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Thursday, October 06, 2016

10 things you didn't know about Sylva Kelegian

Sylva Kelegian
Courtesy Twitter
I had mentioned Hollywood actress Sylva Kelegian earlier, has has spent much of the last decade immersed in a world of dog rescue. Her experiences from innocent dog walker to rescuer of more than 500 dogs (and some cats and a few horses) are recounted in her Book Excellence Award winning memoir, "God Spelled Backwards: The Journey of an Actress into the World of Dog Rescue." 

Sylva will be signing that book and also her award winning children’s book, "The Dolphin Princess," an engaging story that will take readers on a magical journey full of hope at The Bookstore in the Grove on October 29 from 1 to 4 pm

I had a chance to ask Sylva the 10 With Tom Questions.

TOM: I read somewhere that you lived for a few years on Anna Maria Island, is this the island south of Tampa? That's my favorite place in Florida, tell me about life there. It's such a small island, is there much to do for a child?

SYLVA: My mother had visited Anna Maria when she was young and decided to take her children there when she divorced my father.  We had moved from New York so swimming in the Gulf, walking out in high tide, and strolling barefoot through town was paradise to me. I talk about the beauty of Anna Maria in my memoir and the island in my children's book is based on it. I still spend a week almost every summer there as it's my favorite place in the world.   

TOM: You mother was a dancer with American Ballet Theater and your father a pianist at The Metropolitan Opera House. Do you dance and/or sing?

SYLVA: Though I love to dance and sing, I have never done either professionally. My husband has a great 50's/60's band and I sing with him sometimes and dance with all our friends on those nights, but it's just for fun.

TOM: How did you end up in the dog rescue field?

SYLVA: I needed a more balanced life and found myself wanting to give back in some way after years of focusing on myself and acting. I adopted a dog named Sammy, who's the dog on the cover of my memoir and my life changed. I couldn't stand the thought of anything bad happening to her and it opened my eyes to the enormous need of animals in our country. I then spent the next twelve years in-between acting jobs, rescuing and or re-homing over 500 dogs.

TOM: How many dogs do you currently have?

SYLVA: We only have 3 dogs now. Mazie, our 15 year old Shiba Inu mix that Bill Foundation pulled from the South Central Shelter, 9 year old Shadow, a Shepherd/Lab/Coyote mix who was feral when I rescued him from a landfill and 10 year old Nate, our Cocker Spaniel/Dachshund mix who had been dumped at a car lot. I spent three weeks be-friending the tough little guy before I was able to rescue him.

TOM: You are married to actor Jude Ciccolella, how does he feel about all those pets?

SYLVA: My husband is the reason I've been able to save hundreds of dogs. Most of my money over the years has gone into rescue while he covered everything else. I'm lucky as he loves our dogs as much as I do.

TOM: What is the last book you read?

SYLVA: I just finished a book called "RenWomen" by Dale Griffiths Stamos and W. Scott Griffiths. It's a book of interviews with women who are multifaceted and multi-talented. I loved it.

TOM: Who is the most famous person you have met?

SYLVA: I would have to say Clint Eastwood as you can't get any more famous than he is. His daughter, Alison, is my friend and one of my writing partners on "Unleashed," a half hour dark comedy centered around Hollywood and dog rescue that we are in the process of pitching. 

TOM: Favorite decade? And why?

SYLVA: The 70's. I love the music!

TOM: What's something you wanted to do as a child, but never got to do?

SYLVA:  I had a great childhood and traveled often. My step-father was a Coast Guard Captain so we lived in Guam and went to the Philippines, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia. But to answer your question, the only thing missing was that I never got to have a close relationship with my real father.

TOM: What advice do you have for pet lovers to help make their pets live a happy, healthy life?

SYLVA:  Always make your pet part of the family and have them live inside the house with you, not outside. Leaving dogs outside 24/7 is one of the cruelest things you can do to them as they are more social than people and need to be with their family. Exercise your dog daily. Always keep an ID tag on your pet and a microchip in them with updated information. Never walk a dog on a collar as it can slip over their head. Always use a harness or nylon choke. Never leave your dog unattended in a car, tied outside a store, or left alone in a front yard. Dogs are stolen every day, everywhere. And PLEASE SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS.

Thanks, Sylva. See you at The Bookstore!

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