[NP: ND, but ca. 1939]. Photograph (black and white) of Miss Keller with her beloved dog, "Go-Go" an Akita pure bred, inscribed in pencil across the bottom third of photograph, "To Mr. John E. Monahan / in appreciation of his help / fullness. / Cordially / Helen Keller." Size of photograph: 8 inches x 10 inches; matted and framed to overall size of 13 inches x 14 inches; photograph a bit rumpled at corners with some spotting. Still a lovely image of Miss Keller at age 59 seated on large chair with "Go-Go" seated at her feet, one of her hands on his collar and the other across his back. She is smiling and beautifully dressed in suit with fur shawl and hat with large cameo pin at her throat. "Go-go" is almost smiling as well - turned to face the camera with his gentle eyes seeing what his owner cannot.
Helen Keller (1880-1968), noted American lecturer and author, blind and deaf from the age of two, was an international celebrity in a day and time before television and international movie distribution. She is important in the history of the Akita breed as she introduced the first Akita to the United States. In 1937, while on a speaking tour of Japan, she visited the Akita Prefecture (the home of the Akita on the northern most area of the island of Honshu) and commented on how much she admired the breed, designated a national monument in Japan, 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. Miss Keller returned with him to the US, but he died of distemper at the age of eight months. Despite growing political tension between the US and Japan, Miss Keller's request for another Akita eventually brought her Kenzan-Go in July 1939 - an official gift of the Japanese government. "Go-Go" was an older brother of her original dog. He remained her friend until his death at 9 or 10 years of age. Through Kamikaze-go and his brother Kenzan-go, Miss Keller is credited with having introduced the Akita to America. Although most blood lines of today's Akitas are traced back to those animals brought to the US by returning soldiers after 1945, the effect of the well-known Miss Keller having an Akita as her companion was great. This is the only image of the brother of the first American Akita, and the first Akita to live a full life in the US, that we've seen.
Keller's many accomplishments are well-known. She spent her entire life working for the betterment of others' lives, especially the disabled. She supported the equal rights for women, the woman's peace movement, abolition of child labor, Margaret Sanger's birth control movement, and - to the horror of her Alabama relatives - the NAACP! 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN, pp. 65-68. NAW THE MODERN PERIOD, pp. 389-393. See web sites for Akita dogs for further information. Item #9829