Weird But True: Did My Dog Take On My Migraine Symptoms?

There was a time I didn’t believe in unseen elements. My existential crisis kept me locked in a closed-off mindset. I only considered those notions that were backed up with solid proof. Jean-Paul Sartre was my hero and his words, “I am no longer sure of anything,” hung over my bathroom mirror in French. (It took me years to understand what they meant.)

The invisibility of migraine changed my mindset

Then, as I grew, so did my beliefs. I fell in love—that was unseen. I started getting migraines. They were invisible but I totally felt them. Monsieur Sartre was left behind because I’d become more confident in the unexplainable—or had I? As if to test this new mindset, my dog decided to push my sense of open-mindedness to a strange new level.

An addition to the family

My husband and I rescued a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix puppy when we were first engaged. We named her Adelaide and true to her breed she quickly learned how to do our taxes, answer over 100 requests before her first birthday, and love us with an uncompromising loyalty I’d not witnessed in a dog. When she entered my life my migraines were infrequent, but as our time together went on she saw my life change.

Changing migraine

Adelaide watched me spend more and more days in bed. My attacks became chronic and she checked on me more often than she checked on her treat ball. What I never intended was for her to figure out a way to take on my migraine symptoms.

Nausea during a migraine attack but no vomiting

I started noticing that on nights I suffered through migraines, I had no nausea. My brain would roast itself like normal but I wouldn’t vomit—Adelaide would. At first, I was concerned about her health and kept track of all her activities and treats. I took her to the vet. Nothing was wrong. That’s when I noticed our pattern. It didn’t happen every time, but it was consistent enough for me to make notes.

My dog took on my migraine symptoms

Since my dog understood the most conversational of commands like, “Could you please push open the door?” or “Can you take this note to your dad?” (Not an exaggeration.) I decided to have a chat. “Adelaide, you don’t have to take on my migraines for me. I don’t want you to feel bad.” I got a face full of kisses.

This pattern went on for years.

Grief and changing migraine patterns

Then, 14 years after rescuing Adelaide, she left us one sunny afternoon because of an unseen blood clot. There was no warning and we were devastated. Later that evening a migraine took hold and I vomited. Ever since, when I have a migraine, I'm nauseated and I vomit.

Was it a coincidence?

Maybe it was all a coincidence, or maybe my migraines were destined to evolve. Or, is their room to believe that Adelaide had an unseen sense that allowed her to help me? I can’t explain it.

I do know that even though I can’t see her or touch her, I can still feel her love like she’s sitting next to me. And I can’t explain that either.

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