Service pup comforts South Dakota bride on wedding day
Man’s best friend comes to the aid of an anxious bride.
Bella, a 3-year-old yellow lab, melted the hearts of many when a photo emerged of her with her owner on Reddit, an aggregating social media site.
The pup is specially trained to help Valerie Parrott of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, cope with anxiety.
Parrott also suffers from frequent migraines that affect her daily life. Two years ago, she was matched with Bella, who stays vigilantly by her side.
“Bella actually picked me,” Parrott said Saturday. While she visited the Animal Psychology Center in Rapid City to pick out a service dog, Bella come out of her kennel and moved a puppy out of the way as if to claim Parrott.
“We’ve been inseparable ever since.”
Parrott writes about her experiences to help others understand more about panic disorders and service animals.
“Ever since I was paired with Bella and entered the world of service dogs, I have wanted to make a positive impact on our community,” she told CNN.
“Bella’s medical alert title refers to her ability to predict and inform me of different type of body changes,” Parrott writes on her blog. “Such as rapid heart beat that may lead to more serious issues such as panic attacks, dizzy spells and other issues involved with my medical condition.”
Bella alerts Parrott of an upcoming panic attack by nudging her nose or licking her hand.
“Usually, her warning is all I need to get to a safe place or to take action to prevent a panic attack.”
Weddings can cause enough stress on anyone, let only someone who suffers from anxiety.
“A lot of girls experience their first panic attack leading up to weddings,” she blogged. “A lot of girls with these disorders double their number of normal panic attacks.”
On Parrott’s wedding last weekend, her loyal pup was right by her side to help calm her down. Maddie Peschong, photographer and owner of Mad Photo & Design, was there to capture this touching moment as Valerie married Andrew Parrott.
“I think it’s possible people don’t realize that while Bella was an adorable part of the wedding,” said Peschong, “she was definitely there to work.”
Dressed in a pink tutu, the pooch even had her own moment down the aisle, as she was the flower girl.
The photo has helped bring attention to service dogs and the role they play in their owners’ lives.
“To have people take this kind of attention to it, and then to have Val be able to turn this into a really teachable moment to educate about service dogs, has been extremely special,” Peschong told CNN.