In the early years of Helen Keller's life
being both blind and deaf totally isolated her from a family who loved
her but were at a total loss as to how to reach her. As a last-ditch
effort to keep from institutionalizing her, they engaged a pioneering teacher,
Anne Sullivan, to work with her. Through her teacher's efforts, Helen
emerged from her solitary world to become an articulate, intelligent, poised
woman of great character.
Most of what we know about her today probably comes
from watching The Miracle Worker. The movie runs frequently
on television stations, and the play is still a staple of drama tournaments
and regional theater. Based on her book about her teacher, the story
has kept Helen Keller alive in our memories, but it unfortunately it tells
about only a small portion of her remarkable life.
In a day and time before television and international
movie distribution, Helen Keller was an international celebrity.
Her triumph over great adversity was a well known and much admired story,
and she was welcomed everywhere to champion the message that all people
are valuable and can contribute if they are allowed.
She can easily be considered one of the best known
people of her day and
is even important in the history of the the Akita breed. Her
courage inspired the respect of the people of Japan. On a speaking tour
of the country, her visit to the Akita Prefecture reminded her of Hachi-Ko's
story which she had heard. She commented on how much she admired
the dog and that she would like to have such a dog for herself. As
a measure of the respect in which she was held, Mr. Ichiro Ogasawara, a
policeman in the area, presented her with a puppy called Kamikaze-Go.
Thus, Helen Keller was the first person to bring an Akita to the United
States. (Linderman, 16-17)
Although he died of distemper at eight months,
his steadfast devotion and "gentle companionship" quickly brought Helen
Keller into the fold of Akita admirers. Despite growing political
tension between the US and Japan, Miss Keller's request for another Akita
eventually brought her Kenzan-Go in 1939. A brother to her original dog,
"Go-Go," as he was called, remained her friend until his death at 9 or
10 years of age. (Bouyet, 10)
Helen Keller and Kenzan-Go
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