Cupcake, the Instafamous rescue dog, recently rolled into the Rancho Santa Fe Library in her hot pink Swarovski-encrusted, unicorn-horned Mercedes to visit with children during story time. The Rancho Santa Fe-based social media celebrity recently passed one million followers on her @cupcakes_chronicles Instagram page.
While only Instafamous for about a year, for the last six years Cupcake has been a regular feel-good fixture at Studio Felando, the village beauty salon owned by Suzanne Felando Mattson. Mattson rescued Cupcake after finding her on petfinders.com, when she was just a day out from being euthanized at a high-kill shelter.
“She was pretty bad off,” said Mattson of the Shih Tzu whose face was hidden underneath a matted mess of hair. As soon Mattson and her daughter Audrey met Cupcake, they knew there was something special about her and that they wanted to give her a forever home. As a hairdresser, Mattson knew she could clean her up nicely and gave Cupcake a makeover complete with a rainbow-dyed tail.
The spirited little rainbow dog became a service dog for Audrey, and Mattson started sharing her story online on Instagram. More and more, she received messages about how the dog made people happy.
“I created a whole world of Cupcake to help other sad and lonely people in the world,” Mattson said.
Cupcake’s followers became known as “sprinkles” and Mattson developed an origin story—she escaped a dungeon to frolic in the magical, beautiful gardens of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe where a unicorn granted her the rainbow tail and told the special dog she was chosen to find all the sad sprinkles and make them smile.
While riding in a Mercedes named Frosting, Cupcake shares her uplifting message: “See the colors around you, not the colors that bind you.” Each color in Cupcake’s tail has a meaning behind it—pink for positivity, orange for acceptance, blue for trust.
“We go to places where people need to smile,” said Mattson. Cupcake has been to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, rode in Fourth of July and Pride parades and along with the library last week, she also visited Comic-Con. “As she’s trained as a service animal, when she meets people she makes them feel calm and happy, it’s pretty magical. And to see a dog in a car, it’s hysterical.”
At the RSF Library on July 18, Mattson read a book about colors as Cupcake visited with children. She is in the process of writing a children’s book about Cupcake and a cartoon is also in development. A second car is also in the works for this rags-to-riches pup —this one a Bentley named Royal Icing.
“She’s a very, very special dog,” said Mattson. “She was meant to be rescued to make the world a happier place.”