Other than her hit show Girls, there are two things Lena Dunham is most known for, at least as far as I’m concerned: apologizing and collecting and breaking pets like so many Precious Moments figurines. In fact, she was able to combine both of those passions back in 2017 when the world first learned about the tragic saga of one Mr. Lamby Antonoff-Dunham (more on that later). Lamby, however, was just the beginning.
Since then, Dunham has adopted pet after pet after pet. And while almost every one of her companions enjoys an onslaught of love and attention in the initial months after its adoption, the ones who manage to survive this period of affection quickly vanish into the Instagram ether, displaced by the new and rarely heard from again.
Lena, of course, has always insisted that she is nothing if not doting. “You can say a lot of shit about me,” Lena Dunham said a few years back in a profile written by Allison P. Davis of The Cut, “but I am a very committed pet owner.” As for the occasional death? “Well, when you are a nice person who adopts end-of-life pets, sometimes they die,” she said in that same profile, by way of paraphrase. With that kind of self-declared generosity of spirit, the casual observer might even start to believe her. After all, it’s hard to keep track of any sort of body count with so many comings and goings. The sheer volume of pets she parades around can be disorienting, with one hairless cat fading into the next. Has she owned two? Six? Does she even know herself?
After spending far more hours than I’d care to admit poring over pretty much everything Lena Dunham has ever revealed about the various animals in her care, we finally have some answers. And what I’ve discovered is: Please do not give this lady any more fucking pets. I’m begging you.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: This was Lena’s “first (and worst)” pet, which she acquired at the tender age of 6.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Ate a worm at some point.
CURRENT STATUS: Deceased
CAUSE OF DEATH ACCORDING TO DUNHAM: The newt “choked to death on a bad worm.”
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Does Lena really know what a newt looks like when it chokes? Newts are very small. How does Lena know that the worm was “bad?” Is it this badness that caused the newt to choke? How does one assess whether a newt’s choking is due to the worm being too large or too foul?
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Unknown.
Uno, Bruno, and Devo (pit bull puppies)
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Dunham claims in a New Yorker piece that, while strolling down the street at 15, she stumbled across an animal rescue booth where a volunteer told her he knew of a box sitting in a parking lot somewhere that contained a dead pit bull and her three puppies (which the guy, for some reason, simply left there?). Dunham proceeds to describe how she got into a van with this guy, how he drove her to that parking lot and handed her, a teen, three newborn puppies (which, again, for some reason this animal rescue guy had found and decided to leave) and then dropped her off at the subway.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Though they spent only a short time together, the memories would last a lifetime. Specifically, it seems, this memory:
Once, I left the room for too long and when I came back they were sucking each other’s tiny dicks, in a circle, like crazed swingers, blind to the fact that those things weren’t nipples.
CURRENT STATUS: Presumed dead due to time, although I suppose anything is possible.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Precisely what animal rescue group would discover a box of puppies nuzzling their dying mother and decide simply to move along? Why did they decide a 15-year-old was equipped to care for puppies so new they required bottle-feeding?
At one point, Dunham describes how she stopped in at a vet’s office on her way home, writing that the vet “checked each dog for a cleft palate and explained that I had to feed them every two hours, and that I should rub their anuses with a hot cloth to express their bowels.” I spoke to Dr. Mark Primiano, a Chicago-area vet, who said that, while the directions Dunham was given sound reasonable, “I do question the hell out of a vet reacting to a 15-year-old walking in with three newborn pups they just found by just going, ‘Well, here is how you take care of them!’ instead of getting the child to surrender them to the office or a shelter.”
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Maybe five days, max
Guy, India, Sophia, and Thor (cats)
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Very little is known to the public about these particular pets, who were first mentioned in the caption of a 2015 Instagram post about someone else’s cat. While we do know that Thor was acquired in 2001, the origins of the rest of the group remain a mystery.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Take it away, Lena.
We here at Trashberg pray that Guy has found some semblance of peace in the great beyond.
CURRENT STATUS: Guy and Thor are both presumed dead due to time. The deaths of India and Sophia have been confirmed.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Lena Dunham has repeatedly claimed that she grew up with four hairless cats. As seen above, Sophia quite clearly has hair. This isn’t really a question as much as it’s just a really bizarre thing to lie about.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Kindergarten age to early adulthood, roughly.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Lamby, as far as I’ve been able to tell, was the first pet Lena took full responsibility of as an adult. She adopted him from Brooklyn’s BARC shelter in January 2013 and immediately made him a social media star.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Ah, where to begin. Inasmuch you’ve managed to find your way here in the first place, there’s a good chance you already have some familiarity with the Lamby saga. I’m not going to rehash it in its entirety (mostly because I already did that a few years ago, for those not caught up), but there’s nothing wrong with hitting a few high points.
In 2014, after already having written extensively about Lamby’s alleged neuroses one year prior, Lena posted a since-deleted photo to her Instagram of her bloodied rear—Lamby’s handiwork.
There were other signs of Lamby’s distress that seemed to be lightheartedly dismissed—like repeated references to the fact that Lamby often attempted to drink his own urine as well as what sounds like excessive vomiting. According to People, Dunham took Lamby to six different vets, at least one of whom attempted to treat the dog with acupuncture.
Apparently none of it worked, because in June 2017, Dunham revealed that, over a year earlier, she’d sent Lamby to live at “an amazing professional facility in Los Angeles.”
In the announcement, Dunham claimed that Lamby had “suffered terrible abuse as a pup that made having him in a typical home environment dangerous to him and others.” When asked about Lamby’s past by Yahoo Entertainment, though, the animal shelter pushed back on Dunham’s claims, saying that they’d checked the records and “he was ‘owner surrendered, not enough time,’ so we do not know where she got ‘multiple owners that abused the dog.’” There was some more back and forth before things died down, but Lena’s status as a questionable pet owner had been cemented.
CURRENT STATUS: Lamby was eventually adopted by a former trainer at the LA facility to which he’d been relegated, and he continues to live out his days in peace. His most recent sighting occurred just this past May.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Pretty much everything.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Just over three years.
Karen D'Amango and Susan Simmons (poodles)
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: On February 10, 2017, Dunham introduced her two new dogs, Susan and Karen, by bringing them out on The Tonight Show, video of which has since been almost completely scrubbed from the Internet. Gossip Cop’s post on the interview seems to have been taken down entirely. The Boston Herald’s post on the interview also seems to have been taken down. The NBC.com clip and the official channel’s YouTube clip? Taken down as well.
The one remaining, semi–easily accessible copy of the interview I could find was on the Spanish-language site verTele. The Internet Archive’s video library also snagged a copy of the episode, the relevant portions of which you can view here, though it’s mostly just her reading things in character as the dogs in question squirm and try to get away. I would suggest doing quite literally anything else with your time.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Karen and Susan’s biggest claim to fame is the fact that they are the only pets in Lena’s current lineup who overlapped with the infamous Lamby. In fact, Karen and Susan were trotted around for months before Lena revealed that Lamby had gotten the boot. Little did they know, their preferred status would go almost as quickly as it came, for Lena’s first hairless cat was just around the corner
CURRENT STATUS: Karen and Susan are both believed to still be alive in wherever it is Lena keeps her pets who aren’t the favorite of the moment. Karen was most recently spotted in May 2020, while Susan was last seen a full year prior, in May 2019.
Though at least while in L.A., the dogs seemingly share the guest house with Lena’s live-in decorator. According to her Cut profile: “She redecorates all the time; in fact, her interior designer, Paul, lives with her; he moved into her guesthouse alongside her two poodles, Susan and Karen, when Dunham got sick a few years back.”
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Did Susan and Karen ever meet Lamby? Did he warn them of their fate?
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Five years and change.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Dunham first got Bowie in June 2018 after her friend Scotty Goldbeck found herself no longer able to care for the dog. When Bowie came to Lena, he’d already been walking this Earth for 13 years.
NOTABLE EVENTS: On July 14, 2018, Bowie let out a silent cry for help.
Bowie’s message is plain.
And yet, no help came.
Later, on August 7, Dunham used a photo with Bowie to announce her new (and since-deleted) pet-focused Instagram account dubbed @lambyzoo, which feels especially bold coming as it did so soon after Lamby’s surrender and the ensuing controversy. But like Bowie, @lambyzoo was not long for this world. As far as I can tell, the account was deleted sometime in the first half of 2019.
CURRENT STATUS: On August 21, 2018, three months after accepting the 13-year-old dog into her care, Lena announced that Bowie had passed away.
CAUSE OF DEATH ACCORDING TO DUNHAM: While Lena never gave a specific cause of death, the general ailments that come with age do seem the most likely culprits. Lena was speaking of Bowie when she explained, in The Cut’s paraphrase, “when you are a nice person who adopts end-of-life pets, sometimes they die.”
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Along with Dunham’s Instagram announcement of Bowie’s death came a series of photos, taken by photographer iO Tillett Wright, that depicted what appears to be the dog’s pre-euthanization party.
I don’t really have a question here as much as I just desperately need to know exactly what conversations led to this point.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Three months.
Gia Marie and Irma (cats)
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Dunham adopted the cats in December 2017 after breaking up with her longterm boyfriend, Jack Antonoff. Regarding Irma specifically, Allison Davis in her Cut profile writes, “She called her ‘good friend’ Emmy Rossum, who asked what she wanted to do to feel better. Dunham had come across an ad on Craigslist for hairless cats and replied, ‘I want to drive to Brighton Beach and get a cat from this woman’s house.’ So they did.”
Dunham starts squeezing blackheads on Irma the hairless cat’s chin
CURRENT STATUS: Irma is believed to still be living, though the most recent evidence I was able to find is dated March 24, 2019.
Unfortunately, on June 14, 2018, Lena announced that, after being in her care for only nine months, Gia had died “suddenly.”
GIA’S CAUSE OF DEATH ACCORDING TO DUNHAM: This is where things get curious. The day after Dunham first announced Gia’s death on Instagram, she expanded on the circumstances around the death in a second post:
Yesterday I was due at work at 8am. Showed up, watched rehearsal, drank my Starbucks, chill times. But at 8:15 I started to feel sick. Chills, sore throat, rapid descent. So I told Jenni I had to go home. Now. It just felt urgent. I walked in the door and found Gia limp and wheezing. She died in my arms at 9:15 as we rushed to the vet. She called me home. I’m so glad I listened. #giamarieforever
Lena continued to reflect on corporeal impermanence and the enduring spirit in the days that followed.
More importantly, though, Dunham later told The Cut that Gia “had lung damage after surviving a house fire.” Curious about the nature of this supposed fire, I spoke to Allison Davis for clarification on exactly whose house had burned down, and it seems the fire and subsequent lung damage had happened under the care of a previous owner.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: It does seem as if a cat suffering from longterm lung damage severe enough eventually to kill it would have given some hint of its condition in the nine months leading up to its passing. Of course, this would not be the first time confusion has sprung up around the history of one of Dunham’s pets.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Nine months for Gia, three and a half years for Irma.
Lulu, presumed (cat)
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: It’s unclear when exactly Dunham adopted Lulu, as she’s never explicitly talked about the cat. The closest I’ve come to any mention is this line from a 2018 post on MindFood:
I grew up with hairless cats because my mom is allergic. I am not allergic, but I am just obsessed with them. So I have rescued two, one is from a breeder. I have had eight in my life, but now I only have three. Their names are Irma, Candy and Lulu.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Rarely spoken of, none known.
CURRENT STATUS: Though Lena does seem to be less attached to this particular cat than the others, I’d assume there’d be at least some public mourning upon the occasion of a death. In which case, we must presume Lulu to still be alive. Her most recent sighting occurred in November 2019.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Pretty much everything. But we here at Trashberg like to encourage a little mystery wherever we can find it. Solidarity with Lulu.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: 2018-ish to present-ish.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Candy made her first appearance on August 18, 2018, as an apparent replacement for the recently departed Gia.
NOTABLE EVENTS: A month into her new life with Lena, Candy tried to eat a banana.
You have to open it first, idiot.
CURRENT STATUS: Candy is believed to still be living with Lena—or at the very least, with the rest of Lena’s less-preferred pets of the moment, with her last known sighting having occurred relatively recently (for non-Ingrid pets) on April 4, 2020.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Despite being a replacement for Lena’s beloved Gia, Candy doesn’t receive quite the same level of fawning as Gia once did. It’s not entirely clear what Candy did to offend her mistress, but if history’s any judge, the emotional and physical distance should give her a semi-decent chance at a long and relatively happy life.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Three years and counting.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: On January 23, 2019, Lena told the world she had acquired a new rescue dog. She made this announcement on her now-deleted pet-focused Instagram account, @lambyzoo. RIP, @lambyzoo. The Los Angeles–area dog rescue from which Dunham adopted the dog was so excited that they even posted their own announcement, revealing that Ingrid would be living on both coasts with her new owner, “a super rad Girl Boss.”
NOTABLE EVENTS: Ingrid seems to be the only member of Dunham’s menagerie who was allowed the honor of traveling with her to the UK to shoot a new show. Ingrid also ultimately found herself trapped with Dunham as quarantine struck. Exactly who tended to the rest of her animal companions during this time remains unclear.
CURRENT STATUS: Ingrid still walks among us, with her most recent sighting having occurred a mere week ago.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: How long will Ingrid remain the preferred pet? Typically, Dunham’s pets enjoy a couple years in the sun, max. We encourage her to enjoy it while she can.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: Eighteen months and counting.
Margaret and Elizabeth (hedgehogs)
Circumstances of acquisition: Absolutely no idea.
Notable events in Lena’s care: Lena has taken to calling the hedgehogs “Good One” and “Bad One.” In an article for The Strategist she revealed that “Bad One also bites and it’s a bummer.” To Bad One we say: keep raging against the dying of the light, my friend.
Current status: At least as of May 2018, the ’hogs lived in Connecticut “because hedgehogs are actually illegal in New York City.” While Lena’s family does have a home in Connecticut, I prefer to imagine that she dropped them off on the side of a highway and occasionally makes a half-hearted effort to glance along the shoulder when she’s in the area, on the off-chance they turn up for a photo op.
Unresolved questions: Why? You have so many goddamn pets. What is this for?
Time in Dunham’s care: At least a few years, assuming they’re still alive.
Are you fucking kidding me, how is there another one?
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION: Jesus Christ, I thought I was done. I was so relieved. Why did I keep looking.
NOTABLE EVENTS: Please, I really can’t take any more.
CURRENT STATUS: Maybe still perched on Lena’s neck, who can say.
UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS: Where does it live? What is its name? How many more of these poor creatures are hidden in the shadows? There’s not a soul alive who knows any of these answers for sure.
TOTAL TIME IN DUNHAM’S CARE: I refuse to look for any more. I can’t. This is it. Goodbye.