Celebrity

Twitter Bites Back After Lena Dunham Gives Up Her Adopted Dog—and It's Harsh

The actress adopted Lamby four years ago, but recently moved him to a training facility due to behavioural issues

On June 20, Lena Dunham opened up on Instagram about the decision to rehome her dog Lamby to The Zen Dog, a professional training facility in Los Angeles. She adopted Lamby four years ago, but wrote that she and her partner, musician and producer Jack Antonoff, had been struggling to cope with the dog’s behavioural problems.

In the lengthy post, the 31-year-old actor explained their decision to send Lamby to the facility in March of 2016. “Last March, after four years of challenging behavior and aggression that could not be treated with training or medication or consistent loving dog ownership, Lamby went to live at an amazing professional facility in Los Angeles.”

A lot of you have been asking where Lamby is these days since he’s always been the star of my gram and I’ve been posting pics of my poodle girls. Well, you know honesty is my jam but this one has been really heartbreaking to talk about. But I feel I have to share that last March, after four years of challenging behavior and aggression that could not be treated with training or medication or consistent loving dog ownership, Lamby went to live at an amazing professional facility in Los Angeles @matt_thezendog where an awesome person named @therealdanishay (who is educated in a rescue dog’s specific trauma) loves him so hard. Lamby suffered terrible abuse as a pup that made having him in a typical home environment dangerous to him and others- we needed to be responsible to ourselves, our neighbors and especially our beloved boy. Jack and I will miss him forever but sometimes when you love something you have to let it go (especially when it requires tetanus shots and stitches.) Someday I’ll really write about the pain and relief of letting Lamby go off and really be Lamby, biting and peeing in his own mouth and all. There were so many lessons in it, about forgiving myself and loving with an open palm and giving in to a larger plan. Shout out to @jennikonner for listening to endless hours of Lamby pain, and especially my partner @jackantonoff for loving him even when he ruined floors and couches and our life. Jack knows what Lamby means to me and he let me come to the decision in my own time even when it made his days challenging. Susan & Karen will never be my first loves, but they are fuzzy and hilarious stuffing for the hole Lamby left and we cherish them deeply #lamby #thefirstcutisthedeepest #foreverlamb PS If you have a similar situation, please know its possible to responsibly re-home your rescue rather than sending them back into the shelter system. It can require patience, diligence and often a financial contribution but there are solutions that leave everyone happy and safe. You will always have been your dog’s first stop outside shelter life and that’s beautiful.

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The Girls creator adopted Lamby in 2013 from BARC Shelter, a Brooklyn-based no-kill facility dedicated to rehoming abandoned animals. After taking Lamby in, Dunham wrote a personal essay in the New Yorker explaining that her new rescue dog had previously had “three other homes, three other names.” Earlier this month, BARC spokesperson Robert Vazquez refuted Dunham’s assertion that Lamby had a long history of abuse, telling Yahoo Celebrity via email that the dog was “owner surrendered, not enough time,” meaning that the dog’s owner said their reason for giving him up was that they did not have time to care for him. “So we do not know where she got ‘multiple owners that abused the dog,'” Vazquez continued. 

He continued, “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.” In 2014, Dunham was featured on the cover of Vogue and posed with her pup and Girls co-star Adam Driver in the accompanying spread. In the photos, Lamby is pictured walking the streets of New York and lounging in bed, seemingly well-trained and content, according to Vasquez.

In response to Vasquez’s comments, Dunham posted another lengthy Instagram caption on July 6. In it, she writes, “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.”

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.

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Still, many took to Twitter to voice their distaste for Dunham’s decision—and it is HARSH.

Matt Meisner, founder of The Zen Dog where Lamby currently resides, quickly came to the actress’ defense, posting a screenshot on Instagram of a People article about the issue. “Thousands of dog owners … have been violently blindsided by our ‘sweet, loving, happy, excited, playful, cuddly dogs,'” he wrote. “I’ve found that other than neglect or abuse, the number one cause for bad behavior, including aggression, is inappropriate or excessive human affection.”

CORRECTION: In @people a spokesman for the BARC no-kill animal shelter said “…if [Lena Dunham’s dog Lamby] was abused..it wouldn’t be cuddling with her or be in the bed with her ‘boyfriend’ in the pages of Vogue.” Unfortunately experience has shown me otherwise. Thousands of dog owners, my wife @brooklinbeisner and I once included, have been violently blindsided by our “sweet, loving, happy, excited, playful, cuddly dogs.” I’ve found that other than neglect or abuse, the number one cause for bad behavior, including aggression, is inappropriate or excessive human affection. Too much ‘sugar’. I understand that BARC’s commitment to the welfare of the animals they rescue is deep and true. And I know Lena Dunham to be a sincere and compassionate rescue owner. But there is more to consider. Such is the way of #THEZENDOG #therearenobaddogs #rescueordie @lenadunham @lennyletter @lamby_antonoff @alexiafedz @nymag @thecut @allisonpdavis @hollywoodreporter @yahoocelebrity @cosmopolitan

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The decision to give up a beloved pet is, for most pet owners, not an easy one. If Dunham and Antonoff were truly struggling with Lamby’s behavioural issues, then we’d like to think her decision to rehome him was the responsible one. We hope Lamby finds the love and compassion he deserves—and that Twitter can find a bit more compassion, too.

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