By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco
5:46 PM CDT, October 10, 2013
Manny confidently strutted down the hallway of the Tribune Tower.
When he got to RedEye's offices, he was greeted by a number of staffers rushing up to him, snapping iPhone photos and gushing over him.
If you don't know, Manny is a kind of a big deal.
This 22-pound well-behaved French bulldog named after boxer Manny Pacquiao is even the head of his own Chicago-based company. He sells t-shirts with his face on them.
On this day, he was ready for his photo shoot and modeled costumes he might wear to his #MonsterCute Halloween Paw-ty presented by PetSmart he is hosting on Oct. 26.
With more than 350,000 followers, Manny the Frenchie is an Instagram sensation. He counts "Glee" actress Jenna Ushkowitz and Victoria Secret model Shanina Shaik among his fans who see the adorable things Manny does like swimming in a pool, sporting a bowtie, sitting in the shopping cart seat at PetSmart and of course, napping in the bathroom sink.
Um, about that last part. Manny doesn't sleep in the sink overnight. But he does like to take a nap there. It started when his owners would walk into the bathroom and Manny wanted to be with them. So they put him on the counter and he found the sink to be a perfect fit for him.So how did he blow up into his celebrity status? His owners Jon Huang, 35, and girlfriend Amber Chavez, 31, decided to upload cute photos of him to Instagram instead of emailing and texting people photos.
"He just started picking up followers on his own and companies started taking notice and then companies would give him a shoutout," Huang said. "It was built organically but then everybody just started following and catching on and then wanting to use him, for like, 'Oh can we post him on our Instagram?' or 'Can we post him with one of our t-shirts?' or something like that. It blew up like that."
Companies from apparel to shoes to auto companies to professional sports to food companies want Manny to wear or promote their products. Of course, Manny gets paid in treats (bacon!). His owners get financially compensated too and make donations to the French Bulldog Rescue Network and the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue.
His owners had no idea that Manny, who will turn 3 in February, would become super popular.
Huang and Chavez were looking for a Frenchie, saw a photo of him and drove four hours to a breeder in Ohio. They instantly fell in love with a rambunctious 4-month-old Manny. Because he was the last of his litter to go to a forever home, he was sold at a discounted rate of $900.
And since, they discovered Manny loves the Montrose dog beach, car rides and belly rubs. He hates elevators, being alone and loud appliances like vacuum cleaners and blenders. Manny now lives in the West Loop with Leila, a bulldog boxer mix, and Frank, a blue-eyed Frenchie.
This summer, he's been invited to the Chicagoland Speedway for a NASCAR race and to U.S. Cellular One for the opening of the Sox social media lounge.
"It's one thing to love your dog so much and want to be like, 'Look at him, he's so cute!' just like with someone's kid," Chavez said. "But for someone else to love him just as much, or sometimes even more, I feel like it's just kind of crazy."Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.
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