Angels Among Us:  Stories from the Kind Side

Ike's Story

As told by his owners and loving companions; Michael Brennen and Yukari Nishizawa-Brennen

"About 15 years ago, my wife and I visited the Pocatello Animal Shelter to adopt a pet. There was a woman there, who assisted us in selecting a deserving dog. I really wish I could remember her name; I'm not sure if she was an employee or a volunteer. 

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He didn't make a very good first impression; as I recall he had to be (literally) dragged out of his kennel and taken outside to interact with us. He mournfully looked at the door wanting to go back inside the entire time. We really weren't sure that he was capable of bonding with us, but the worker felt that given the proper home environment and nurturing, he would become a wonderful addition to our family. 

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At any rate, she went out of our way to find us a dog who she felt would be a good match for us. Ike was one who had been adopted out previously, and been returned to the shelter because of some incompatibility with the household(s). 

Because of her advocacy for him, we did take him home and he eventually warmed up to us and was a remarkable friend and companion for 8 years before he passed. We miss him to this very day." 

If your goodbye was even a tiny bit as hard as ours, you deserve an update on how his life turned out.

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The Idaho Prison Cat

Not all the prisoners behind bars at the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho were hardened convicts.  One of the most popular inmates was a long-haired mostly black tomcat named Dennis.  As the story goes on Memorial Day in 1952 an inmate found a small kitten in the industrial part of the prison yard by the chicken houses.  The inmate smuggled the kitten into the main yard where he was fed scraps by the inmates, who named him Dennis.  

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     They were able to keep the cat’s presence secret…for a while.  The guards eventually found out but looked the other way.  

     While not the first cat at the penitentiary (other cats had been used for rodent control), Dennis was considered more of a pet, popular with both the prisoners and the guards.  Dennis was given the run of the place. He had a bed on the barbershop counter and guards opened and closed doors for his convenience.  Dennis seemed especially attached to those sentenced to prison for life; they returned his affection.

     Dennis remained at the prison until his death May 30, 1968 at the age of 16.   When he peacefully passed the grieving inmates sought permission to conduct a funeral service for him.  The warden granted their request. The inmates made Dennis’ headstone - a simple rectangular slab with a cross in the center.  They engraved it themselves in the prison hobby shop.

     Dennis bears the distinction of having the only grave located within the main prison grounds.  Today visitors to his simple grave often leave coins in respect.  The prison still honors Dennis on his birthday, May 30th, with Dennis the Cat Day.