After two tours in Iraq and close calls during mortar attacks that left Nicholas Bailey with PTSD, a spinal injury and severe pain, only one thing helped the Army veteran: support from his German Shepherd, Abel.
His wife, Vanessa, tells DaShawn Brown of WCSC, “In the middle of the night when Nick is having a nightmare, he wakes Nick up by licking his hand.”
“It’s like he could feel the pain coming from Nick,” says Vanessa.
Because of this intense bond, the Baileys, of North Charleston, S.C., decided they wanted to train Abel as a service animal instead of applying to receive a new dog trained to help with PTSD. They started training Abel on their own, but once, when they were shopping, a box fell from a shelf and hit Abel, startling him and leaving him hesitant to enter stores — the exact places where Nicholas relied on him to calm his PTSD symptoms.
As a result, the Baileys investigated how to get Abel professional training in Arizona at a facility that can teach the German Shepherd to overcome his fear and complete his service dog lessons.
The only problem? The training (plus kenneling, medications, and food) costs $15,000. (A more affordable training program that the Baileys originally looked into didn’t work out.)
The Baileys set up a GoFundMe account explaining Nick’s condition and that going out in public can be a “nightmare” without the help of Abel.
All of this led to an 8-year-old girl the Baileys had never met, Rachel Mennett, learning of their plight and asking a pet shop in Summerville, S.C. if she could set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Abel’s training.
“I wanted to help him because my brother knew he needed help, and I wanted to do lemonade so I thought I could help him do it,” she tells Brown. The donations flowed in, many people giving money without even accepting a cup of lemonade.
“For me, it’s just amazing that an 8-year-old girl would show any interest in me or my dog,” Nicholas says.
As for that GoFundMe account? After the story about Rachel’s lemonade stand aired, many more people chipped in, and now the Baileys are just a couple of thousands of dollars shy of their goal.