I Miss My Dog So Much it Hurts: Grieving My Dog

Migraine Therapy Dog: Grieving the Loss of a Pet

I miss my dog so much it hurts. As some of you may have seen, I said goodbye to my migraine support dog. I am currently grieving the loss of a pet that was so much more than an animal. She was my best friend, my first child, and my migraine therapy dog. She was a piece of my health and sanity that I will never get back. I’m emotionally destroyed!

I have this picture in my room.  One day, my daughter asked me, “Mom, is that the day you married Lucia?”  My answer was, “No baby, Lucia and I were already together forever.”  You see, my dog and I began it all….

I bought my dog to celebrate my first job out of college.  I had been lonely after leaving my college town and being thrust into life and big responsibilities.  It was love at first sight.  After I brought her to the vet, I was told she would most likely die from Parvo (a puppy virus).  That fluffy little ball of fur proved them all wrong.

I miss my dog so much!

My Dog Was My Life

She was part of my engagement, watched me get ready for my wedding, and moved to an apartment and 2 different homes over time.  She was our first child.

When our first human child arrived, she didn’t feel pushed out.  My sweet dog thought our baby was hers.  She had paced the floors with me and pregnancy insomnia.  Lucia sat with me during round-the-clock feedings.  I had meltdowns about being overtired, overworked, underfed, and overwhelmed and she was there for me.  It was years of blurry joy and hustle and she was there through it all.

As a stay-at-home mom with a husband who traveled, Lucia was my constant companion during some lonely times.  I had days where I spoke to no adults.  I spoke to my babies and my dog.  Conversations were had without words and my dog was always my biggest cheerleader and best friend.  Her tail, ears, and eyes spoke volumes to me.

There was no better big sister for my humans than Lucia.  She was patient while they played vet and poked her in the eyes.  Lucia was smart when she learned how to stand under the high chair to avoid flying sippy cups while reaping the benefits of fall-out food.  My sweet dog was even ok with squeezing hugs and the occasional ear-tasting.  She was sensitive to yelling and was always a reminder for us to use our talking voices.

Emotional Support

As I walked into the house with 5 bags in my arms, screaming children chasing behind me from the car, and everyday chaos we entered a home of love.  Our Golden Retriever always came running with a stuffed animal in her mouth, a wagging tail, and an attitude that said ”Leave it at the door.”  We all changed when we saw her sweet face. My kids miss my dog so much!


When My Dog Died, a Piece of Me Died

Over the years, my dog had 2 knee surgeries, many teeth pulled, growths cut off, and more.  Even as she was recovering, she still took care of me.

As she grew, so did my struggle with migraine.  Lucia became a migraine therapy dog and emotional support dog to me that no one will ever fully understand.  She got to a point where she sensed my pain spikes.  She learned how to comfort me and held my hand very early on and never let go.  Her eyes were always on me.  No matter how many humans we added to our family, I was her number one.

I give my full self to my family and she always reminded me that I  was loved too.  I don’t even put myself first, yet she always did.  She followed me from room to room.  My shadow and my protector. She made me feel like number one.

I miss my dog so much it hurts!

Over the years, we spent countless hours in a cold dark room with my chronic migraine.  There were many nights where I collapsed to the bathroom floor and she slept pressed up against me.  She spent hours unmoving from my bed while I thrashed in pain countless times.  I’d be covered in ice and wiggle my fingers to feel her little kisses on my tips.

Grieving My Dog

She’d do anything to make me feel better and she did.

In her last days, our only concern was making sure she wasn’t suffering and that we showed her all the love that she provided for us over the years.  I had a vet who once told me, “Goldens will wag their tails and eat until 3 days after they die just to please their owners.”  On her last day, she did just that.  We bought her lots of treats and threw her an early 13th birthday.  She wagged her tail and cuddled us while we knew it was time for her to go.  She knew and her eyes told us so.

Saying goodbye was, without a doubt, the most gut-wrenching moment of my life.  Ultimately, I feel so blessed that it was in her best interest, we didn’t allow her to suffer, she went without panic and pain.  As I lay with her, I felt God take my best friend, my four-legged soul mate, my first child, and my migraine warrior.


In the days after, I saw her everywhere.  I heard her everywhere.  I felt her everywhere.  My son was sick so I was trapped in my house and grieved over every hair, nose-smeared window, and inch of my house.  My house was no longer the home I was at ease in.

I Miss My Dog So Much it Hurts

Lucia went to God on May 8th.  On May 11th my turtle of 20 years passed away.  He has lived in the family room of every home I’ve had since I was a teenager.  My pet’s passing away in 3 days was extreme! The numbers 8 and 11 are hugely relevant.  I was born on 8/11.  My favorite numbers have always been 8 and 11 along with being my numbers in sports and more.  It was not a coincidence that these were the dates they went to the rainbow bridge.

A week exactly from the day we said goodbye to Lucia, my baby boy graduated preschool.  I knew the day would be bittersweet.  I teach at his school and we have always been together.  Now he was moving on too.

I’ve dedicated my life to my children and animals and it just felt like everyone was leaving me.   It was as if my pets were saying, “We started this family and raised your babies and now it’s time”.  It felt like an end of an era and one I was not ready to say goodbye to.

I’ve heard the phrases:

  • Our pets don’t live long enough
  • When it rains it pours
  • You’ll never get over her but someday it will hurt less

I’ve been told to get another dog not to replace my four-legged soul mate, but to find another love. I’ve been told that another dog can learn to be a therapy for migraines or an emotional support dog too.

I Miss My Dog

This next dog will have a distinct difference from Lucia.

  • My family belonged to Lucia. We started it all!  I was her number one.  Our children were hers.
    • The next dog will belong to them. They will see her as their childhood dog when I will forever know Lucia as the dog who gave my babies joy and my sanity.
  • Lucia watched my migraine become chronic and she evolved as my migraine therapy dog and emotional pet.
    • The next dog will hopefully see me get better. Her focus won’t solely be on me.  She is coming into an already-made family and connections will be totally different.
  • There will never be another being on this earth that can complete me.  Right now I feel this painful hole in my body that physically hurts with every breath.
    •  Altogether, Lucia went a piece of me that I will miss forever.  Yes, I will love another dog, but I know I won’t get that piece back.  She is missed each day! I know it will get easier but everyone has been honest with me in saying, it will never go away. Grieving the loss of a pet can be forever!


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[UPDATE Puppy alert]

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Sarah Rathsack

Sarah tells 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. Her kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate her to make a difference in the Migraine World.

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  1. mini2z on May 24, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Your heart will always be with her. Duke was our rescue labrador and he was the family dog and we had to let him go at 13 years. He was our gentle counter surfing giant (120lbs). I was always a cat person, having them grow up and I had 3 when I met my hubby. I convinced hubby to drive to a Labrador breeder’s about an hour from home. We went and I picked out our discount crazy Fox Red Lab, we though Cinnamon was going to be her name. She became Keely by day two. I was home because I was becoming sick not knowing what was wrong. She became my dog and the family dog, more so my daughter’s dog. My son’s friend’s dog created an oopsie and we picked out Ranger. He’s a Brindled Boxer – Wheaton Terrier mix and I should have trained him as a service dog but he’s all mine. He’s my heart and my constant.
    When you find your heart has healed you will find another, that one may be more of a family dog but you will be that dog’s constant because as the kids grow and do a million things, you’ll have that pupalup (my name for pups). I know that when Keely and Ranger cross the bridge, we will get another boxer and not a Labrador.
    Healing thoughts for your heart and your Lucia will always be with you.
    Love and hugs, Kristin

  2. mymigrainelife on May 25, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Thank you Kristin! Someone suggested speaking with others who understand my pain. You seem to be someone who deeply feels my pain. Your words comfort me although I know I have a long road ahead. Thank you for sharing your story. I know telling mine was painful but I hope it helps me and future readers take a step forward. I definitely found my heart and it’s so hard to say goodbye and live without her.

  3. mini2z on May 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    My migraines started before kids and all they’ve ever known is mom with migraines. So I really do understand. I remember when Keely was about four months, my hubby came home from work and she trotted to the back door like Duke used to and I know I’d made the right choice. Xo here if you need to talk ever.

  4. Sheryl Chan on May 25, 2018 at 10:32 am

    What beautiful memories, although so very sad 🙁 I just lost a beloved pet as well, but he was only a year old. The bonds that you had for decades must feel soul crushing. Sending hugs, and I will be happy to hear a lot more about Lucia, so feel free to chat anytime! x

  5. mymigrainelife on May 25, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Thank you ❤️

  6. Maurice Hogue on May 25, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I am older now – in the last days of life, but my dogs have always been a huge part of my life. Each one brings something new to me and to my home, but most of all what they have brought is a completeness, a feeling of my home being right. Oh no, this doesn’t happen right away. It takes time. Each one of them came into my life at a different time, and each one has a special place in my heart. No dog will ever replace or come close to replacing my very first dog at the age of 12. He became my protector, my best friend, and much like your dog, my therapy dog although not for any illness I had, but for teenage angst. His coat held more of my teenage tears than my pillow ever held. Yes, your next dog will be a different one. Just as cherished, just as loved in time, but Lucia will always be the one who raised your children and who laid by your side while you were in agony. You will never lose that bond with her. In time, you will both mourn and learn to love those memories because they will always be some of the very best ones you have. The bond is for a lifetime, not just for the time we get to have them. God bless you. I know your next dog, when you choose, will have a wonderful home and a wonderful family and will be a new chapter in all of your lives.

  7. Cindy on May 25, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    My heart is breaking for you. We lost one of the loves of our lives to a coyote and I thought this pain will never end. It is still there every time I think of my little Cocker Spaniel Taffy. My husband brought home another Cocker that looks almost identical to Taffy. I thought she can never replace my baby girl and of course she never has. All of a sudden Hope started to do things that Taffy used to. It was almost as if Taffy’s spirit enveloped Hope for our comfort. She has become my husband’s baby now, and I have my little princess Paisley. She is a 6 lb Silky Terrier and I too suffer from debilitating migraines. She goes everywhere with me and is my emotional support as well. She travels everywhere with us and I cannot imagine her not being there for me. My heart breaks thinking of the day she won’t be here and your story has so touched my heart. I pray you find peace with your loss and always remember Lucia and the love she brought to you and your family. God Bless You!

  8. potofcallaloo on May 25, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart melts looking at this. I grew up with two parrots who showed me so much love and filled an emptiness that has remained vacant. It is a kind of pure, exceptional love only our animal family can give.My heart goes out to you. And no, I’ve never gotten them. I still dream them often and when I have lucid dreams I am so eager for the chance just to be with them again. You are not alone. Love and hugs my friend xxx

  9. Ann-Marie Giannosa on May 27, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    A Year and a half ago I lost the canine love of my life, Scrappy Cornelius Doo, a rescue mutt with a fu-man-choo. I grieve her daily. If I see a picture I melt. She was my baby. She took care of me during all of my daily migraines.
    It’s getting easier to live with but no it will never go away.
    May you find peace in your memories of Lucia!

  10. mymigrainelife on May 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you.

  11. Mike Rathsack on May 28, 2018 at 8:58 am

    A wonderfully written tribute to sweet Lucia!

  12. mymigrainelife on May 28, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Thank you.

  13. Mimi on May 28, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to an extraordinary fur baby, I know how hard it is to say goodbye to our baby dogs, it was weeks before I could come home without crying and expecting to see or hear our beloved Murphy, I still miss her all these years later and someday I hope to have another fur baby to love on, in the meantime I had the honor to love on Lucia and many other sweet dogs, the gift of Lucia’s love will stay with you all your life, she was truly a blessing to everyone whose life she touched but especially yours, what an honor she choose you to be her number one, Thank-you for sharing your story and all the loving pictures of Lulu, Mimi

  14. mymigrainelife on May 28, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you! She was so loved ❤️????

  15. Sherri on May 29, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Absolutely beautiful story Sarah. So sorry for
    Your tremendous loss. Her spirit will stay with
    you always. Sending hugs.

  16. mymigrainelife on May 29, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Thank you!

  17. Terri, Reclaiming Hope on May 31, 2018 at 11:33 am

    This is such a beautiful tribute to Lucia, Sarah. I’m so sorry for your loss. I definitely understand the connection we have with our furry family members and the utter grief we feel when it’s time to let them go. I lost one of my fur-babies nine years ago, and I still shed a tear whenever I come upon a picture of her sweet little face. Just like people, each pet holds a special place and plays a unique role in our lives. It sounds like not only was Lucia a gift to you, you were a wonderful ‘puppy parent’ to her as well. I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you gave her a great life filled with love. Blessings to you.

  18. mymigrainelife on May 31, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Thank you. I have great comfort in knowing that we were the best each other could give. A true blessing. Moving forward without her is so difficult but looking back makes me smile.

  19. Lisa on January 6, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I realize this was several months ago now, but I’m sure you still feel the loss profoundly. I just stumbled across this, and the tears are streaming down my face. I, too, lost my Sophie back in November. She was my constant companion and comforter, and the pain is still raw. I went thru the worst year of my life in 2018, and it was as if Sophie got me thru it and then knew it was time to go. It’s like you said – “the end of an era.”
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Knowing I’m not alone is so helpful. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  20. mymigrainelife on January 6, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve had more to write about my sweet girl, but as you said, it’s still very raw. Our pets know us better than ourselves and her getting you through a rough year was her knowing she was leaving you ok. You definitely aren’t alone and I appreciate your comment, we all need support (and someone who understands)!

  21. Carla on September 7, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Thank you for this message. I lost my beautiful furry soul mate Bella on March 31st. I have always believed & lived as though I am a very strong woman. I have been through a lot of hardships in my life, but losing Bella to cancer has knocked me down and I’m finding it so hard to get back up. She was only 12, I had other babies that lived to be 15 or 16. So, I kept thinking that we had years together. My Mom had alzheimers and I took care of her at home for 10 years of that vicious disease. She passed in 2017 at home with us. My Bella was by my side every single day & night as we took care of her every need. Mom was bedridden the last 2 years of her life. Caregivers during the day while I went to work, then me & Bella took the night shift. Bella was so loving & gentle to my Mom. When Mom passed and the care givers went away, the house went silent & it was just me & Bella laying on the floor holding each other. We had to learn a new routine that Mom was not a part of anymore. Bella was my soul mate, best friend & protector. The funniest, smartest & loyal baby that I have ever had. When she passed in my arms. I wanted to go with her. Life has lost its glamor these days as I fight depression. I see a therapist as I had to seek help after my Mom passed because she too was my everything. I never knew my dad so I took care of her with everything I had. I don’t know that I would have made it through any of that without my Bella. All to say it has now been 5 months and my heart is broken. I know that we were all 3 so blessed to have this special bond. I feel both of them watching over me as I know they are in heaven together as my Mom adored Bella. Life is hard and I’m trying to find the beauty that God puts in front of me everyday, but some days I can’t see past the pain. Praying for peace. 🙏

  22. Sarah Rathsack on September 7, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to Bella! I can feel the love she gave you. I know she felt love from you and your mom and that the loss is so painful. I’m glad you are seeing a therapist and hope that helps you heal. Im praying for some peace for you too.

  23. Lisa Burke on November 18, 2021 at 10:09 am

    We feel so bad for all of you!
    My husband and I had to put to sleep our 15 year old boy Papillon on October 25, 2021. He had a massive seizure due to brain cancer that was never diagnosed. It was such a shock that we are both traumatized and crushed! I also suffered from Migraines which for some odd reason stopped when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I often wondered whether or not my boy gave me signs that a Migraine was about to happen, but all I know is that he kept kissing me for 20 minutes straight on my mouth every morning and night in bed 2 months before I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage 2. I did get a service dog letter saying he was a detection dog and the grief I got because he was 8 pounds was worse than my migraines and cancer. We have no children – he was (is our son) We are so devastated because he literally was always in our sight. We took him to Europe, in stores, restaurants, parks EVERYWHERE! We miss him so much. We are looking for a local Pet Loss Therapist because I don’t know how we are going to go on. Kisses and hugs from us to you!

  24. Sarah Rathsack on November 18, 2021 at 10:12 am

    Hugs to you! Loosing a dog, is loosing family and there’s nothing more crushing. I try to focus on how I lucky I was to have her and how rich she made my life. I feel your pain and how you find the help you seek.

  25. Gaby the Schnauzers mom on March 24, 2022 at 12:39 am

    So sorry for our losses…last August we had to put down our beloved dog Gucci, who had tge happiest tail in history. Euthanasia was the most excruciating decision, we had to do it before his 3 types of cancer caused him more pain. There are no words that could possibly express the feeling of losing Gucci…and 10 days later his twin brother Curly had to be euthanized as well, as he quickly developed renal failure and seizures. Why did we have to lose 2 babies back to back? It has been 7 months and the grief and pain just keep growing. I really want to join them . I am just existing inside this deep empty space called loss, shedding tears on their fluffy toys and holding their little beds at night. God bless all the people who have loved and cherised their pets, I hope we can see our babies again, happily waiting for us on the other side of the rainbow 💖.

  26. Sarah Rathsack on March 24, 2022 at 7:10 am

    Your grief is very heavy and I understand. Have you found a doctor or therapist to talk to about it? I know it can feel overwhelming and I hope you can reach out for help. Healing is a very long and tricky process.

  27. Nicolette on May 17, 2022 at 12:29 am

    I’m experiencing the same heartache. My best friend of 15 years passed away this Sunday. She was my soul mate every move I made she was right there whenever I was alone I was never alone because she was there. She loved me more than I’ve ever loved I miss her love so much it hurts. She has been there since I was a teenager and been through LIFE with me life without her does not feel okay. I don’t know if I could ever get another dog if I could ever go through this again. I am traumatized but I have kids and I have to be strong but I feel so weak. I don’t know how to be at my house when no one is home.. does this get any better

  28. Sarah Rathsack on May 17, 2022 at 7:39 am

    I’m so sorry. It does get better! I can say, you never get “over it” but time helps heal the shock and I have gotten to a point that I cherish those memories vs being so intensely sad by it. It’s heartbreaking and doesn’t just go away. Be gentle to yourself during this time!

  29. Laura on November 29, 2022 at 11:54 am

    I am so glad I came across this post. It brought tears to my eyes. I feel as though I could have written it (minus the migraine component). I am 2 days past having to let go of my first baby, the sweetest goldendoodle boy, Remy. The sadness and emptiness is consuming. Walking into my home is gut wrenching. Not feeling his body in the crook of me legs and bedtime is emptying. Finding his fuzzy little fur tumbleweeds chokes me up. I know the intense pain will ease with time. But for now reading posts like yours just helps me feel less alone in this. Thank you.

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