Instagram-celebrity dog celebrates birthday with fundraiser

Shih Tzus, pugs, pigs and other small dogs gathered June 23 to celebrate Instagram celebrity Sparkles the Diva’s birthday at an event designed to raise funds for a good cause.

Sparkles, known as Atlanta’s most well-followed and fashionable dog on Instagram, hosted her “PINKtastic Birthday PIGnic FUNdraiser” at Mister Migs in Tucker in honor of her eighth birthday. The party featured a fashion contest, a silent auction and raffles.

Sparkles’ guests of honor were Prissy and Pop, the country’s most famous mini pigs with more than 690,000 followers on Instagram.

Proceeds from the fundraiser benefited Mister Migs’ nonprofit “Your Career Unleashed,” a scholarship-based program that helps young adults with autism and other learning disabilities become independent, productive citizens through gainful and fulfilling employment.

Sparkles has more than 50,000 Instagram followers. Her owner, Diane Murray, said she has been dressing dogs in fashionable clothing for years.

“I had Shih Tzus growing up and loved fashion, so when I got [Sparkles] I started dressing her up,” Murray said. “When she was 3 years old, I started putting her on Instagram. I had no idea it would turn into this. It was fun, it turned into an outlet for her fashion.”

Sparkles has nearly 3,000 Instagram posts of her in doggie clothes from sweaters to keep her warm during the winter months to bathing suits for poolside lounging. Murray said Sparkles has never objected to wearing outfits.

“When we got Sparkles, we took her to the vet and the next trip was to stores and starting her wardrobe,” Murray said. “She’s very laidback, she’s very happy, she’s always been easy going and she never seems to mind anything. She’s not dressed up all the time, but when she is she has always taken to everything.”

Sparkles and her pig friends hang out at her birthday party. Photo by Studio Primetime

One of the stores where Murray and Sparkles shop is Mister Migs, which creates fashionable dog clothes and accessories. However, Mister Migs is more than a dog clothing store. The business, which was founded by Karen Lynn, also focuses on giving back to the community. Lynn made it her mission to provide work experiences through Mister Migs to young adults with autism and other learning disabilities.

“What [Lynn] discovered is that there is a big gap in help, support for young adults that are coming out of high school,” said Mary Justman, vice president of Mister Migs. “Once school is out [for the summer], there is no path and often no plan. What Mister Migs is here for is to help them move on to the next phase of their lives so that they can become productive citizens.”

Mister Migs Vice President Mary Justman speaks at the “PINKtastic Birthday PIGnic FUNdraiser.” Photo by Studio Primetime

Sparkles and Murray have volunteered with Mister Migs for years to raise awareness for their cause. Murray and Sparkles have hosted previous events at Mister Migs to raise funds for their nonprofit “Your Career Unleashed.” Murray said she wanted to do something special for Sparkles’ birthday and raise awareness as well.

“Sparkles’ birthday was coming around, so I googled to see if there were any dog events going on and National Pick Day [was scheduled for June 23],” Murray said. “And I said, ‘That would be fun for her birthday, let’s have it at Mister Migs.’ They have a great indoor space, we love to support them and their cause, and it evolved from there.”

“[Murray] and Sparkles became ambassadors for us,” Justman said. “We need the support. It’s not much funding for what we do. We depend on the community.”


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