Golden Retriever’s Personality: Dogs and Migraine

Golden Retriever's personality

A Golden Retriever’s personality is that of a heart of gold. I talk about my love for my Golden Retrievers (past and present) a lot! I’m not the only one…

I’ve gathered some stories about Golden Retrievers’ personalities and their hearts of gold to explain how they are helping some women with migraine. So many of us benefit from our pets, especially when living with a chronic illness. They give us support and love in ways others can’t.  I want to highlight a few of these amazing dogs and the powerful migraine advocate they are supporting. I simply asked my migraine friends to tell me about how their Golden Retriever’s personality has helped them through living with migraine.

Golden Retriever Migraine Helpers

Eileen and I connected through the Healthline app this year and I think she’s fantastic! She a migraine educator, Healthline guide, and writer/moderator for Migraine Strong. Here are Eileen’s thoughts on her Golden Retriever Crash.

Crashing Migraine

“Furry snuggles, wiggly body, tail, and unconditional love. Those smiling happy looks whenever a ball is brought into the picture or I walk in the door. That’s what comes to mind when I think about my Golden Retriever, Crash. He helps me manage my chronic migraine in so many different ways. He provides comfort with his nearness, distraction and motivation…and he’s awful cute too!! He is such an amazingly gentle and intelligent boy. Crash is super gentle with kids, ‘encourages’ me when it is time for exercise (even when I don’t want to go) and reminds me that there are things that require attention outside of chronic migraine. He is equally happy to sit and snuggle on the couch or lay on my feet when I feel too rotten to do much else.

Dogs are AH-MAZ-ing. They have an unending supply of love and energy and seem to know which one we need at any given moment. As I write this, he is lying at my feet, off in puppy la la land. He’s not much on the chit chat, but he makes up for it with loyal support. Could there be a better officemate?

This is the third Golden in which I have been blessed. All of them have, in some way or another, helped me manage chronic migraine through the years. I know that Crash is in tune with me when he comes over and flops his head in my lap and looks up at me with those big brown eyes. He will lift an eyebrow at me and it’s like he’s saying that he’s here for me and will always have my back. What more could I ask for?”

Best Family Dogs

“Our Goldens have been the best family dogs too. We brought the first two home when our kids were just 5 and 2. It used to fill my heart with joy to see the dogs lying beside my son or daughter when they were sick. Or gently dropping a ball for the kids to throw, retrieving it (from all of 6 feet away), and bringing it back. Their wrestling antics were hilarious…unless they rolled over my brand new azalea and split it in two. Our dogs are funny, polite, loving, and definitely members of the family. I love hearing from others about how their furry friends help with migraine management. They are one of our few available ‘treatments’ that won’t let us down!!”

Characteristics of Golden Retrievers

Katie MacDonald and I connected through Miles for Migraine. Soon after meeting Katie, my beloved Golden passed away. Katie’s response was not out of pity but out of knowing the extreme loss and emptiness I felt. She validated my grief that many did not understand and I’ll always be thankful for her support. She is the Director of Operations at Miles for Migraine and Director for Alliance of Headache Disorders Advocacy. Here are Katie’s thoughts on her Golden Retrievers past and present.

Therapy Dog

“I have a long list of tools in my migraine toolkit. Medications, supplements, devices, green lights, rose-colored glasses, essential oils, podcasts, ice packs, and…. a Golden Retriever. Gose (pronounced Gose-ah) is our 2.5-year-old, wild child. She is the second Golden that I have raised and could not be more different than our first, Maddie. Gose still has the spirit of a 10-week old puppy. She pushes boundaries and tries my patience with regularity. Most importantly though, she has an innate sense of when I’m really struggling with migraine and it’s time to be my personal therapy dog.

My first dog, Maddie was certified as a Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs of Vermont. She was gentle all day, every day. Less comfortable joining me in bed, she was always quick to back up for a back scratch as her way of offering assistance during my pain. She would lay on the floor next to me, whether I was on the couch, the floor, or in bed. I felt her much needed presence. Gose is not quite official Therapy Dog material (at least not yet), but she excels at providing me much needed comfort.”

Emotional Support

“Technically, she’s not allowed on the furniture or in our bed. I make an exception when I am down with a bad migraine attack. She’s welcome to join me anywhere I am, most likely in bed. In fact, days when I head into the bedroom, draw the blinds, and turn on my Allay green light lamp, she is often flying through the air to claim a spot on the bed before I can settle in myself. Depending on how long I’m down, she has been known to leave and come back to bed with her favorite stuffed dinosaur or a tennis ball. It always makes me smile – like she is trying to offer a gift to help ease the pain.
This dog bounces around like a Mexican jumping bean with 4 paws off the ground more often than I’d like, yet can settle down and be perfectly still for hours with me. Having someone warm and soft to pet or cuddle with is so helpful. My husband is great too of course, but there’s something unique about the love of a dog. Tears, moans, head packed in pillows or ice – none of this bothers her. It’s not uncommon for her to put a paw on my arm or rest her nose on me somewhere as if she’s offering a hug. “

Golden Retriever Traits

Jeannette is a Mental Health Therapist with Love Life Counseling Volunteer and Acting Executive Director at CMA. She works tirelessly to help people in need while living with migraine herself and comorbid conditions.

“Golden Retrievers are a breed that are dogs of service and care. They find joy and discovery in life and can help us all see it too. They are very intuned to their people and offer so much love! Golden’s give with their whole heart. They are companion dogs, so they also require the same close love and affection back.

We have been blessed to have two Golden Retrievers… Our first was Cubby. She entered our lives 3 years before my journey with chronic migraine and comorbid conditions began. Cubby acted like a fuzzy care partner and was there to soothe, dry my tears, keep me company in the isolation. She lived 10 years, as my treatments were improving my pain levels and function, her health declined. 

Next, we welcomed Kodiak (Kodi). Kodi is 7 years old now, just becoming a senior dog. Her mission is slightly different. After being told for years that I could not carry a child, a year after Kodi joined the family, we had a baby boy. Kodi has taken on the mission of watching out for me but also our son, DJ. On my most difficult and high pain days, she plays with him and gives us both smiles. Sometimes it seems DJ is her puppy.

Both of our Goldens brought laughs, cuddles, love, and service, but they both seem to have their own unique purpose.”

Golden Retriever’s Personality

My Migraine Life and Golden Retrievers…

Over my life, I have lived with and owned many Golden Retrievers. I keep going back to the breed because of their personalities. They are the best family pets! While most of them can be described as outgoing, trustworthy, eager-to-please family dogs, they each bring their own uniqueness.

My dog Lucia was what I call my emotional equalizer. She knew how to calm me down, get me up, move me forward, and always had my back (while asking me to rub hers). She, without a doubt, was my greatest therapy I ever did or will receive. Lucia came into my life when I was episodic. She slowly watched me turn chronic and eventually helped me welcome home 2 children (she thought they were hers). She was a self-taught therapy dog for me with an insane intuition of my needs and health.

There were many times she slept on the bathroom floor with me (too migraine sick to even make it to my bed) keeping me warm and comforted. I didn’t realize that, like finding a human soul mate, you can find a dog soul mate. And she was my one. Losing her remains to be a hole in my heart and a therapy I can’t replace.

Golden Retriever Puppy

Then came Charlie, the red and calmest Golden Retriever I’ve ever met. Charlie is a sweet laid back family dog. He’s basically my third child and added so much love to our family. When he was just a year old, he came to my school and represented as Clifford the Big Red Dog during our Vet unit. Charlie just laid there while my preschool class petted, hugged him, and doctored him up. He was a very good patient. He is the best playmate for my kids and has been a huge distraction during Covid-19 restrictions.  We took him to Florida this year and he lived his best beach life! Charlie is this warm, sweet sweet dude that adds so much love to our home.

The Temperament of Golden Retriever

There seems to be a trend of loyal, loving, sweet, supportive, and fun for the temperament of our Golden Retrievers. After reading these stories, I realized that this is not the first Golden for any of us. While the love of our past Goldens still shines down on us, we have brought new light to our homes with these loving dogs. As women living and advocating for migraine, our loyal dogs have stood next to us, tails wagging and supported us along the way.

Being loyal to people is not something unique to our dogs. Every dog is different as are its owners. The breed of dog and where they came from is less important than the connection they make with each person. Animals can be such healers and so many of us benefit. They motivate us, inspire us, and above all support and love us.

Thank you to the migraine warriors that provided their stories and adorable pictures. I needed a happy subject to focus on and your dogs once again delivered.

In What Way Does Your Pet Make Your Life Better?

 

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Sarah Rathsack

I tell stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. My kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate me to make a difference in the Migraine World.
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2 Comments

  1. Caz / InvisiblyMe on February 14, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Crash, what a great name for Eileen’s retriever! It’s so lovely to read about how dogs make lives so much brighter even with chronic illness & migraines. They really are ‘AH-MAZ-ing’. I’ve wanted a golden retriever for years now (I’ve already named him Finn) but I sadly don’t think it’ll ever happen, and I find it absolutely soul-destroying. But I can still be happy for others and their dogs, and I do love seeing the photos. Great collection to share! 💚



  2. Sarah Rathsack on February 14, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Caz, I remember you saying you wanted a Golden. I hope you could enjoy the stories and photos of dogs you already love!



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