Owner of Gigi's in Omaha gives back with help of some special furry friends.
December 10, 2013
Kaden Becker is a 12-year-old special education student at Elkhorn Middle School.
Bo Jolly Rogers is a 4-year-old, 135-pound Bernese mountain dog.
They are great friends, Becker and Bo.They
go back to Kaden's elementary school days, when the big dog first
lumbered into his life. Kaden cannot see Bo, but he hears Bo coming
because wherever Bo goes he's greeted by cheers. And when Bo is near,
Kaden's face — there's no other way to put this — lights up. His
teachers lift him from his wheelchair and lay him beside the mountain
dog. Bo licks his face and Kaden's smile rolls into a laugh, and for
several minutes they rest side by side, Bo's giant paw against Kaden's
arm, their heads inches apart.It is early on a Wednesday morning, and if there's a better way to start a day than this, good luck finding it.
the floor with Kaden and Bo is the woman who introduced them. Her name
is SuZanne Rogers. She wears the yellow T-shirt of a Domesti-PUPS
ambassador, her auburn hair pulled into a side ponytail, her smile
bright. She could pass for a country music star, but here at Elkhorn
Middle School she's more important than that.
Every Wednesday she
visits. If she doesn't bring Bo, she brings Gracie, her 11-year-old
golden retriever. Both are certified therapy dogs. Rogers trained with
them to become a certified therapy dog handler, bringing support and
kindness to schools and hospitals. She knows firsthand what such a visit
can mean for someone who needs it.Today he's a healthy
16-year-old, but when Rogers' son Jack was in third grade, he ran a high
fever that sent him to the hospital. Rogers and her husband, Grant,
were scared, stressed as only parents of a hospitalized child can be
stressed, when a therapy dog team visited Jack's room and something
happened. Something in them all lifted a little.
A few days later,
when Jack left the hospital, Rogers turned to Grant, high school
sweethearts these two, and said, “We're doing that.”
classroom on this Wednesday morning, Patrick Swan shares a book about
Bo. He's worked on it for weeks, with help from Marie Matuella, his
special education teacher.Just months ago 12-year-old Patrick
shied away from Bo. Now he's greeting him like an old friend — “Bo!” —
and giggling merrily when he walks in the room. And then minutes later,
Patrick is sitting on the floor, narrating his book to Bo and his
classmates Shawn and Racheal and his teacher Mrs. Matuella and Rogers,
who says, “I am very proud of you.”
“What's next, Patrick?” Rogers says. “Are we saying the Pledge of Allegiance?”
To which Patrick holds a hand in the air, not quite finished telling his story. “I've got to read.”
By Casey Logan / World-Herald staff writer / Omaha.com