Service Dog Gets His Own Yearbook Photo, Right Next to His Human
Taxi Benke's photo is easy to spot in the 2014 yearbook from San Antonio's Hector Garcia Middle School: He's a dog.
For the past four years, Taxi has been helping Rachel Benke, 14, with a seizure disorder that has plagued her since birth. Rachel was completely nonverbal and ate mostly baby food until the age of six, when she got two brain surgeries that changed her life.
"She started eating, started talking, started learning. We were told she would probably never be able to read, and now she's reading Dr. Seuss books by herself, and some chapter books," Rachel's mom, Teresa, told Today.
The surgery also reduced the frequency of her epileptic seizures, which used to happen as many as 200 times a day. But they're not completely gone, and that's why she needs Taxi.
The dog can tell Rachel is going to have a seizure more than an hour before it happens, giving her enough time to warn her family or teachers. He's already saved her life at least twice: once on a trampoline, and once in a swimming pool.
Taxi is a regular fixture at the middle school, going to class with Rachel every day. Her mom joked last year that he should have his own photo in the yearbook.
And now he does.
The photo is especially meaningful to the Benkes because the school district hasn't always been supportive. When Rachel was elementary school, the principal considered Taxi a distraction, and her mom had to file a complaint to keep the dog there.
"It's been fun, and it's been even more fun watching [Rachel] get excited about it. Three years ago this wouldn't have even registered for her," Teresa said.