Tischer has served on the shelter board as well and was head of the shelter's education division. Graf owned the Ketchum restaurant A Matter of Taste and is also a shelter supporter.


Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the animal shelter. Tischer said two cases of the book are going to Children's Hospital Los Angeles to be given to all the children at the hospital because it is a story of hope.

"Bella will be available for introductions at readings over the Christmas holidays," Tischer said. "She is the face of hope for all animals."

Bella is a petit basset griffon vendéen mix, but Graf had Bella's DNA test done, which came back as Bella being a German shepherd. Graf said the DNA test results were hilarious since Bella only stands a few short-inches off the ground.

"The book is a true story and nothing was exaggerated," Tischer said. "We could have added more."

Bella will appear at a book singing on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. at Giacobbi Square Down Under in Ketchum. For details, visit

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