Helen Keller & the Boston Terrier

It’s widely known that Helen Keller owned Chow Chows, Akitas, and a Pit Bull Terrier, but perhaps not as well known is that she also owned a Boston Terrier named “Sir Thomas” who was given to Helen by her classmates at Radcliffe.

As the story goes, Helen’s spaniel, “Dixie” had been hit and killed by a car the previous year. Dixie had come from the Presto Kennels in Newton to which Helen and her companion, Miss Sullivan, returned to look for another spaniel. Near the end of the visit, the breeder said, “Now let me show you the real dogs, my prize fellows,” and he lead them to Boston Terriers. Among them was Sir Thomas of whom the breeder said, “He’s an independent fellow and never makes friends with anybody.” Helen bent over the fence to touch him, and Sir Thomas begged to get out to be with her. When it was time for Keller to leave, Sir Thomas was bereft.

This got Helen’s classmates to thinking and soon, donations were being made from all over the country to purchase Sir Thomas for Helen for a discounted price from the breeder.

After the school’s mid-term exams were completed, an unsuspecting Helen waited in a room surrounded by friends. The breeder’s daughter was in attendance and as Sir Thomas was walked into the room, she announced, “It is my pleasure and honor to offer you Sir Thomas with love from your many friends. We know that your dear companion (Miss Sullivan) will not be envious of your affection for your dog, nor of the dog’s love for you.”

Image: Boston Terrier by Weeze Mace – ArtbyWeeze

2 thoughts on “Helen Keller & the Boston Terrier”

  1. this is such a sweet story! I have been reading about Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan off and on since I was about 12. I’m 61 now. When I adopted my first boston terrier 2&1/2 years ago, I started researching this breed and was surprised to learn that Helen Keller had been owned by a boston terrier as well. How she had time to care for a boston terrier and meet the demands of attending Radcliffe College, I don’t know, but she probably had help. I’d always assumed that her classmates had gone out and gotten this dog for her without her having even met the dog beforehand. And I’ve thought to myself that giving a busy student a dog is probably not such a good idea. But knowing Sullivan and Keller, I’m sure he was well cared for. But when I read this story, It so touched my heart that I started crying. Sir Thomas knew there was something special about Helen Keller. Thank you for posting this! Laura

    • What a lovely comment to share, Laura, thank you for this. Keller and Sullivan were remarkable women whose courage is so very admirable. We never tire of their story, either.

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