For SuZanne Rogers and her therapy dogs, tails never fails -
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    |   402-444-1056    |  

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

Live Well Nebraska: Bellevue man named one of hottest fitness trainers in America
Momaha: A lesson in balance for mom after ballet
Momaha: 10 ways to boost a kid's confidence
Annie, my husband walked out on me, and now I love his brother
Tips, recipes on how to spice up your traditional Easter ham
Review: ‘Heaven is for Real’ leaves it to viewer to interpret its story
Aw, geez. 'Fargo' has a new psycho
Is this Omaha's most incredible Easter egg tree?
Omaha, Lincoln both set record lows; some fruit trees may have been damaged
Grand Island body shop owner models car after Coney dog
Archives: So many wonderful old Omaha photos
What to Watch: 'Fargo,' 'New Girl'
'Last Supper' quilt makes its way to Nebraska
Caravan’s steampunk ‘Fantasticks’ to pitch its tent in Iowa
Cleveland Evans: Emma blossomed from medieval roots
Annie, I'm worried my fiancée will go back to her group sex ways
Number of stay-at-home moms on the rise, it’s not who you think
Assemble the minions! How to make weird but cool Easter crafts
Changes on World-Herald comics page
Annie, my 26-year-old son has no interest in getting a job
Kaneko-designed production to close Opera Omaha's 2014-15 season
Jazz composer, 20, dreams big after rediscovering music
Gay Men's Chorus bringing musical about bullying to Lincoln
Alegent Creighton Health gives churches the tools they need to develop healthy congregations
Pilgrimage to Italy meaningful to visitors
< >
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
Shoreline Golf Club
$40 for 2 Players, 18 Holes of Golf with Cart ($85 Value)
Buy Now
Jump to a blog:
< >
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!
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for'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 »