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Loubie 'the hugging dog' and owner homeless after Christmas day fire

Posted at 1:39 AM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 01:39:31-05

NEW YORK (WCBS/CNN) - She’s the dog best known in New York City for making strangers smile on the street with her hugs, which are then posted on social media. But now, Instagram-famous golden retriever Louboutina  and her owner, Cesar Fernandez Chavez, are in need of some love.  

“I’m numb,” Chavez said. “I lost everything.”

Their apartment was destroyed on Christmas when flames ripped through their building in New York’s Chelsea district. They lived next to the unit where the fire began. The only belongings that could be salvaged fit inside a few plastic bags.

Luckily, the dog and her owner were not at home at the time of the fire.

“That’s not usually the time I walk her, but I was like, ‘Hey, girl, let’s go for a walk to CVS,’” Chavez said. “I was just around the corner and, voila, the flames were coming out of the windows.”

Chavez doesn’t know when or even if he and Loubie will ever be able to return to the apartment. In the meantime, he’s getting a lot of help from a friend who has also been going through a terrible time.

Back in the fall, Loni Edwards’ internet-famous pup, Chloe the mini-Frenchie, died in a rare medical accident after a routine procedure at an animal hospital. Still grieving from her own loss, Edwards started a GoFundMe page for Chavez and Loubie to help them get back on their feet.

“She says, ‘Cesar, I want to do this,’” Chavez said of Edwards. “I said, ‘Yes, whatever, because I don’t have anything.’”

So far, they’ve raised more than $53,000 - far more than double their goal.

“It certainly means a lot,” Chavez said. He and his dog will be in a hotel for the next two nights, but he isn’t sure where they will go after that.  

At least he knows lovable Louboutina will be at his side every step of the uncertain way.

“It’s everything I need, actually,” he said of his dog.

Copyright 2017 WCBS via CNN. All rights reserved.