Pre-wedding jitters are pretty normal for anyone who’s about to walk down the aisle. But what is such an important event like for someone who suffers from panic attacks and anxiety? Perhaps the presence of a best friend helps—more specifically, the presence of man’s best friend.
A few years ago, a labrador named Bella came in to the life of Valerie Parrott, who suffers from migraines, panic attacks, and anxiety. Bella, a service dog, is trained to track and prevent Parrott’s panic attacks.
When Parrott married her husband Andrew earlier this month in Sioux Falls in South Dakota, the almost four-year old Bella stood by her owner’s side. As CBS News reported, Bella could sense Parrott’s anxiety was kicking in.
Parott’s mom was helping her get into her wedding dress. With her heart rate increasing, Bella ran over and nudged the nervous bride.
“She alerts me by licking hands first to get my attention or nudge behind my knee to tell me that I need to sit down or leave the area and take a break,” Parrott told CBS News.
On that day Bella sensed Parrott’s heart rate was elevated so she alerted her. She let Parrott pet her until her heart rate eased back to normal.
“She was putting her weight on me to kind of cause me to focus on her instead,” Parrott recalled.
Wedding photographer Maddie Peschong captured the moment between Bella and the bride. The day after the wedding, Peschong shared on the internet the series of photos of the moment and it went on to become viral with over 1.6 million views on Reddit and two million on Imgur.
“The best thing about this experience is the fact that Val has been able to able to turn this into such a teachable moment and really educate people about the service dog community,” Peschong told BuzzFeed.
“It’s really exciting to see photos of the two of us,” Parrott said. “It captures a side of being a service dog team that sometimes you almost forget is there—we rely on each other so much.”
Bella stood by Parrott throughout the ceremony, even walking down the aisle with her while wearing a pink tutu.
“It is hard to sum up my relationship with Bella,” Parrott said. “She has given my life back to me. Without her, I have no clue where I would be in life.”