Service Dog In Yearbook: Guide Dog Pictured With Girl He’s Trusted To Look After

A girl and her service dog are pictured in this year’s yearbook at Hector Garcia Middle School. Rachel Benke and her dog, Taxi, come as a package, and the school recognized their companionship by featuring them in the yearbook together.

TODAY reports that Rachel, 14, depends on Taxi to help her through epileptic seizures that she’s sometimes attacked with. The teenager and her canine companion have been together four years. The golden retriever attends class everyday at the San Antonio middle school with Rachel. The service dog is attached to her with a buddy leash, and is able to alert family members and teachers when Rachel is about to experience an epileptic seizure.

Rachel’s mother, Teresa Benke, tells TODAY:

“He predicts she’s going to have a seizure up to an hour and half before it happens. It seems to be a smell that the body emits, but until dogs can talk we can never know for sure.”

Rachel has an abnormality on the right side of her brain that has caused epileptic seizures since she was born. As she got older, the seizures worsened… to the point where she had 200 seizures a day at times. Rachel was unable to talk until she was 6-years-old. Two corrective brain surgeries changed things for the better. Rachel was able to communicate verbally, eat normal food, and learn effectively. The 14-year-old still suffers from seizures, but not nearly to the extent she used to.

Teresa says Rachel and Taxi are a “great team” together:

“He predicts she’s going to have a seizure up to an hour and half before it happens. It seems to be a smell that the body emits, but until dogs can talk we can never know for sure.”

This amazing dog has proven himself many times. The family says when Rachel was swimming in the pool at home, Taxi clenched up and frantically slapped the water with his paws. Rachel’s parents removed her from the water, and 10 minutes later she had a seizure. The same type of incident happened when Rachel was about to jump on the trampoline. He placed his paws on her shoulders as a sign she shouldn’t. Minutes later, Rachel had a seizure.

Teresa explains how the guide dog prevents Rachel from falling:

“He always stays on her left side because she falls on her left. He breaks her fall.”

Teresa says the retriever is loved by many at Rachel’s school:

“Last year I joked, ‘Where’s Taxi’s picture?’ He’s here every day, he deserves to be in the yearbook, too.”

For this year’s yearbook, the photographer offered to snap pictures of Taxi. Teresa had no idea the gesture would go viral after she posted pictures online of the dog in the yearbook.

“When I posted that picture, never in a million years would I have imagined that it would rise to this magnitude. 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.”

Huffington Post reports that another service dog is also being recognized at his companion’s school. A service dog named Walton was in senior pictures with a student and he was going to wear a cap and gown for the teen’s graduation.

[Image: Courtesy of Teresa Benke / Yahoo Shine]