Sisters Artye and Patricia Avellar giggle as they wrap their arms around Starsky and Hutch. Tails are wagging and tongues are flying from the chocolate Labrador retriever brothers.

“We told them no French kissing,” Patricia said gleefully.

The human sisters and dog brothers have made a happy new life together out of tragedy.

The brothers were abandoned last year in their old age. They were in poor health — filthy coats, infections, rotten teeth, and collars digging into their skin — when a volunteer from Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno, Calif., rescued them from a shelter, where they likely would have been euthanized.

“The story was, their owner had died, and no one else in the family wanted to take them in,” said their foster mother, Tricia Blattler, a lab rescue volunteer. “They didn’t even have names on the intake records.”

The lab rescue group decided on Starsky and Hutch, then spent several months rehabilitating them before offering them up for adoption. Among the procedures, costing more than $2,000 in all, was removing a four-pound tumor from Starsky’s left side.

In January, their availability was announced on the nonprofit’s Facebook page. It included photos of their sad but cute dog faces, along with a charming story about how their TV action-hero days are behind them, “but we still have spunk and like to let off a good bark now and then when the door bell rings!”

It got lots of likes, shares and comments, but no offers for adoption. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the rescue group shared another Starsky and Hutch post — then another, and another. More than a dozen. Each post praised their gentle, loving personalities. The dogs’ stardom grew, but still, no one wanted them.

Then, nine months after the dogs were put into foster care, Artye and Patricia arrived. They were the third pair to inquire about the dogs, but the only true match.

“To me it was like, ‘Oh! Two brothers, two sisters!’ ” Patricia said. “I felt that’s sort of like a message from God — we have to take ‘em.”

The sisters previously lost dogs to old age and, in February, they lost their mother. It was especially hard for Artye to imagine losing any more loved ones, but Patricia was persistent.

“I had to convince her that we’re going to give these guys a good home until they have to hit the rainbow bridge,” Patricia said. “I said, ‘Hey, we said goodbye to my mother and held her hand. Why can’t we hold their paws, the same way?’ ”

The sisters say the dogs chose them. Hutch, the more active of the two, gravitated to Patricia. Starsky, the more mellow, to Artye.

The sisters love having older dogs. Starsky and Hutch are trained, well-behaved, lovers of cats and all people — and only require walks, not jogs, Patricia added. Hutch sleeps in Patricia’s bed, and Starsky sleeps with Artye.

The sisters say the dogs also improved their relationship with each other. Artye, the longtime caregiver for their mother, moved in with Patricia, who retired from the IRS, after their mom died.

The dogs also made them happier.

“These dogs have given me hope. I’m taking an Italian class now!” Patricia said.

It’s believed the dogs are more than 10 years old. Since they were adopted, Starsky has been to the veterinarian’s office a handful of times. He stopped eating for a short time, and is taking several medications to help.

Blattler calls the sisters “guardian angels.” They just “wanted to give these bonded, loving brothers a place to live out whatever time they have left.”

The sisters hope more people consider adopting a senior rescued pet. “These dogs, I’ve only had them four weeks,” Patricia said, “and they’ve already taken part of my heart.”