The Mighty Logo

Julianne Hough Shares How Her Dog Helped Her Through Endometriosis Surgery

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

As any animal enthusiast knows, love doesn’t have to come in human form. Our pets may not be able to talk to us, but their loyalty and support can be a great comfort when we’re going through health challenges. Dancer and actress Julianne Hough paid tribute to her dog in a sweet post you may identify with if you also have a “guardian angel” pet.

Last week Hough posted a photo on Instagram of herself lying in bed with her dog, Lexi, in 2008, after a laparoscopic surgery for her endometriosis. She also posted a photo of herself and Lexi after her latest laparoscopic surgery.

Laparoscopies are minimally invasive surgical procedures that allow doctors to see inside your body as well as operate through several small incisions. Currently, surgery is the only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis. During the procedure, a surgeon removes tissue suspected to be endometriosis and sends it to pathology to confirm. Endometriosis is similar to endometrium — the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus — but not identical.

“#FBF to when I had my first laparoscopy for my endometriosis back in 2008 when my angel baby Lexi was only a few months old. Cut to nine years later and not much has changed… except the size of her little head,” Hough wrote. “My second laparoscopy for my endometriosis was over the holidays and of course, who was right by my side? My guardian angel Lexi.”

“Lexi always knows when I’m sick, feeling sad, or when I need her, and I don’t even know it…” she continued. “Dogs are just incredible! I love my Lexi soooo much!”

Pets are a huge source of support for many in our chronic illness community. Studies have shown numerous health benefits of having pets, from lowering anxiety, stress and depression to encouraging socializing and exercising. We wanted to know how pets help our Mighty community cope with their illnesses, so we asked them to share a photo of themselves and their pet and explain how it helps them. We were quickly overwhelmed with responses.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “Some days I’m so sick I can’t eat anything, or I’m so anxious I can’t even get out of bed. Darby gives me a reason to keep fighting when I just want to give up.” — Kat A.

woman lying with dog on couch, dog's head on her chest

2. “I have a service dog. Service dogs are technically not pets but he snuggles with me when I’ve been feeling really sick and always wants physical contact with me. He supports me by sleeping with me and making me smile when I am in pain, it’s the best kind of love!” — Cassidy S.

woman lying on couch with dog on his back next to her

3. “My four rabbits not only helped me through my darkest, most painful days when I was unable to even wash or feed myself, never mind work. But my bunny enthusiasm and knowledge have enabled me to get a job as a veterinary care assistant at the most amazing practice where the owners are 100 percent accepting and actively helpful when it comes to my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.” — Lauren K.

woman holding bunny

4. “This is Spartacus Harrington. He’s still a little baby and he likes to bite, but he’s giving me some energy and he’s really adorable. Soon he will begin leash training. I have Chiari malformation and syringomyelia, and I enjoy traveling and seeing new places when I’m not stuck in bed. I’m also going get him microchipped and a kitten backpack so we can hike together.” — Kerry H.

cat pulling on person's necklace

5. “This little noodle, Soba. He’s adorable, super calm and actually feels really good on my sore joints as he explores. Plus, considering I’m not working these days, he gives me more of a schedule between feeding and cleaning his habitat. Better yet, he’s nocturnal, so he really only moves about at night, which means when I’m up all night due to painsomnia, I’m not as alone as I’d otherwise be. Love this little guy!” — Kate H.

hand holding small snake

6. “My Ollie bird is my best buddy. He always wants his momma. He loves to play and dance and constantly says love you and kisses my face (more so when I get depressed…even licking my tears and kissing my face when I cry). He is such a light in my dark chronic pain and illness bubble. I live far from friends so it’s so nice to have my constant companion…even though it means I watch ‘Cinderella’ every day (it’s his favorite…seriously check my Instagram). Ollie is a white bellied caique I rescued…even though he chose me.” — Katherine M.

woman with colorful bird

7. “After a long day of uncertainty and wondering what pain the next day will bring… my boy just needs to sit with his dog and ponder then suddenly all is right in the world!” — B-Ray and Keira P.

boy sitting with dog on grass

8. “My horse, Trip, has been my partner in crime for over 6 years. I deal with chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, PCOS, anxiety, and depression and have had several serious bouts of illnesses and injuries during my time with him. When I was first battling the headaches and migraines, getting to ride him just a tiny bit helped me push through… His unconditional love helps me through the hard days, and when I am feeling well enough to ride, it helps me feel strong and capable, which can be so elusive when feeling like you cannot do what you used to.” — Johannah L.

girl standing next to horse

9. “Duke is my main man. He is my clam. He warms me when I have poor circulation, and just helps my blood pressure and anxiety. I also have another dog, and I love her, but Duke is my special boy who got me through a very rough time in my early adulthood. He is 10.” — Bailey S.

woman lying with dog resting head on her chest

10. “It’s me and Elly! We go to the beach together, it calms me down. And she gives the most amazing hugs with her forehead, she just pushes the top of her head into me. I love her. My hope is to have her attend therapy dog school so she can share her love with others in the community someday.” — Kristy M.

woman wearing sunglasses smiling with dog

Originally published: January 18, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home