Monday, March 19, 2012

Womens History Month Famous Women and Dogs-Hellen Keller

Today the value of dogs in helping people with disabilities is well established there are guide dogs for the blind,   hearing dogs for the deaf, seizure alert dogs, therapy dogs for children and adults with autism, and mobility service dog for people with physical disabilities, to name a few.    Dogs had been assisting people with visual impairments and other disabilities for centuries before the first formal Guide Dog Training schools where established after WWI.    One famous woman with a disability who benefited from the companionship of dogs was Helen Keller.

Helen had lived with dogs in her parents home and had had a Cocker Spaniel as a young girl, but she became the guardian of her own dog in 1902 when she was given a Boston Bull Terrier, the proto-type of today's Boston Terrier breed. 

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_PNESGwoU4lk/S9eWlekEdSI/AAAAAAAAC20/gOcQrXBBRuo/s1600/Helen_Keller2.jpg 

 The dog was a gift from Helen's friends at Radcliffe College.   Sir Thomas was known to have a particularly sweet and calm temperament which probably made him an adept informal service dog.   He regularly accompanied his mistress to lectures and would wait patiently until class was over and then accompany her back home.



As close as she was to Thomas, Helen Keller's real canine love came later in her life.   In the 1930s when Keller was in her fifties she visited Japan on a speaking tour.   Keller had great regard for Japanese culture and was very popular on  her visit.   While in Japan she heard the story of Hachiko, the famously loyal Akita.  Keller expressed interest in getting an Akita of her own and before she left the country she was gifted a young Akita pup, named Kamikaze-Go.  Sadly, the dog passed away at the age of 7 1/2 months from distemper.   Keller was devastated.  Hearing of her heart break the Japanese government arranged for her to receive another Akita pup, Kenzan-Go, the younger brother of Kamikaze.   Go-Go as Keller called him was a loyal companion and a source of endless delight to her until the end of his days.  Through the two dogs Keller introduced the Akita breed to the United States.  She called her Akita companions "angels in fur."


http://www.irishdogs.ie/Forum/uploads/2365/helen_keller_akita.jpg 

14 comments:

  1. Great story, thanks. I'm trying to imagine life with a dog without being able to see or hear the dog. It would be completely different, but just as wonderful.

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  2. It must have been challenging for the dogs to learn too as they do depend so much on verbal/visual communication. It shows how adaptable they are in developing relationships.

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  3. Dogs are such loving companions, especially to those with a disability. Thanks for sharing the story of Helen Keller - I never knew about her dogs.

    Nina, Myshka, Sasha, Betsy, Lucy, Phoebe and Lily

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  4. That is fascinating, I never knew she had an Akita. Dogs have such an amazing ability to understand what their people are feeling, I imagine it must make for a very special bond with someone who can't communicate verbally.
    I wonder if her dog's learned sign language.

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  5. Very interesting, thanks for sharing!
    Love,
    Payton

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  6. Great post! My husband had never seen the movie about Helen Keller until last year. I always found it so fascinating but I never knew she had a dog!

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  7. What a wonderful story of Helen Keller! I truly had no idea of her life other than her childhood so I found this very interesting..made me want to learn more about that very amazing woman.

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  8. Thanks for sharing! Helen Keller was truly an amazing woman!

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  9. Such an interesting read! Go HELEN! I think dogs can be so beneficial to human beings and it really goes beyond just being your every day companion. Thanks for sharing this.

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  10. Sooooo interesting - thanks for sharing this!
    Stewey

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  11. thanks for sharing this story. this is something i didn't know about helen keller (her dogs). it's sad how like human vaccinations, there weren't ones for animals during that time.

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  12. furry much interesting and mommish want you to know she is obsessed with vintage photos of doggies. we cant wait until our woggie pibble house is built because she plans to decorate it with vintage pictures

    pibble sugars
    the pittie pack

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  13. Wow, never knew this! So cool that she had a Boston. You know, we are partial to the breed here :)

    Kitty+Coco

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