For SuZanne Rogers and her therapy dogs, tails never fails - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:43 am
For SuZanne Rogers and her therapy dogs, tails never fails

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.

On 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.”

In another 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.”

* * * * *

Video: Therapy dog

Contact the writer: Casey Logan

casey.logan@owh.com    |   402-444-1056    |  

Casey's a GA features reporter looking for good stories to tell about interesting people.

Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Annie, when that girl's hitting the bottle, look out
Blair High senior shows his love of pi by memorizing 1,381 digits
Jon Stewart might be real king of late night
'Tis soon Talk Like Shakespeare Day; hence be mirthful!
Can't find your pet? Social media is there to help
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
From fashion to baskets, a guide to the latest Easter trends
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
This Friday, celebrate Arbor Day where it all began
Why two hotshots ditched six-figure salaries for a life of less
Annie, my boyfriend of 3 years won't invite me to his mobile home
Kooser: 'American Life in Poetry' (April 20)
Swoosie’s voice a joy in memoir of stage, family
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Want a different garden? Turn to your local greenhouse, nursery
How they met: An Omahan's 50-foot fall was best thing to ever happen to him
Annie, I'm telling you checking out nude bodies online is not porn
How to transform your wall or deck into hanging herb garden
Iowa West Foundation aids Joslyn Art Museum's repairs
Benson Hall of Fame to honor 8 graduates, 2 former educators
Omaha library staffers recommend these books
The World-Herald's weekend event recommendations
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Cleveland Evans: From a moody nickname to the Ninja Turtles’ bestie
In honor of April 1, this column’s about Murgatroyd and Amphelisia.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
FROM THE BLOGS »
Jump to a blog:
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
We Love Weddings blog
W.E. Love Weddings is about everything Omaha and everything weddings by the editors of Wedding Essentials Magazine.
Weddings and engagements
Share your exciting news with your community by placing an announcement today.
Inspired Home Omaha magazine
Sign up today to get the latest edition of Omaha's best magazine for local living, home entertainment, fashion and travel!
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »