Losing My Pain Pal

Losing My Pain Pal

My husband and I rescued my boxer Cassius when he was about four years old from somebody who was using him to breed and was neglecting him emotionally. We opened his small gated yard that he called home and Cassius never looked back when he followed us to our car. He was a 130+ pound lapdog. While he had his own demons from the experiences he faced before we were able to take custody of him, his devotion to me was beyond any dog I have ever had before in my life. I have chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and anxiety issues. Cassius never left my side whenever I had any kind of flare. Even though he was never professionally trained as a service dog or for emotional support services, they all came to him naturally.

My personal weighted blanket in dog form

While he was a Boxer, he was not crazy energetic and definitely enjoyed his new life of being inside in the air conditioning and cuddling with me on the couch or in the bed. When we first rescued him, he was heartworm positive so we went through a few rounds of antibiotic treatments to get him healthy again. Since he was so large, I went ahead and started him on hip and joint supplements to attempt to prevent arthritis and hip dysplasia. He was my own personal weighted blanket in all forms because he would crawl on top of me and lay there. At the beginning, he weighed just as much as I did and my husband thought him laying on top of me was crazy, but it was comforting for us both.

The start of our worries

One morning, we woke up and Cassius’ back end was out. My husband had to take a day off of work and when the vet’s office opened that morning we carried him into the office. He was not crying in pain and was sitting up on his front legs, looking around at us and the office staff. Our vet said we could treat him since he seemed to be so very much with us still. When they did the X-Rays, they found that my preventative medications had worked; Cassius did not have arthritis or hip dysplasia but they believed he was having nerve issues in his spine. They gave him a large shot of cortisone steroid shot and a week worth of the steroid pills, plus tramadol for his pain. The treatment did the trick for a good while. I had my buddy back and he seemed to be doing fine.

Muscle atrophy

Out of the blue, Cassius started experiencing weakness in the muscles in his back legs. I would occasionally have to help him get up or go down the stairs outside to go the restroom. Again he was not whining about being in a lot of pain but we still gave him the pain medicine the vet provided for him just in case. Over one night, his back end just completely went out on us. My husband carried him outside and when he set him in the grass, Cassius peed laying right there. I told my husband to stay home and I called the vet when they opened. My best friend met us at the vet. This time, there was nothing they could do to help him.

Losing my pain pal

At 11 years old, my Cassius was out of lifelines. I laid on the floor of the vet’s office with Cassius as they gave him each medicine to relax him and then to put him to sleep. I gently loved on him, even after the light was gone from his eyes. The hardest thing to do was to leave my best pain pal ever there with the vet. I signed paperwork for them to make his paw print in plaster and to cremate him for me. I spent several days occasionally looking for him when I would first wake up or when I was completely miserable. That type of companion is so difficult to lose and almost impossible to replace. As we finish rebuilding from Harvey, we will have a shelf dedicated to my lost pain pal that will include his urn, paw print, photo, and cards from the vet, crematory, and some close friends. I am still not over the loss of my Cassius and my husband’s dog is also grieving in his own way. I hope to eventually find another pain pal but I am not sure how another one may ever be able to live up to the legacy left by Cassius.

Do you have a pain pal that helps you with your chronic pain? Have you lost one yet?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (21)
  • Cappucinno
    4 months ago

    My beloved grey cat Baci was my everything especially when I was so sick with my migraines along with my other health issues. I have other cats who are as loving but I think there was always something special with Baci and Me. Of course the fact that she lived for 18 1/2 good years with all her wisdom probably had something to do with it. Maybe because the word Baci in Italian means Kiss, very appropriate. Well she passed this last March after her illnesses caught up with her, but only rough for maybe the last 5 weeks of her life. Just reading about Cassius and writing this about Baci brings back too many tears, but we have to remember the good life we gave our beloved pet/family members. Baci was also a rescue kitten found eating out of a dumpster with her sister and when I received her she was still only 9 weeks old. She is so missed everyday and I have her ashes and paw prints and fur clippings and sympathy cards.

  • bluebird
    6 months ago

    I have had dogs as large as Akitas and as small as Japanese Chin decide to attune themselves to my confusing presentations of migraine. They each in their own way, would not only comfort me, but alert the house and neighbors if “I was going down”. The level of focused attention was a great comfort . More importantly, their behavior would let me know what I might have been losing track of…something was changing and my ability to do self care was impaired. Those skillful pals are gone and I have a new puppy…not yet a year old. She has a great nose. I hope I will be lucky enough to again have a self trained service dog. Creatures have amazing patience and what passes for loyalty feels more like love.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    I’m so sorry that you have lost some of your own pain pals. You are definitely correct that there is something comforting about them being able to know when we need them. I wish you the best of luck with your new puppy and hope that she is able to pick up the torch left behind by the other two. I do believe they are loyal and that they do love us. Sending you lots of love and strength.
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • Angiestl
    6 months ago

    I’m very sorry you lost Cassius. He sounds like he was absolutely wonderful. *Hugs!!* I hope you have some pain free time to grieve properly.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thank you so much for your kindness.
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • thmabz57
    6 months ago

    In December of 2013, I was once again hospitalize because of severe, chronic migraines. When I met with the Neurologist he said he wanted me to do 4 things…Take at least 30 minutes a day to do something just for me, take time to mediate or pray, No travel or any scary, loud movies (anything that would cause stress good or bad) for at least 6 months and get a dog or cat! My husband had aways been against getting an animal but I had been working on him for years…so I looked at my husband and said I am getting a dog…doctors orders!!! When I got out of the hospital I started looking at the local pet rescues. January 2014 we got Tali….then in 2016 we got another dog Evan, this time it was my husband who wanted another one. They both provide so much comfort and joy to the both of us.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    That’s a wonderful doctor orders/prescription!!!! I’m so glad you were able to get them. Sometimes when migraine pain has us so miserable, they are able to provide us with so much comfort. Hopefully yours cuddle with you when you don’t feel well. Sending you lots of love
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • Karen
    6 months ago

    I’m so sad for you for the loss of Cassius-your comfort and joy. I know this feeling all too well. I lost my best friend ever-SoBe-a bruised and battered street dog we rescued who turned out to be the best dog/companion of ANY SPECIES! ever. My heart was so broken for so long. It’s the price we pay for that kind of love in our life. It’s a blessing every day they are with us. And then that one horrible day we all know is coming.
    SoBe used to help me distract myself from my migraine pain by being my “Downton Abbey” companion! We’d watch the recorded shows snuggled up together when I was able to endure watching TV. And being with him made it better. My 55 lb “weighted blanket” and constant kisser! He just KNEW when I needed his comfort.
    I still talk to him every day telling him I love him and miss him.
    We were so blessed to have these “gifts in fur packages” in our lives!

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    That makes me think of the story about a vet making a house call and needing to put the dog down. The parents wanted the son to understand but he said that dogs lived shorter lives because they are born knowing how to love and trust. While we have to learn these things so we have to live longer than dogs do.
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • anonbutanon
    6 months ago

    I’m in the process of losing my pal the same way, albeit slower. My boy Trevor has DM – degenerative myelopathy – and has reached stage 3. It’s terrible to have to discuss with my husband what will be the determining factors for when I have to put him to sleep. He still has joy and, as a Cavalier, greatly enjoys his food. When he barks, tho, I have to fight crying. His bark is so weak – a sign of the progression of the disease. In the past, he slept in bed with me and was my constant companion thru the worst migraines. He now sleeps on the floor next to my bed and I am his companion in his time of need. They really are our best friends. I’m sorry you lost your precious Cassius. I’m sorry I will be losing my boy. I think he has no pain and is only confused at his lack of mobility. If I am supporting his hind end with his straps, he even tries to play with his sister, like a puppet on a string. I am sad I am watching him disappear but grateful that I can give of myself to thank him for all he has given me.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    It’s definitely hard to watch them once they start struggling like that. I’m so sorry you are going through this with him. It’s never easy. My Cassius was 12 and it still was not easy. I’m sending you lots of strength. Hopefully it will help you both get through it. ❤️
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • John1381
    6 months ago

    I’m very sorry for both of you, and all who have lost their pals. I am on my 3rd pain pal and they have all helped enormously.

    A home needs a dog in it.

    Best wishes to you.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    I’m hopefully that the next dog is able to pick up the torch and be a pain pal too and not just a pet. Although I believe only time will be able to tell on that aspect, unfortunately. I’m glad your dogs have all been able to pick up pain pal duties for you. It definitely helps us humans.
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • Lori
    6 months ago

    Ohhh, this made me cry. Your obvious love for Cassius and his innate ability to comfort you are a gift, even after he’s gone. The memories you have are still yours. Cherish them. I love that you made a little Cassius memory shelf.
    I’ve lost 3 dogs that were my pain pals over the last 14 years. I now have a Cocker Spaniel rescue who lays across my legs like a weighted blanket, like Cassius did for you. I’m having double knee replacement in 2 weeks, and just not sure how I’m going to keep her off me, now that she’s learned where her “place” is!

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    6 months ago

    Oh boy, I hope she will understand that she cannot climb on!! I’m sorry that you have to have to have knee replacement surgery’s hope it goes well and you heal quickly! Sending you lots of strength!
    Amanda Workman (moderator and author)

  • 6 months ago

    Thank you for your lovely tribute, Amanda. The hearts of all of us who have/had 4-legged pain pals go out to you & your husband on your loss. My pain pal was a beautiful snow-colored cat named Boo Boo who was of tremendous comfort to me as I was diagnosed with chronic migraines. She seemed to know when a migraine was about to hit & would snuggle close until the pain lifted. She was my companion for 5 years until she passed away. I still miss her. About 2 years ago I adopted another cat who is also a wonderful pain pal & companion. He is also intuitive & stays close when a migraine attack is imminent.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    4 months ago

    I’m hoping the dog my husband brought home from the shelter will learn to be a pain pal too. So far he is by far to puppy-ish, even though they guessed he was three. We think he is more like 1.5 years old!! My fingers are crossed that he can pick up Cassius’ torch for me. It’s definitely hard to not have that pain pal.
    Amanda Workman

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    6 months ago

    I’m so sorry about your loss of Cassius! He was an amazing pain pal.

  • dmae
    6 months ago

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your Cassius.

  • deedeevee1
    6 months ago

    So sorry for your loss. Mine is still with me. But he’s 10 and he’s starting to have issues.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    6 months ago

    Sorry to hear that Deedeevee1. It isn’t easy when they get older.

  • Poll