Lambeau the Dog changing the life of a Packers fan

In the nine months that Nora Guerin has had her mobility dog, the impact on her life has been profound.

"What he does for me every day here is absolutely wonderful," said Guerin, who lives in Coon Rapids. "But the biggest piece, I think, is the hope and the knowledge that we’re together and we got a team."

Lambeau is a 4-year-old black lab who opens doors and drawers, turns lights on and off, and even helps Guerin load the laundry, picking clothes out of the basket one piece at a time.

Guerin was diagnosed with MS nearly 20 years ago, but in recent years it’s progressed a bit more, which led her to apply for a dog through Can Do Canines, a Twin Cities nonprofit.

It figures that Guerin, with a Green Bay Packers tattoo on her ankle and partial season tickets to Lambeau, would have a dog named after her favorite stadium.

But she didn’t pick the name. And that is the serendipity of this story.

"That’s what I keep saying, if it was named Bud Grant, I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know what I would have done!"

Can Do Canines specially trains dogs to assist with five different disabilities. The process takes several years. It costs around $40,000 to train each dog, and they place 40 to 50 dogs a year.

"These dogs change lives in such a basic and fundamental way," said Jeff Johnson, Executive Director of Can Do Canines. "It’s pretty cool."

But as part of their fundraising, for $3,000, you can name a puppy.

And five years ago, that’s exactly what a Green Bay Packers podcaster and YouTuber named Tom Grossi decided to do.

Inspired, perhaps irritated, that the Vikings breaking Aaron Rodgers collarbone was named a top ten Minnesota sports moment, he figured naming a dog that would likely land in a Minnesota home after Lambeau Stadium was both a "gotcha" and a charitable act rolled into one, which he calls "chaotic good."

By the time a dog is ready to be placed, the name is not changeable.

"I think this was meant to be," said Johnson. "You can’t really explain it, because it was not intentional, this match, and it just worked out great!"

When Can Do Canines called Guerin last year, they had no idea this Minnesota woman actually bled green and gold.  They were understandably nervous.

"She’s like well, I hope you’re not anti-Packer," said Guerin, recounting the conversation.

"I was like, what? I was expecting a name like Buster or something like that.  I was like, no, I’m a huge Packer fan, and she’s like oh, good because somebody paid a lot of money to name him Lambeau. And I was like… what!"

Can Do Canines couldn’t have been more relieved. And the podcaster, Grossi, is actually thrilled about how it turned out, bringing Guerin on a recent show to relate how Lambeau leapt into the perfect place.

Guerin hopes to train Lambeau to help her flip a coin, with the dream of one day taking Lambeau to his namesake field and doing the pre-game toss for real.

Lambeau is keen to learn new skills, which is why this partnership is so perfect. There’s an enormous sense of well-being that as she needs more help, he’ll be there to give it.

"That’s been one of the biggest changes is the hopefulness that he’s brought me, knowing that we’re going to change together and grow together," said Guerin.