A three-year-old yellow lab is being hailed a hero after a photo of the pup comforting an anxious bride on her wedding day was posted to social media.
Bella, a service dog trained in recognizing panic attacks, is the companion of Valerie Parrott of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Parrott, who was married this month, suffers from anxiety, which can be a crippling disorder, especially during periods of heightened stress.
Parrott relies on Bella to help avoid and prevent episodes of panic.
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“Bella’s medical alert title refers to her ability to predict and inform me of different types of body changes,” wrote Parrot on her blog.
Parrott was just finishing getting into her wedding dress when she felt a panic attack coming.
Recognizing Parrott’s anxiousness, Bella put her training to work, using a simple nudge against the knee to help comfort her master.
“Usually, her warning is all I need to get to a safe place or to take action to prevent a panic attack,” wrote Parrott.
The remarkable moment of companionship was caught on camera by Parrott’s wedding photographer.
“It’s so much more than just a photo, and I recognize that,” photographer Maddie Peschong told CNN.
The photo was posted to popular aggregate site Reddit, and has since exploded in popularity garnering more than 1.6 million views.
“It’s not that it’s anymore beautiful than any other photo,” said Peschong. “It’s 100 per cent about the moment. And that’s all Val, and that’s all Bella.”
It was just one of many special moments Peschong caught between Parrott and her pouch.
“I think it’s possible people don’t realize that while Bella was an adorable part of the wedding, she was definitely there to work,” said Peschong.
Parrott believes the photos are a good reminder for the public, and herself, of just how influential a service dog can be.
“It captures a side of being a service dog team that sometimes you almost forget is there,” Parrott told CBS. “we rely on each other so much.”
“To have Val be able to turn this into a really teachable moment to educate about service dogs, has been extremely special,” said Peschong.