Visit the artisan jewelry store, Little Relics, in Midtown on Tuesdays and Thursdays and be prepared for an enthusiastic welcome from Buttercup the bulldog.
“Sometimes she becomes an overzealous greeter,” says Buttercup’s owner and master jeweler Susan Rabinovitz. “She follows people around. She thinks everyone is here to see her.”
The 48-pound English bulldog is more than happy to escort customers around Rabinovitz’s shop filled with handcrafted jewelry and gifts by local artisans.
When that happens, it’s time for Buttercup (aka The Potato) to call it a day. “Sometimes people just need to get in and get out. Then I have to walk her home,” says Rabinovitz, who lives with her husband and two daughters only four blocks from her 24th Street boutique.
But, of course, like a toddler fighting nap time, Buttercup would rather stay. “She knows we are walking home. What would normally take about 8 minutes will take 20,” Rabinovitz says.
The longest walk home took a full 40 minutes—mostly because the 7-year-old pooch would not budge. “She would lay down. That day was fun. People were honking and pointing and laughing.
“I finally said, ‘Do you want some cheese,’” Rabinovitz says with a smile. And that got the pup moving.
Buttercup is one lucky bulldog. She was only 6 months old when Rabinovitz rescued her from an abusive home.
“She was in a really bad situation,” Rabinovitz says. “We spent a lot of time on the floor with her. She would cower. You couldn’t stick your hand out toward her. She was really fearful.”
But Rabinovitz does not like to dwell on Buttercup’s unfortunate past. “She was very traumatized. But she’s really happy now. We worked with her. We live here in Midtown so she’s around a lot of people.
“The most rewarding thing is that we’ve seen her blossom into this amazing dog. She is able to trust again, which makes my heart happy.”
Buttercup also has bonded with Rabinovitz’s husband. “Every morning and every night—I see them silly and ridiculous together. It’s nice to see that she’s healthy and happy. She’s a good girl.”
Rabinovitz grew up with bulldogs and boxers, so she has a special place in her heart for canines with “smooshy faces,” as she puts it. “They’re good family dogs. Both breeds are hilarious. You cannot take yourself too seriously when you have those breeds.”
Short-nosed dogs tend to do one thing especially well—snore. Buttercup, who sleeps on a dog bed next to Rabinovitz’s bed, is no exception. “She snores really loud. I find it soothing. It’s like my white noise.”
At home, Buttercup listens to the Beatles and reggae, which calm her down. She likes to crawl underneath things, including Rabinovitz’s work bench at the jewelry boutique.
Beloved snacks include carrots, broccoli, green beans and asparagus. But apples are her favorite. “She will sit and drool and wait for the apples.”
For hard-boiled eggs, Buttercup will “yell-bark,” says Rabinovitz, describing the sound as “bork bork,” which is how Buttercup’s Instagram account got its name: @bork_bork_buttercup. “It’s very distinct to bulldogs.”
Speaking highly of “bully” rescue groups, Rabinovitz has opened her heart to several homeless boxers and bulldogs over the years. “People need to look at rescue first,” she says. “Just because it’s a rescue dog, doesn’t mean it’s not a good dog. They are the best dogs. They appreciate their new home.
“I am also a big advocate of spaying and neutering.”
Rabinovitz has been creating jewelry professionally for almost 20 years, working with precious metals, rock specimens and gem stones to forge abstract contemporary “wearable art.” She upped her game seven years ago when she graduated from the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, and has logged more than 1,000 hours of training with master jewelers from around the world.
But whether Rabinovitz is creating jewelry at her shop or spending time at home with the family, life would not be the same without “The Potato” by her side.
“She’s my little russet.”
Cathryn Rakich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.