AN ARMY veteran who was helped to overcome his post traumatic stress with the aid of his "calming" dog has used their special bond to help others in need.

Barry Coase and his Bichon Frise, Bella, developed a unique bond after Bella helped Barry to overcome the PTSD he experienced after leaving the army.

Barry, from Willingdon near Eastbourne, would wake up from night terrors to find her comforting him. Bella would also help him when he was having debilitating panic attacks in public.

The 58-year-old has described Bella as his "grounding tool" and how she would wake him up in the night by licking his ear then calming him down by licking the back of his neck when he was having a nightmare.

Bella was picked up by Barry in 2014 as a puppy after a woman dropped her off at a dog rescue centre and said her husband would kill Bella that night if the rescue centre did not take her.

It took a while for Bella to settle, who was shaking as soon as she went out with Barry. She eventually built up her confidence and became more relaxed.

Barry got the idea for Bella to become an assistance dog and help others when an old lady next to them asked if she could stroke Bella and put her on her knee.

The Argus: Barry and Bella browsing an aisle in Pets at HomeBarry and Bella browsing an aisle in Pets at Home

The lady's reaction made Barry realise that she would be an ideal assistance dog.

Since 2014, Bella has become a qualified owner-trained assistance dog, while Barry gives talks on animal assisted therapies for palliative care, end of life moments, intensive care and children’s wards.

Barry said all he has ever wanted to do is help as many people as possible due to his experiences after leaving the army.

More recently, Barry and Bella won the "animal partnership" category in the Soldiering On military awards, which honours the unique relationships pets can provide to the armed forces community.

The Argus: Bella and Barry have a special bondBella and Barry have a special bond

The duo were voted for by the public because of their volunteering work in hospitals and schools.

To celebrate their win, Pets at Home treated Bella to a groom at The Groom Room in the brand-new Pets at Home store in Brighton where Barry was also able to pick out some treats for Bella.

Barry said: “It’s finally starting to sink in that we’ve won the award – all we ever wanted to do was help as many people as possible and it means a lot to get this recognition.

“Bella helped me so much when I needed it most and it’s so rewarding that we’re able to support others through their own hard times.

“We were really touched when Pets at Home reached out and offered a special treat for Bella – we had a great time!”

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