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Service Dog Heals Invisible Wounds of War

She predicts panic attacks, senses oncoming seizures, and greatly improves the life of a Buhl man suffering from war’s psychological aftermath.

Combat veteran David Leavitt said Bailey has saved his life more than once, reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the 4-year-old Great Dane and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix often is barred from parks, businesses and restaurants by people who don’t understand that this service dog is essential to Leavitt’s well-being.

Sufferers of PTSD commonly experience flashbacks to extreme trauma, experience panic attacks in crowded places and have nightmares that can manifest into night terrors.

The former Army infantry sergeant said Bailey is so synchronized with his condition that she detects symptoms before he can. She also wakes Leavitt up during nightmares and comforts him.

“I was in Florida at an Army Wounded Warrior symposium. There was a restaurant where they did jousting. We were in there, I was minding my own business, and all of a sudden all these people came in and she’s tugging me to get out of there because she knew my anxiety was going to go through the roof. The second that I realized it, I went outside and was throwing up and was really bad off for a couple of days.”

Bailey also can sense when someone else is in danger.

“She’s very intuitive to the people around her. There was one incident where I was walking to a formation early in the morning. I was walking with a friend of mine, and all of a sudden Bailey started acting up, she didn’t want to move or go anywhere and I thought, ‘What’s going on? I’m not having any issues.’ All of a sudden my friend collapsed and went into a seizure. She picked up on that. I stayed right there with my friend and helped her, waited for the ambulance to show up.”