Happy Tail: Two dogs make a flavorful family


The scruffy gray dog was at the South L.A. Animal Shelter when Elissa and Nick Andre saw his listing on Petfinder. They weren’t yet married but wanted to adopt a dog together and had been searching the website and visiting shelters in a 25-mile radius of Los Angeles. “It felt as if every time I’d fall in love with one, it would be adopted right out from under our noses,” Elissa says.

Olive gets a kiss during a family "selfie."

Olive gets a kiss during a family “selfie.”

They weren’t taking any chances when they saw this dog. They waited outside the shelter on the day he was available for adoption to make sure they would be first in line. And they succeeded.

“I’ve never known such a close, instant bond with an animal,” Elissa says. “The first day we had him, he stood up on his hind legs, wrapped his front paws around Nick’s knee and gave him a hug, then ran over to me and did the same thing. He still gives us hugs every day!” It’s no wonder that their friends say he is a human trapped in a dog’s body. They named him Pickles. “A silly name for a silly dog,” Elissa says.

After Nick and Elissa married, she began looking on Petfinder again. Getting a second dog was partly for Pickles. “We hated seeing the sadness in his eyes when we left in the morning for work and knew how much fun he had when he got to play with his dog friends.”

They really had planned to let the wedding dust settle before adopting another dog, but looking online was no way to do that. Just a week after the wedding, “there was Olive, up for adoption through a local rescue group,” Elissa says. “Her picture was exactly what we had imagined our hypothetical second dog to be.” They arranged to bring her home for a night to see how she and Pickles would get along.

Pickles helped make the decision. “Seeing them romp around the yard with a toy and wag their tails at each other that first night just made my heart sing,” Elissa says, “and there was something about her soulful eyes and gentle puppy kisses that we couldn’t deny.” They adopted her the next day.

“I tried to think of some fun black-dog names over the next week and loved the name Olive even before it occurred to me we’d be naming both our pups after condiments.

“Going from one to two dogs is definitely a challenge,” Elissa says, “but I love coming home at the end of a long work day to two wiggly, grinning, healthy puppies. Olive really completed our little family, and Nick and I even met a ton of great new friends through our walks around the neighborhood. ”

She gives some good advice: take the time to find the dog that’s right for your family and realize ahead of time that “you might lose some of your favorite shoes-and maybe even your new throw rug – but don’t let frustration get the best of you.”

Pickles and Olive are just the right “condiments” to flavor Elissa and Nick’s family with love and joy.