"From scrappy Scotties to dignified Great Danes to a famous Akita, dogs always brought joy to Helen Keller." - Perkins School for the Blind
|Helen Keller and Sir Thomas (Phiz)|
Helen Keller loved dogs, and she always had at least one as a pet from early childhood to the very end of her life. When she was young, she tried to communicate with her dog Belle by finger spelling on her paw. Belle never did learn. "I tried hard to teach her my sign language, but she was dull and inattentive," wrote Keller. When she attended college, her classmates gave her a Boston bull terrier which she named Sir Thomas. Sir Thomas, more commonly known as Phiz, would accompany her to her classes and wait for her patiently until the class was over. In the 1930s when Keller visited Japan she heard the story of Hachiko, the loyal Akita. She was given one as a gift, named Kamikaze-Go, but unfortunately the puppy died from distemper shortly after Keller returned to the US. Keller was heartbroken. The Japanese government heard of the news so arrangements were made to send Kamikaze's younger brother to her. Kenzan-Go, Go-Go for short, lived a full life. Keller helped introduce the Akita breed to the US, and referred to them as "angels in fur".
If given the chance to see, the first thing Keller wanted to do was "look into the loyal, trusting eyes of my dogs... whose warm, tender, and playful friendships are so comforting to me."
"They [dogs] have always been my companions. A dog has never failed me." - Helen Keller