Louboutina the dog has a special way of greeting people.
When her owner Cesar Fernandez-Chavez takes her for walks in Manhattan, the two don’t make it very far. The golden retriever, who goes by Loubie for short, stops Fernandez-Chavez and others for hugs.
She stands up on her hind legs and wraps her paws around the person’s knees.
It all started in 2014. Fernandez-Chavez had just ended a long-term relationship and it was Valentine season. The two were taking a walk when Loubie suddenly stopped and started shaking his hand. He noticed she was pressing down on his hand pretty hard, so he began to support her paw and suddenly she was sitting up. She stayed that way for about two minutes.
“She started sitting up and grabbing my hands with both of her paws, and then crossing the other paw over her paw,” he said in an interview with thedodo.com. “I remember joking with my friends, ‘At least I have someone to hold hands with during Valentine’s.”
Shortly after, it became Loubie’s favorite activity. During walks she would stop her owner to raise up on her hind legs and hold his hand. Fernandez-Chavez said she would look around the street very casual, “like a lady.”
“People passing by were like, ‘Oh my god, she’s so cute.’”
After a couple years, Loubie amped up her game. She started giving hugs. Fernandez-Chavez said Loubie would come very close to him, stand up, and wrap herself around his knees.
“I thought, ‘This is weird. What’s going on?’ But I let her do it,” he said.
It’s possible Loubie is mimicking her owner. “I’m a hugger,” Fernandez-Chavez said. “When she was little, I would hug her like a person. I would kneel on the floor and hug her and she would put her paws on my shoulders. So maybe she picked that up.”
Sometimes he has to make sure he’s well-balanced because Loubie gets a good grip on him.
The community noticed and before long, she became a social media star. People stop the two in their Chelsea neighborhood to say hello, or they take pictures of Loubie.
“Sometimes she’s hugging me and I can hear the camera from behind and there are a lot of people taking pictures,” he said.
Fernandez-Chavez has had Loubie for about five years now, since she was 3 months old. He received her as a gift from a friend who loved the Christian Louboutin red-soled shoes. That’s where she got her name. Fernandez-Chavez, originally from Lima, Peru, manages language and interpretive services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital.
Loubie sure loves hugging people, and Fernandez-Chavez loves that she can make someone’s day. He’s even had her trained to be a therapy dog.
“It’s nice to see people walk away with a smile,” he said. “Especially with everything that is happening now, people say it’s so good to see this on the street. She brings them joy. It’s very rewarding.”
Plus, he’s got big plans for Loubie: “I hope one day we hear from Ellen DeGeneres,” he said. “That’s my dream!”