We all know the truly inspiring story of Helen Keller (or at least we should), but what does she have to do with Akita dogs?

According to Wikipedia, Helen Keller was an author, lecturer, activist, and the first deaf/blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller was left blind and deaf from an infection she developed just before she turned 2.

Helen Keller's journey is quite inspiring and, if you haven't read "The Story of My Life", it would well be worth your time.

Now, getting to the Akita breed, and what Helen Keller has to do with them.

When Helen Keller visited Japan, she inquired about Hachikō, the dog famous for his loyalty.  Hachikō was an Akita, owned by a professor who commuted via public transit to his job at the local university. Every day, Hachikō would walk to the train station with his owner, see him off on the train, then walk home. When the train would arrive at the end of the day, Hachikō would be waiting at the station, and he and his owner would walk home together. This went on for two years, with Hachikō meeting the train at the precise time each day.

One day, the owner didn't return, having suffered and died from a brain hemorrhage at work. Hachikō arrived at the station and waited. And waited, and waited.

Eventually, Hachikō went home, but he would return each afternoon (at the precise time the train arrived) to look for his owner. Hachikō did this for 9 years, faithfully.

Hachikō became a legend all across Japan, and there are statues erected in his likeness. His fur was preserved and stuffed and is on display at the National Science Museum in Japan. His body was cremated and its ashes buried next to his owner.

Now, back to Helen Keller: while on her visit to Japan, and after she inquired about Hachikō, she was gifted with an Akita: Kamikaze-go. Unfortunately, that dog died within a few months, but the Japanese government gifted her another (Kenzan-go).

It was Helen Keller who introduced the Akita breed to the United States. In less than 2 years, a breed standard for Akitas had been set in the US and members of the breed began to participate in dog shows.

The next time you see an Akita in the US, consider the possibility of that pup being a direct descendant of Helen Keller's dog. Kind of cool, no?

(Wiki, Akita Club)