Migraine Support Dog: Emotional Support

my support dog

My migraine support dog is my emotional support. She provides comfort and treatment that no prescription can prescribe. I bought her to celebrate getting my first real job out of college.  She was a sick puppy when I got her. The vet told me she was going to die and that I shouldn’t get attached.  Well, here I am with my feet comfortably resting on her 9 years later.  She is my first child.  People told me that when I had real children I would love her less.  That could not be further than the truth.  My children love, hug, kiss, and even try to ride her.  She sleeps in the nursery or outside their rooms during naps and at night…..a typical older, protective sister.

Migraine Support Dog

There is only one relationship that I have not felt guilty about or that I have neglected because of my disease.   It is the relationship with my Golden Retriever.  My support dog has been a nurse to me for many years.  She is by my side and loves me without explanations or apologies.  She only requires that we be in the same room and that I cuddle her like the lapdog that she thinks she is.  When I am sick in bed, she joins me.

My support dog does not sleep in bed with me other than when I have a migraine.  She has a sense when I am sick. She immediately jumps into bed and spoons me while I lay packed in ice.  If I move my fingers she begins wagging her tail and licking them to show me she’s watching me.  There have been many days that I laid in bed, all day, with her unmoving.

Emotional Support Animal

An emotional support animal provides its owners with therapeutic benefits through companionship. An emotional support dog is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefits to a person with a medically diagnosed disability. Support animals do not have to be trained for their role, but medical documentation is required in order to receive this designation. The dog is not considered an assistance (service) dog under the ADA if the requirements are met. Emotional support dogs do not have the intensive and specialized training that a service dog receives.

Chronic migraine is isolating and lonely. My migraine support dog gives me companionship and support that not many can give. From the time my husband lets her out in the morning until he returns at night, she does not leave my side.  I would crawl to the door to let her out if I needed to, yet she never asks me to when I am suffering a migraine.  If I am laying on the bathroom floor crumpled in pain, she is right there with me.  The pressure she lays against me is comforting.  When I am unable to open my eyes, I am able to pet and lay on her without having to talk or move.  It is the simplest form of love.

Emotional Support Dog

My Golden Retriever received knee surgery and was gated into our family room when I had a migraine quickly rising one particular day.  I was laying on the couch and needed to quickly leave the room to retreat to my bedroom.  At that point, I wanted to escape the light of the family room and knew I needed medication, rest, and space between my children and me.  I don’t like my children to see me in pain so when the migraine quickly went from a 5 to an 8 in intensity, I slowly raised from the couch.  My support dog immediately rose on 3 legs and started whining and crying.  My husband followed me up to our room and I asked him if she was hurt, needed pain pills, needed out, or what was wrong with my sweet dog.

After he checked on her, my husband explained that she was worried about me.  We watched her go from sleeping on her bed resting her knee to being worked up about me being sick.  She was upset that she couldn’t be with me and knew that I was in pain. My support dog has this sense about her that tells her when I need her.  She is not a trained therapy dog, but she is my migraine support dog.  Living with me she has become my own personal therapeutic dog and caretaker.  She’s amazing and life wouldn’t be the same without her.

Do you have a support pet that helps you when you are sick?

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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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42 Comments

  1. migrainepuzzlepieces on June 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Beautiful! This post touched my heart :).



  2. mymigrainelife on June 26, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks. I’m glad.



  3. stephharville on June 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Love this post. Dogs are amazing healers, my dog is so similar to this too and he knows all my secrets. Give her an extra treat today, much deserved!!! 😉



  4. mymigrainelife on June 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Thanks. Healers come in all forms!



  5. Justine on July 4, 2014 at 3:47 am

    I absolutely love this post. My dogs hover around me now in a way they never did before. They want and need for nothing. I love that your dog curls up with you and know just what you need. You are very lucky to have that kind of love. Doggies are the best. Thanks for sharing.



  6. mymigrainelife on July 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Thank you!



  7. heather on July 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Very awesome! We recently got a lab mix puppy, and I know we have a long, special relationship ahead of us. He is oblivious to pain so far, but I know that will change as he gets older.



  8. mymigrainelife on July 14, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Congrats on the new addition to your family. I hope your relationship is as special as mine 🙂



  9. Jennifer on November 30, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    This post is beautiful & it touched my heart. I just lost one of my babies & someone shared this link with me. Dogs are such amazing healers & lovers!



  10. mymigrainelife on November 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Jennifer, I’m sorry for your loss but glad my post touched you. Thank you for commenting and please pass it along to anyone who may enjoy it like yourself.



  11. Kendra Sparks on March 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    “It is the simplest form of love. She’s just there, and that’s exactly what I need.” I LOVE this statement! So perfectly explains how I feel about my 3 dogs while I am having a migraine.



  12. headachesandhangnails on April 26, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Sarah, that was beautiful written. I also have a dog who is my best nurse. Lulu is a mere ten pounds of companion. She happily spends her days lying quietly beside me on my bed, in the dark. I worry sometimes that her wee bladder might explode, because she seems to know when I shouldn’t get out of bed, and will simply wait it out. I had never really wanted a dog, but once it was suggested – and I saw those adorable tiny puppies – I couldn’t get it out of my mind and shortly thereafter, I got my first dog. Ten years later I cannot imagine life without her! Like you said, ‘it’s the simplest form of love”, and there’s no one or nothing that can replace it.
    Please give your dog a head scritch for me:) Linda



  13. Jessica on April 4, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    This was so lovely and uplifting to read. After suffering one of my worst attacks last night this gave me hope that their can be light in this darkness. Everything you mentioned that your sweet pup provides for you when your sick are the same things I long for when I’m sick. There is no escaping the pain but having that little bit of comfort can make all the difference. It is reassuring to read stories from people who experience the same things you do as having chronic migraines becomes so lonely. I can’t wait to get a dog/companion now.



  14. mymigrainelife on April 4, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for reading Jessica! I’m sorry you suffer and relate. I am happy you found my blog and hope it helps. Please follow and comment often. The feedback makes a good community for us all. It’s a tough road and knowing I’m not alone helps.



  15. Jim on July 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    I’ll immediately grab your rss feed as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service.

    Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognise
    in order that I may subscribe. Thanks. http://www.yahoo.net



  16. mymigrainelife on July 10, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Hi. There is a button to follow along via email in the sidebar. If you are on a phone you may need to scroll to the bottom of all the posts. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for following!



  17. jenn on August 12, 2016 at 8:02 am

    I have an akita we rescued, she busted in to me on the floor in the bathroom, and herded me back to bed, she is my protectress, nobody is allowed in. I REALLY wish I could find her original minion, rumor has it they had to go to a care facility, and she was shuffled for awhile…I wish I could let them know she is VERY spoiled, and is my fuzzy right hand!



  18. mymigrainelife on August 12, 2016 at 8:22 am

    You are lucky to have each other!



  19. Kami Lingren on September 2, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I can so relate. My dog has been a source of comfort and smiles throughout the last nearly two years I’ve had her. She brought sunshine into some very dark times for me and her cuddles are the best around. I love reading of others’ companionship with their pets. 🙂 They truly become family!



  20. mymigrainelife on September 2, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I totally agree. It’s a love humans can’t always give. Simple and pure.



  21. Kami Lingren on September 3, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Yes…well said!



  22. Oscar Dandelion on October 24, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Hello Sarah, it’s nice to meet you, I’m sorry to hear that you also get migraines.
    I like hearing about your special dog, I have little loving companions too.
    ???? ???? ????



  23. Elizabeth on October 24, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    It’s so wonderful that she’s given you so much comfort and love over the years. And I’m sure that she feels better knowing that she’s with you when you’re in so much pain. She can no doubt feel how she positively affects you.
    I’ve had Mobility Service Dog partners since I had my spinal cord injury. When I’m having a really horrible pain day my dogs have been there to help. They intuitively know if I want pressure on my spine or if I need them just to be near. Dogs are one of God’s greatest gifts to us.



  24. mymigrainelife on October 24, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Pets are amazing healers and family! Thanks for reading and commenting. Please continue to follow and share



  25. mymigrainelife on October 24, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    They really are healers and friends sent from above, I agree! I’m so glad you have such wonderful help…mentally and physically I’m sure they provide priceless service.



  26. Elizabeth on October 24, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    My first 2 partners are gone now. But they had wonderful lives and fabulous retirement packages. They held down couch cushions and taste-tested treats.



  27. mymigrainelife on October 24, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    It sounds like they were well loved and had a retirement many of us dream of…..



  28. Sheryl Chan on January 9, 2018 at 11:08 am

    This was such a heartwarming read. I definitely want a dog that watches over me when I own my own place in future, hopefully. One thing I was wondering though – how much exercise does a dog like yours need? I’m worried I canmt provide in that aspect, but I don’t want a toy dog 😉



  29. mymigrainelife on January 9, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    I love having a big dog! She is 12 now and can’t go for long walks. Before that we were quite active together and she used to hike with me and if I wasn’t up to it I could at least throw her a ball or let her out in my fenced in yard. With having small children I have always made it a priority to walk around the block for everyone’s health. Even when I’m hurting (unless I’m at a 7-10) I can still walk and it helps to get my blood moving. I hope you get your wish and a pet gives you love and comfort like mine gives me ❤️



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