Alice is a black Labrador retriever mix. Nell is a yellow Lab. They both came from rescue organizations, Alice from Black Dogs & Company Rescue, and Nell from Brookline Labrador Retriever Rescue, where Julie and I are volunteers.
Alice is more of a true rescue dog. She came from a shelter in Georgia originally, was living on the streets in who-knows-what conditions, and had puppies along the way (who were also rescued). When we first got her in the fall at about 18 months of age, she had some adjustments to make — in particular, she didn’t like all of the noises in and around our townhouse, so she mostly stayed in the bedroom.
But since we’ve settled in a house and she’s gotten more comfortable, we’ve seen Alice’s personality emerge. She’s gentle, playful, and a perfectly approachable size (mid-50 pound range). She has never really been a dog who cowers at thunder and lightning and things like that, as some dogs who have had trauma in their lives sometimes do, but she is still weirded out by a few odd noises, such as air conditioners and ceiling fans and garbage trucks (and she does not like kitchens or dining rooms or bathrooms). Instead of hiding and shivering in fear, she tends to pause and crouch, like she’s trying to figure out what she’s dealing with. She’s very smart, and we’re grateful that she’s trusting us more. We’ve also been happy to note how easily she has charmed our friends and family members who have met her, just as she’s charmed us.
And then there’s Nell. She was the puppy of a pair of dogs who ended up rescued by Brookline, so she was raised by a caring, knowledgable volunteer until she reached the eight-week mark. Then we got her, and it’s been the four of us ever since.
Nell is extremely well-behaved. Julie can take a lot of credit for that (she’s the real dog person and expert in our family), but Nell is also very good-natured and wants to please. She’s high-energy as Labs almost always are, and is full of fun. She’s also getting awfully big — probably nearing the 80-pound mark, with more growing likely in her future. That means she doesn’t always know her own strength. Her hugs can turn into inadvertent full-body assaults (complete with bruises and the occasional scratch) if she gets her paws on you.
Maybe the best thing about adopting these two dogs has been their relationship with each other. Nell absolutely adores Alice. Nell has grown quickly from a tiny puppy trying to keep up with Alice on our walks into a big Lab who is quite a bit burlier than her older sibling. Fortunately, Alice not only tolerates Nell’s intrusions on her space, she is not afraid to mix it up when Nell wants to play rough. They also enjoy walking together, and are good enough on leashes that one of us can walk them both.
Julie and I think that Nell is a positive influence on Alice’s mood, too. Alice sees Nell’s complete contentment and utter trust in us, and she thinks that maybe Nell’s onto something. We’re glad they enjoy chilling with each other, and that they’re getting a kick out of being a part of our little family.