Veteran Barry Coase and his Bichon Frise therapy dog Bella have been rewarded by Pets at Home.
This year the duo won the Soldiering On Awards’ Animal Partnership category which honours the unique relationships and companionship pets can provide to the Armed Forces community.
The category was sponsored by Pets at Home, with the public voting for Barry and Bella as the winners due to their selfless volunteering in local hospitals and schools.
The Eastbourne duo developed a unique bond after Bella helped Barry to overcome the PTSD he experienced after leaving the army.
Now Bella is a qualified assistance dog while Barry gives talks on animal assisted therapies for palliative care, end of life moments, intensive care and children’s wards.
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.
Sarah Woodward, commercial marketing manager at Pets at Home, said, “We’re proud to be involved in the Soldering On Awards and to sponsor such an amazing category with so many inspirational pet and owner partnerships.
“This category really does showcase the huge impact a pet and owner bond can have on those around them and the benefits it brings – there’s nothing quite like it.
“As a small token to say thank you to Barry and Bella for all their hard work, we invited them to our brand-new Brighton store so Bella could enjoy a groom and pick up a range of products from the store.”
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!”