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How dozens of dogs helped a Victoria man overcome adversity and bring a community together

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VICTORIA -

If you had asked young Danny Lamb how things would be when he grew up, the 58-year-old would never have guessed he would be sitting in a wheelchair and calling an assisted living building home.

“I got up off the chesterfield and hit the floor,” Danny says, recalling the morning his life changed. “I thought I was dying.”

Danny suffered the first of three strokes that hospitalized him for months, leaving his motor skills compromised and his brain damaged.

“Life was taken away from me,” Danny frowns.

After 35 years of working as a contractor, and priding himself on being self-reliant, Danny was suddenly depending on others for everything. So he did nothing.

“I battled my mentality,” Danny says. “Big time depression.”

Danny says he would spend all day and night sitting alone in his chair, for more than a year.

Until that one day he ventured outside, was greeted by a passing dog, and experienced a spark of positive possibility.

“Meeting a few people and a few dogs, I says, ‘Life can be better than what I’ve been living,’” Danny smiles.

It inspired him to begin a daily routine outside his assisted living building, greeting every dog who passed by during the morning.

“Our dog now insists on coming down the street,” Bruce Kenyon says as his sheltie named Keely wags her tail and devours the treat Danny gave her.

“Danny is always the highlight of their walk,” Warren Silver smiles as his French bulldogs, Buddah and Karma, sit patiently waiting for Danny to offer them treats.

While the dogs may be motivated by receiving Danny’s snacks, they are unabashed in showing him their gratitude. With tails wagging, they jump onto his wheelchair and offer appreciative licks to his face.

“It instills a sense of worth,” Danny says. “Giving back to the community.”

The affection fuelled Danny to recently post a sign along the sidewalk, inviting the dozens of disparate dogs and their owners to come together for the first time and celebrate his birthday.

And they all did.

“It’s kind of a community bonding,” Bruce says of meeting the neighbours he wouldn’t have connected with without Danny.

“Everybody knows Danny,” Warren smiles. “He just makes it a happier place.”

While one woman recited a birthday poem praising Danny for making her days brighter, they all posed for a group photo with their dogs and Danny.

Danny turned the picture into a poster that he’s hung in his room to remind him to never give up on pursing positivity.

“Life is what you make it. Make it as good as you can,” Danny smiles. “Give back a little. Create a little cheer.”

And you just might find that although life has unfolded differently than you planned — it’s ended up feeling even better than you could have imagined.

“(Now) I’m living in a sense of bliss,” Danny says, before erupting into uncontrollable laughter after a large dog wraps its arms around him and licks his face.

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