Bella — Service

Location: Jacksonville, Florida

I like to say my PTSD service dog Bella has my back, but honestly, she has the whole of me.

When I first saw Bella in July 2020, I was hot, tired, and discouraged from wearing a mask due to COVID-19. My nightmares and anxiety were about to get the best of me, and I rarely left my house, even hiding out in my closet for fear of the unknown. Bella changed much of that.

My best girl snuggles up to me every night — and gently wakes me from the worst of my nightmares. Instead of seeing the face of my attacker when I’m at the doctor’s office or shopping for groceries, I’m paying attention to her perfect behavior and making sure I catch her eye as she looks to me for approval. She knows when I’m upset or anxious and offers me gentle licks and hugs — just as I’m overloaded and about to burst; like in early March my favorite uncle passed and I wasn’t able to attend his memorial because of COVID. She’s there when I misplace my glasses; and brings me my shoes to take a walk.

Bella is my constant companion at a dozen doctor’s appointments each month. I am proud as she scoots close to me when tension heightens. She is a consummate professional in medical facilities, paying attention only to me, even when I forget snacks. Her love and affection is evident. She blocks others from crowding. Recently, at the grocery store, she ignored children jumping in front of her while she “waited” in place. She is an extraordinarily patient, intelligent and wise service animal. She is my hero!

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