Mom Adopts Dog Who Helped Her Daughter During an Anxiety Attack

A dog that helped a young woman suffering from an anxiety attack during a Christmas parade has been adopted by her family Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association (KCHA) animal shelter revealed in a Facebook post.

Picaso, named after the artist but missing an 's' due to typo, had rushed to help when he saw a 16-year-old Abby Ellis suffering an anxiety attack, the Dodo reported.

The Plott hound mix was allowed to walk in the parade with some other dogs from the shelter because of his well-behaved, calm nature. Kim Vigneau, a volunteer at the shelter, was walking Picaso when he spotted Ellis amongst hundreds of parade attendees lining the curbside. She said: "We were walking in the center of the road. A girl was sitting on the curb. She looked like she was upset.

"Picaso took the initiative and pulled me right over to her. He put his head against hers and was physically supportive with his face. Then the girl smiled. I could tell by her body language he was helping her."

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Ellis suffers from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition that can affect blood flow and cause her to faint, as well as causing the teenager severe anxiety at times.

The 16-year-old's mother, Melissa Smoot was attending to her daughter when Picaso arrived on the scene. Smoot said: "Abby's head was down on her legs, and she was falling forward.

"He managed to get his body underneath her and pushed her back. Then she started to come around. All I could think was Abby would have face-planted into the ground if that dog had not been there."

After getting her daughter safely home, Smoot couldn't stop thinking about Picaso. The next day she and Ellis visited the KCHA shelter where the dog had been staying awaiting adoption since November when he was rescued from a street in Charleston, West Virginia.

And it seemed like Picaso hadn't forgotten Ellis either. The 16-year-old said that he ran straight up to her: "He hugged me. I was really excited."

That interaction was all Smoot needed to persuade her to make Picaso part of the family. She said: "Abby had been asking for a dog for over a year now.

"I kept praying, 'Lord, just send me a sign that Abby is ready for a dog.' Someone called this a God wink. It sure was. God winked at us and answered our prayers."

People battling anxiety and other conditions are increasingly turning to Emotional Support Animals to assist them. According to Medical News Today the assistance that anxiety service dogs, in particular, can provide include detecting signs of an anxiety attack before it happens and calming a person down during an attack by providing a distraction, like licking their face or providing a paw.

Even untrained animals like Picaso have been shown to assist in reducing stress and anxiety in their owners. In a study published in 2019, it was shown that anxiety could be reduced by interactions with dogs.

The research showed that while the greatest reduction in anxiety for participants came when they interacted directly with dogs, even watching a video of a dog could have a positive effect on mood.

An image of Picaso with shelter volunteer Kim Vigneau. The dog was adopted by the mother of a young woman he rushed over to help as she suffered a panic attack. KCHA