Column: Give a big dog a chance when it comes to adopting a second pup


Toby and Penny may have a few obvious differences, but they both really enjoy lounging together. (Photo courtesy of @tobiasandpenelope on Instagram)

Oscar and Felix, peanut butter and bananas, Tobias and Penelope… what’s that? You’ve never heard of Tobias and Penelope? These two rescue pups are the latest “odd couple” taking the world —  or at least our world at Pasadena Humane — by storm.

At first glance, Tobias and Penelope (or Toby and Penny for short) couldn’t be more different. At nearly 90-pounds, Toby dwarfs his Pekingese-mix sister. But they have many delightful similarities, such as their silky fur and floppy ears.

I had a similar odd couple in my childhood: Moses, the husky German shepherd mix, and Missy, the pekingese. My odd couple were a similar shade of brown, and they shared an adoration for my parents, Kitty and Jimmie.

Missy was the first to join our household, which at that time included my parents, my sister Laura and me. Our three older sisters had already left the nest.

Kay, our eldest sister, rescued Moses from the bulrushes near New Orleans (thus his name). When she found she wasn’t able to properly care for a pet at that time in her life, Moses moved to Georgia to live with us.

I loved growing up with both a small lap dog and a large, loving old soul. They got along just fine with each other and liked nothing more than running on the beach together during our vacations in Florida.

When Pasadena Humane adopters Chelsea and Tim began searching for a second dog to add to their family, they didn’t limit themselves to smaller pups closer in size to their dog Penelope — in fact, they were specifically looking for a bigger dog.

“We had always leaned toward smaller rescue dogs due to apartment living,” Chelsea explained. “However, our recent move to a house with a yard and the completion of three years of major renovations prompted us to consider adding a larger furry family member.”

After spotting Tobias on our website and social media, they knew they had found the perfect dog for them.

During his stay at Pasadena Humane, Toby charmed our staff and volunteers with his wagging tail, “puppy dog” eyes, and loving personality. He walked well on a loose leash and even knew many commands.

It’s hard to believe a dog with so many positive traits spent nearly a month at the shelter, but Toby’s story is no outlier — larger dogs tend to have longer shelter stays than their smaller counterparts.

Many adopters write off a gentle giant like Toby before they even get to know him.

Toby and Penny, now good friends (they even share an Instagram page), have personalities as different as their statures.

“I often joke that our two dogs represent the two sides of my personality,” Chelsea remarked. “Penelope embodies my introverted side, relishing the creature comforts of home, while Tobias is the extrovert, eager to socialize with people and dogs, explore new places on walks, and even surprise us by jumping into strangers’ cars.”

Mixing things up with pets can be a perfect match for both you and your pets.

“We joke that with both a small and large dog, we’ve struck the perfect balance, and they even walk at the same pace, which has been the greatest blessing of all.”

Penny and Toby (and Moses and Missy) are living proof of the phrase opposites attract.

If you’re looking to add a second dog to your family, keep your mind open to a different color, size, or breed than what you’re used to. You just might end up with your very own odd couple.

From Oct. 19 through Oct. 31, you can adopt a large dog (31-pounds and up) for $10 during our “Adopt a Boo” promotion. Visit to view our adoptable animals.


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on October 19, 2023.