On the day that Elizabeth Spence brought her third-born child, Archie, home from the hospital, she immediately noticed something unusual — not with her newborn, but with one of the family’s rescue dogs, an English pointer named Nora.
Caged outside at a puppy mill, with chain burns around her neck and urine stains on her feet, Nora was skittish and easily frightened when Elizabeth, a homemaker, and her husband, Michael Aporius, a newspaper media director, adopted her in 2009 and brought her to their home in Winnipeg, Canada.
“She was sweet, kind and gentle, and we knew we could give her the life she deserved,” Elizabeth, 44, tells PEOPLE. “It took her a while to get over her general skittishness, but with time, love and patience, she became the happiest dog ever, except for her fear of thunderstorms and fireworks.”
Although Nora was always friendly with the family’s two older children, Wellington, now 8, and Loretta, now 5, she formed a special bond with Archie as soon as Elizabeth and Michael brought their new son home two years ago.
“As a baby, Archie rarely cried or caused a fuss — he was very laid back,” says Elizabeth, “and Nora clearly responded to his calm, gentle demeanor, never wanting to leave his side for a moment. She’d even curl up to sleep next to him whenever she had the opportunity.”
When Elizabeth snapped a photo of the two of them sleeping one afternoon and posted it on Instagram, she was surprised by the positive response and decided to post additional pictures.
Now more than 130,000 people follow the pair on social media, along with the adventures of the rest of the family, including three other rescue dogs and two rescue cats.
“Many of our followers are rescue-animal lovers who are inspired and appreciative of our love for our rescue animals and our advocacy,” Elizabeth tells PEOPLE, “while others are simply happy to see moments of love pop up daily in their feeds.”
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“I don’t over-think the photos — I prefer for the process to be organic, with me grabbing my camera, and snapping a photo as a scene unfolds in front of me,” she adds.
Now 2 years old, Archie spends a lot of time in the playroom these days with Nora, who also tags along whenever he eats breakfast, has a bath, goes outside to play or looks at books before bedtime.
“They nap a little less these days, but they’re still inseparable,” Elizabeth tells PEOPLE. “These two are very close, they never disappoint, and I don’t imagine they ever will. Nora is always there, right by Archie’s side, from morning to night.”