As Danny Shelton and his wife Mara prepared to move from Ohio to Massachusetts, they had all the stressors of a cross country move … and then some.
They loaded up their car with the essentials, but kept room for their co-pilots -- their quartet of dogs, The Furry Sheltons.
Their personalities are distinct. Moni is the sweeter-than-sugar pit bull. Juicy, named for the Juicy Couture store where Danny and Mara first met, is their high-end diva husky. Mojo is the family protector, and Juju, the French bulldog, is the goofball. He has the Halloween costume to prove it.
Patriots fans and pet lovers alike can follow the Shelton clan on Instagram, an account run by Mara. It’s filled with hilarious and adorable pictures of the dogs dressed in formal wear, wreaking havoc and snuggled up sweetly with each other and their humans.
One scroll through this pet page, it is clear that the bond between Danny, Mara and the four dogs is something special.
Dog fatherhood started with Moni. Danny adopted her his sophomore year at University of Washington. She would come to classes with Danny, sleeping quietly at his feet as he took notes, but his professor and his fellow classmates didn’t mind.
"The whole school knew who she was. I took her around the football team as well," Danny said. "The coaches knew about her. She was my first experience in maturing in college."
While Moni taught Danny valuable lessons in responsibility, she also provided emotional support.
When Danny was a senior in high school, his brother Shennon was killed during an altercation. The grief and pain weighed on Danny well into his time at University of Washington. Now, all four dogs are registered emotional support animals, but it all started with Moni.
“That was just in college, with her being a pit bull and me going through what I went through with my brother passing. It was just perfect. We bonded perfectly,” Danny said. “My wife, my girlfriend at the time, she saw the effects, how much better I was, how much happier.”
It didn't take long for Danny and Mara to add Juicy into the mix so Moni could have a companion. Danny's first year in the league, they added Mojo, and Juju came into the picture when Danny proposed in 2016.
Mara wanted to adopt a smaller dog, so while he was training in California, Danny got Juju, dog tuxedos and a ring.
"We went to the airport and surprised Mara when she got out at baggage claim," Danny said with a smile.
And of course, when the big day came in February, the Furry Sheltons played a big role. The pack dressed up for the occasion and watched their humans walk down the aisle.
Whether it's a trip to the park or major milestones, Moni, Juicy, Mojo and Juju are there, and they mean more to Danny and Mara than "just pets." They're family.
"I view my dogs as my kids. It’s a way for me and my wife to prepare ourselves for parenthood. I feel our dogs have done more than that," Danny said. "We’ve had our rough times and we’ve had our happy times, but for me personally it’s more emotional. Just being able to come home and see them smiling, seeing them wanting to play gives me a break from the real world and work. I love having them and using them as that emotional tool."
No matter if Moni, Juicy, Mojo and Juju are providing emotional support or simply playing fetch, it is a fun and endearing journey to watch on your timeline. You can follow The Furry Sheltons on Instagram here. You won't regret it.