CHELSEA — Getting a hug from a stranger is usually an uncomfortable situation, but when it's coming from a gorgeous 5-year-old golden retriever, how could anyone resist?
When the weather is cooperative, you can find Louboutina – named after the French fashion designer Christian Louboutin – with her owner Cesar Fernandez-Chavez, greeting passersby on the corner of West 19th Street and Seventh Avenue in Chelsea.
Usually on her hind legs, Louboutina, who also goes by “Loubie,” waits to embrace anyone looking for a little love.
What started out with her learning how to “give paw” two years ago, has now morphed into a hugging phenomenon.
“On every single walk, about two blocks or three blocks, she will either want to hold hands or hug me,” Fernandez said. “Then after six, five months then she started hugging other people."
Loubie has become a huge attraction in the neighborhood and her hugs have made her a star on Instagram.
The small but significant service she provides, according to Fernandez, has become much needed amid the tense political climate.
“We hear a lot when they say ‘you made my day,’ ‘its been a hard day’ ‘with everything that is happening, it’s good to see this,’” he said. “So you know making other people happy makes me happy.”
Fernandez, who works as a supervisor for the interpreting program at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, is trying his best to juggle Loubie’s apparent fame.
“I guess no one is prepared for when something like this happens,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep it very low key and organic.”
And as far as who she wouldn’t hug, her owner says she’s pretty much equal opportunity.
If you want a big ol’ hug from Loubie, follow her on Instagram, account name @louboutinanyc, to find out where she’s going to pop up next.