The owner of celebrity canine Louboutina tells Moneyish about the fire that cost them everything
Christmas Day was supposed to be a quiet Monday at home for Cesar Fernandez-Chavez and his golden retriever Louboutina, the “hugging dog.” Instead, they lost everything.
On December 25, a blaze broke out in a residential building in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood that quickly consumed at least two apartments. One of them was home to Fernandez-Chavez and his dog Louboutina, also known as Loubie, who has more than 190,000 followers on Instagram.
Six-year-old Louboutina rose to fame in 2017 when her hugs — the warm embraces she dishes out to passersby on New York City’s streets — went viral on social media. Since then, she’s appeared in advertising campaigns for the likes of Google and Scotch Brite lint rollers, and on “Good Morning America” and the “Rachael Ray Show.”
Fernandez-Chavez, who was born in Peru, tells Moneyish that it was a “Christmas miracle” that he and his dog were unscathed. The two were out on an unplanned afternoon walk but found their home in flames when they returned.
“Everything is gone,” he said. “My living room, my kitchen, the ceiling was down, the walls in the living room and kitchen that separate my apartment where the fire started…” He estimates that he has lost between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of possessions, from furniture to clothes to technology and other personal items.
The 46-year-old executive at Mount Sinai Beth Israel teaching hospital, said that if he hadn’t spontaneously taken Loubie out a few minutes before, “she would be dead.”
Since the fire, Loubie’s fanbase has been donating to a GoFundMe campaign created by the dog’s agent, Loni Edwards. Edwards, founder of The Dog Agency, represents the world’s most famous canines.
The agent had hoped to raise $20,000 to help Ferndanez-Chavez and Loubie get back on their feet. Just over a day later, collections had already surpassed $57,000. On Instagram, a video Fernandez-Chavez posted about the incident has garnered over 70,000 views.
Cesar “is an incredible person; he has the biggest heart,” Edwards told Moneyish. He “and Loubie in general — they live to spread happiness and joy.”
While both Fernandez-Chavez and Edwards declined to share how much Louboutina has earned from her fame, Edwards previously told Moneyish that clients with millions of followers can easily make over $100,000 a year.
For now, Fernandez-Chavez told Moneyish that he and his canine sidekick are doing their best to process the events.
“I have to take one day at a time,” he shared. “What I’m wearing is all I have. I don’t have any clothes to go to work. I’m homeless.”
But, he said, he’s grateful that he and his dog are alive. “Maybe this time we had a guardian angel walking us out of the building.”
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