Valerie Parrott and her service dog, Bella, were captured in a touching moment on Parrott’s wedding day this month. In the photo, Bella was doing her job by alerting Parrott to her rising anxiety level. By leaning her head against Parrott, Bella can help to “ground” her by bringing her back into the here-and-now.
The photo, taken by Mad Photo and Design, took off on Reddit shortly after it was posted.
For her part, Parrott is glad that the viral photo is bringing more attention to the role of service dogs. According to Parrott’s blog,
“The best part about this whole thing is that I can finally help educate more people about service dogs.”
Bella is both a service dog and a psychiatric support dog, which means she can assist with calming techniques such as grounding therapy, as well as more specific help through deep pressure-point therapy, or DPT. According to Parrott, this involves “putting weight on different points of the body to help decrease heart rate and release tension.” While performing DPT, Bella is also trained to breathe loudly to make her handler pay attention to her own breathing.
Parrott, who was paired with Bella through the Animal Psychology Center in Rapid City, has had her since the fall of 2013.