The Russell family’s dog may be small in stature, but she’s big in spirit — and her infectious personality is inspiring others.
Buttercup, a Pembroke Welsh corgi, is the inspiration behind a line of lifelike pillows, and proceeds from the sales of those pillows are donated to a variety of causes, from hospitals to assisted living to children’s charities across the country.
She, along with her human family, will be making a guest appearance at Wagamuffins dog boutique at 152 N. Main St., Mooresville, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. And the pillows bearing Buttercup’s image, as well as key chains and stickers, will be available for purchase.
Buttercup isn’t the average corgi. She and her siblings, Reecie and Peanut, became Internet sensations after their mom, Laura Russell decided to create Instagram and Facebook accounts for the trio. She called it @threecrazycorgis and posted the antics of the dogs every day. Within 18 months, the dogs’ Instagram was reaching more than 10,000 followers.
Less than a week after reaching that milestone, 3-year-old Buttercup woke up and was unable to move her legs. An emergency veterinarian diagnosed a ruptured disc and the dog was rushed to surgery. She was given a 50 percent chance of regaining the ability to walk, Russell said.
She started physical therapy treatments, which included motion exercises, a water treadmill, acupuncture and laser therapy.
Like she had with the trio of dogs, Russell shared Buttercup’s recovery on social media. She found Buttercup’s story did more than entertain dog lovers. She said they received messages about how Buttercup’s spirit and happy demeanor inspired them in dealing with their own difficulties.
A few months later, Russell said, strange sounds from Buttercup’s hips were noticed during the physical therapy sessions. The diagnosis — hip dysplasia, a common condition in which the hip joint’s ball and socket do not fit or develop properly, causing grinding and rubbing instead of sliding smoothly. Although more common in larger breeds, the disease does affect some smaller dogs, like Buttercup.
The hip dysplasia was a likely factor in the ruptured disc, Russell said.
Buttercup’s chances of walking again were nil.
Russell said she and her husband, Stephen, were dealing with the devastating news and decided dinner and a movie might lift their spirits. At the theater, Russell said, she struck up a conversation with a theater worker who was in a wheelchair. They wanted to take this heartbreak and turn it into something to offer hope and train Buttercup to become a therapy dog.
The young woman gave them the answer they were looking for, telling them that she spent a lot of time in hospitals as a child. A dog like Buttercup, she said, would have meant a lot to her.
Earlier this year, Buttercup, now fitted with a wheelchair, reached that goal, becoming a Therapy Dogs International representative. Russell said she and Buttercup now spend their Mondays visiting an assisted living center.
A friend gave Russell the idea for the next step in Buttercup’s role as a therapy dog. The friend said since Buttercup couldn’t be everywhere at once, a pillow with her photo could bring joy to hospitals and other charities.
Russell said the family partnered with Illinois-based Lifelike Pillows to develop the cuddly, American-made pillow featuring a picture of Buttercup in her special wheelchair on the front and an inspirational saying on the back.
Megan Meiran, owner of Wagamuffins, stocks the pillows and said she is thrilled to have Buttercup visit to allow others to hear her story and support the efforts to give pillows to charity.