SAN ANTONIO, TX - A service dog in San Antonio got a special honor this school year – his picture right next to the girl he protects every day.
For four years Taxi has been by seventh grader Rachel Benke's side in school, paving the way for possible future service dogs in the Northside Independent School District.
Rachel has had epileptic seizures since birth and after two brain surgeries when she was six, her mother says she showed marked improvement.
She was on baby food for six years and then she started eating. She also started talking after she was non-verbal for many years.
Four years ago they met Taxi, a half lab, half golden retriever. He was supposed to be a guide dog.
“We joke saying he's a guide dog drop out, he did not make the guide dog program because he is a cat destruction problem,” Rachel's mother Theresa Benke said.
It was problem for the cats but not for the Benkes.
Rachel's mom says at first she didn't know if he'd be a good fit as a service dog for her daughter.
“We were very overwhelmed because of that time Rachel was afraid of animals,” Benke said.
Then came time for them to meet.
“Next thing you know Rachel just hugged him and it was the cutest thing you've ever seen,” Benke said.
He goes everywhere with the soon-to-be eighth grader. Including accepting awards at school, celebrating birthdays, and even on the school track where one day he sprang into action.
Her aide was holding Taxi on the side and he just started pulling away from the aide as hard as he could trying to get to Rachel.
She says once they got her inside, Rachel had a grand mal seizure, and Taxi wouldn't leave Rachel’s side.
“I don't know how Taxi knew this, but he wouldn't let anyone near her until the paramedics got there,” Benke said.
He earned a place into their hearts, but they had eyes on the school yearbook.
“Last year I joked about it when their yearbooks came out and I said, 'Hey where's Taxis picture,’” Benke said.
But this year they made it happen.