Writer Lena Dunham adopted Lamby the dog four years ago from a no-kill shelter in Brooklyn, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream the star pursued despite the canine allergies of her live-in boyfriend, musician Jack Antonoff.
The trio’s tumultuous relationship was well-documented by Dunham from the start — she penned a New Yorker essay on her affinity for Lamby and his affinity for late-night bark sessions. Lamby made regular appearances on her Instagram account and was the subject of many a Twitter musing, often about his mischievousness and proclivity to bite.
The dog’s scruffy white mug even appeared in Dunham’s 2014 Vogue cover shoot, further establishing his role as central to the actress’s brand.
Then suddenly last spring, Lamby disappeared.
In late June, Dunham explained why: Lamby had gone to doggy rehab, a professional facility in Los Angeles called the Zen Dog, and had been readopted by a former trainer with experience handling troubled canines. Dunham wrote on Instagram that Lamby “suffered terrible abuse as a pup” that made it difficult for him to live in a traditional home.
“Honesty is my jam,” she said.
Now, weeks later, the Brooklyn animal shelter where Lamby first came from is contradicting the narrative Dunham delivered both in her New Yorker essay and Instagram confessional.
“When she adopted the dog from us, it wasn’t crazy,” Robert Vazquez, a spokesman for the BARC shelter in New York, told Yahoo in an email. “I have pictures of the dog loving on Lena and her mom, which is weird if the dog was abused. It wouldn’t be cuddling with her or be in the bed with her ‘boyfriend’ in the pages of Vogue.”
Vazquez contradicted Dunham’s claims that Lamby had been abused by prior owners. She wrote in the New Yorker essay that the dog had had “three other homes, three other names, but now he’s mine mine mine.”
“We checked the records for Lamby,” Vazquez told Yahoo. “He was ‘owner surrendered, not enough time,’ so we do not know where she got ‘multiple owners that abused the dog.’”
Vazquez said he had been in charge of the dogs at BARC for more than a decade and was there for the four visits Dunham had with Lamby before adopting him.
“If Lamby had a bad past or was abused, do you think BARC would have adopted him to Lena knowing she’s a new star and put her — or the dog — in that situation?” Vazquez said. “We would have told her if the dog had issues. We are a no-kill shelter. We don’t lie about the dogs’ histories because that gets them returned — and mentally it’s not good for dogs.”
These accusations, if you can even call them that, are hardly crisis-inducing, but they play into the hand of Dunham’s critics, who have accused her of being tone deaf or skewing facts in her personal writings. Her depiction of a sexual assault she experienced in college was called into question by conservative blogs after she published it in her memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl,” and in 2016 she caught heat for writing in her newsletter that Odell Beckham Jr. ignored her at the Met Ball because she wasn’t attractive enough.
Most recently, she sparked outrage when she remarked during her “Women of the Hour” podcast that “I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”
She later apologized for her Beckham and abortion comments, something the fiery and unfiltered writer has had to do on several occasions since rocketing into the public eye when “Girls,” her wildly popular HBO show, premiered in 2012.
For Lamby, though, Dunham will not say sorry.
“It’s come to my attention that the staff at the shelter where I adopted Lamby have a very different account of his early life and behavioral issues than I do,” Dunham wrote on Instagram late Thursday night in response to the Yahoo interview with BARC Shelter. “While I’m sorry to have disappointed them, I can’t apologize.”
It's come to my attention that the staff at the shelter where I adopted Lamby have a very different account of his early life and behavioral issues than I do. While I'm sorry to have disappointed them, I can't apologize. Lamby was and is one of the great loves of my life. When I met him I knew we'd have an amazing journey. But his aggression – which was unpredictable- and his particular issues, which remain myriad, weren't manageable, at least not by me. I did what I thought the best mother would do, which was to give him a life that provided for his specific needs. He'd been with me for nearly four years and I was his mom- I was in the best position to discern what those needs were. After countless hours of training, endless financial support and a lot of tears he was given access to a better life. I still support him financially and I'll always be there for him in every way but he's notably happier in his new surroundings. Why should this story be subject to scrutiny and anger? It is willfully misunderstanding the truth. I hope those judging can imagine the incredible pain of letting go of your favorite creature on EARTH because you know you can't help them be healthy and happy. I would never say an unkind word about the staff of BARC, what they do is amazing and life saving for these animals- but we have different accounts of Lamby's behavior and they were not present in my home nor did they live with him for an extended period. They did not witness the consistent and responsible care I provided. I have weathered a lot of micro-scandals but this one hurts MOST, because of the vulnerability of letting people know Lamby and my story, and because I miss him so damn much. This is the painting that greets me every day when I walk into my home. This is the animal who taught me about loving and letting go. I know I'm a lot of fun to place your issues on, but I won't let anyone hang their hat on this peg. Not this time.
Dunham said that the dog “was and is one of the great loves of my life” but that his aggression was unpredictable and unmanageable. She once shared a photo of her bleeding after Lamby had reportedly bitten her, and she wrote in her New Yorker essay that the dog bit her boyfriend. He ruined furniture, Dunham claimed, and sometimes even drank his own urine.
“Why should this story be subject to scrutiny and anger?” Dunham wrote Thursday. “It is willfully misunderstanding the truth. I hope those judging can imagine the incredible pain of letting go of your favorite creature on EARTH because you know you can’t help them be healthy and happy. I would never say an unkind word about the staff of BARC, what they do is amazing and life saving for these animals- but we have different accounts of Lamby’s behavior and they were not present in my home nor did they live with him for an extended period. They did not witness the consistent and responsible care I provided.
Dunham said that of all the “micro-scandals” she has experienced, “this one hurts MOST.”
Earlier this year, Dunham adopted two bronze-colored poodles named Karen and Susan, both of which she flaunted on a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. The actress and writer often features rescue dogs that need adopting on her Instagram page and has been a prominent advocate for animal welfare.
“We are deeply grateful to Lena and Jack for finding Lamby a loving home where he can do just that,” Michelle Cho, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, told Yahoo. “Lena is a wonderful advocate for dog adoption and hope she will continue to use her platform to spotlight the homeless animal crisis and urge her legions of fans to consider rescuing.”
Last month, after Dunham told her fans that Lamby had gone to doggy rehab, his new owner Dani Shay posted about the situation on Instagram.
“Thank you Lena, for rescuing Lamby and being a dedicated parent/angel to him,” Shay wrote. “I’m sure you know how much he loves and appreciates you. And yes, it’s true, he does still drink from ‘the golden tap’ now and then, but that’s our weird little boy! He’s working on it.”
Hi, @lenadunham. Lamby says "Hello!" and "Boww, bow!!" to you, @jackantonoff, and the entire @Matt_THEZENDOG Team. Thank you Lena, for rescuing Lamby and being a dedicated parent/angel to him. I'm sure you know how much he loves and appreciates you. And yes, it's true, he does still drink from "the golden tap" now and then, but that's our weird little boy! He's working on it. :) We practice everything he learned at #THEZENDOG, plus swimming and fetch, on a regular basis. Like you, I've hesitated to talk about my experiences with re-homing. I know firsthand how painful it is to let go of a pet, or to have to change course, especially after bonding and working so hard with them. When Ali and I decided to part ways, and she moved back to NY to be on Broadway, we had to consider what would be best for Honey, our sweet pit bull. We discussed options at great length. Even though it hurt to imagine someone else having Honey, we agreed that, for many reasons, she would be happiest and most supported if we found her a new home. We hoped it would be with someone we knew and trusted. Coincidentally and very luckily, my good friend @stefanie_paulette was looking to adopt a female pit (specifically!), around that time. Now Honey lives in Colorado, where she frequents grassy fields with other big playful dogs. We got to be with her when she was healing from surgery, and helped her into the next chapter of her life. I guess what I'm saying is, it's a gift to care for an animal, at any capacity. They feel our hearts' intention to love them, even when changes are needed, and they love us back. They can often thrive in new homes, if the transition is executed thoughtfully and responsibly by everyone involved. So thanks again for sharing Lamby with me, and being his first home out of the shelter. He is loved, learning new things, and cracking me and my friends up all the time. I adore him. Love, Lamby's Other Parent, Dani
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