Desmond and Molly were two of more than 400 animals (including 100-plus cats) rescued in July 2009 from The Animal Haven in Maili, on Oahu’s Leeward coast. It was the biggest animal rescue in Hawai‘i history, and not all of the animals were in great shape.

All were taken to a temporary shelter in a huge warehouse where they were triaged, got veterinary care, were cleaned up, and many were offered for adoption. It was crowded, hot, and noisy. But there they were safe, were well-fed and much loved, and had a chance at a real home.

I visited several times and sat with the cats. Over time, the faces changed as many were adopted. But two constants were a beat-up old grey tabby, and a seriously shy tiny brown tabby. Jesse Ventura, named after the wrestler and Minnesota governor for his grizzled looks, and Toby, named such for no particular reason other than 400 animals needed names for their intake paperwork.

One afternoon, Toby put on her brave persona and approached me, then climbed up on my lap. Jesse, never shy, wandered over as usual to check things out. He put a paw up on my knee, then clambered up to sit beside Toby.

They both went home with me that afternoon. They got new, aspirational names. Jesse became The Archbishop Desmond Tutu in hopes that his peaceful, compassionate side would emerge. Toby now was Ms. Molly Ivins, after the outspoken liberal Texas columnist, to encourage her to claim her power.

And while they were never best friends, they were content to share space in their new home for the rest of their lives.

(These bad early iPhone photos document their co-existence:)

  • Ms. Molly Ivins, left, and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu on their first night home!