Siegel, 53, has transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. Eighteen years ago, the disease took most of her mobility below the waist.
The Powell resident is now able to walk with the help of canes, but she spends most of her time in a wheelchair.
“I’m a fourth-grade teacher, and fortunately, I was able to continue teaching, but it was exhausting,” she said. “My legs aren’t strong, so for me to walk across the room is an event, and it’s incredibly difficult for me to get down to pick something up that I dropped.
“But now, any step Kazu takes for me is one that I don’t have to take.”
Kazu accompanies Siegel every day to her classroom at Worthington Estates Elementary School, where she continues to teach.
With more than 50 basic commands mastered, Kazu’s bag of tricks is deep. When Siegel drops her cellphone or pen, Kazu eagerly picks it up and returns it to her lap. He fetches her shoes, flips light switches, opens and closes doors, and even pulls off his owner’s socks at the end of the day.