From Wags to Riches: One Pup's Fashionable Journey to Superstar Status
Rebecca Shelton has adopted six Chihuahuas over the past two decades, but her Chihuahua-miniature pinscher mix, an adorable pup named Presley, has gained significant attention through social media and throughout Florida for her over-the-top outfits.
Then three months old, Shelton adopted Presley in July 2016 from Luv-A-Pet rescue in Palm Beach, Fla. Shelton’s mother had passed away the previous fall, but before her death, had encouraged Shelton to rescue more dogs. It took some time, but Shelton says she was finally ready to rescue another dog when she found the tiny puppy.
“I got online, and there was Presley,” she says. The pup's mother had been found tied to a fence in Georgia before giving birth to her litter of puppies. Presley was the only female in the litter, and Shelton says she was the “cutest puppy ever.”
Since Shelton’s mother had been obsessed with Elvis Presley, she decided to honor her mom by naming her new pup after the King himself. Presley does a wonderful job living up to her namesake, and has even gone on to place as a finalist on American Top Dog Model in a wow-worthy doggy version of Elvis's signature white jumpsuit.
Shelton says she and Presley owe all their fashion-forward success to a Chihuahua named Ivy, whom she rescued in 2001. But it wasn't all couture from the start. Shelton began making outfits for Ivy out of an unlikely (yet affordable!) material: men’s socks. The duo took their creative dog fashion statements to the catwalk, entering numerous fashion competitions in the area. Ivy had quite the winning streak, and when she passed away in 2019, Shelton decided to keep her spirit alive by continuing the tradition with Presley.
The two wasted no time carrying on Ivy's legacy. Shelton says Presley “fully embraced” her star status from the start of her very first competition. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Presley regularly entered (and won!) canine fashion competitions. But she's not just putting on a show for the crowd: Presley wears her signature flamboyant outfits whenever the two go out (including sunglasses on car rides).
Presley the pup even has her own closet, and Shelton counts more than 150 dresses, 40 hats, and 24 necklaces as the dog's very own.
“My third room is really just a dog closet,” Shelton says. But when your pooch looks this cute, who can blame her?
Always one to set the trends, Presley's closet of doggy designer apparel includes outfits for every season, plus an entire section devoted to her favorite holiday attire. There is also a section that's made especially for her 25 “primo” competition-ready outfits.
Presley’s personal designer, Cristina Bruno-Dalola of Posh Pets, makes all of Presley’s extravagant outfits for competitions and holidays. Shelton originally discovered Bruno-Dalola through her work designing children's clothing on Etsy. But thanks to Presley's success as a pet couture model, the designer also now has a successful business crafting dog clothes.
As for our furry fashionista, Shelton says that Presley “will put anything on and pose.” As soon as Shelton takes an item of clothing out of the closet, she says Presley runs right to a chair in the living room and sits—ready to get all dressed up. In fact, she's so attached to her one-of-a-kind outfits that she prefers to be dressed first, before the other dogs in the house. (After adopting Presley, Shelton also adopted a mother-daughter Chihuahua duo named Belladonna and Chi-Chi. If she dresses them first, Presley gets very jealous.)
If you're loving these lewks—and what fashion-forward pet parents wouldn't?—you might want to pick up a second shift before you stock your pup's closet full of couture. Shelton says that dressing Ivy and Presley over the last 20 years has easily cost $10,000. “Am I extravagant?” she asks. “I mean, Presley has a rhinestone collar...of course I am,” she laughs.
Clearly Shelton and Presley have a good thing going, with the two of them having a blast at competitions and on social media at @PresleyKnowsBest. More importantly, Shelton says that the press coverage Presley gets helps her bring awareness to the prevalence of Chihuahuas living in rescues and shelters. “I’ll always rescue Chihuahuas,” she says, “because there are just so many that need help.”
With no children of her own, Shelton considers her pups to be her kids, describing Presley as her soul pup. “I can’t imagine a day without her, but I know all of the good that she’s brought and done so I’ll be forever grateful.”
Shelton is currently prepping for Presley’s annual trip to see Santa for Christmas photos. “People look at me like I’m crazy because I’ll have three different outfits for her and we’ll stand in line three times,” she says.
No matter what she's wearing or how many photos she takes, we'll have our eyes peeled to Presley’s Instagram to see all three fashion statements that make the final cut!