Klondike Founders, Mike, and Pam Dennis met in 1979 in Ketchikan, Alaska, when the Ringling Brother’s – Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town.
Pam (Queen Sheba and her Amazing Bengal Tiger) was performing in the center ring. Mike was picked from the audience to hold the tiger’s leash while Pam (Sheba) put her head in the big cat’s mouth. Normally, this was safe because the tiger (Edith) was a sweet, toothless tiger that Pam had rescued years before. However, Mike is extremely allergic to cats. All cats, as it turned out, and as soon as Pam had her head in Edith’s mouth, he had a terrible sneezing fit which frightened poor Edith, causing her to involuntarily snap her mouth shut on Pam’s head.
This scared the audience, and they began screaming, which scared the Elephant-Chimpanzee act in the side ring, causing 7 elephants to break out of the tent and stampede through downtown Ketchikan with seven freaked-out chimpanzees riding them, resulting in Ketchikan’s first-ever traffic jam. It was horrible.
Meanwhile, Mike, a quick-thinking and brave Poodle Breeder, convinced Edith (between sneezes) to open her mouth and release Pam, and he rushed her (Pam, not Edith) to the hospital, which thankfully was in the opposite direction of the traffic jam.
Luckily, Pam was not seriously injured. She had a few bruises, was a little delirious from lack of oxygen, and her beautiful bouffant hairdo was ruined. A few days later, Mike presented Pam with his most prized poodle and declared he could not live without her (Pam, not the poodle), and soon they married. Since Pam was under contract with the circus, Mike joined and became a star attraction. “Magnificent Mike and his Amazing Poodles.”
Several years later while performing in Bakersfield, they took a drive to the coast and discovered Arroyo Grande. They were tired of traveling and thought this would be a great place to live, but what are you going to do on the Central Coast when you’re a Tiger Tamer and a Poodle Trainer? As it turns out, Mike’s Eskimo-Italian mother had taught him to make whale blubber pizza as a child, and he often bragged about how great it was. So, in 1988 they opened the first Klondike Pizza, and in 1996, the second one opened in Santa Maria.
Edith lived to a very old age in the Dennis’ backyard (with house privileges) and peacefully passed away in her sleep in 2009.
Mike still trains poodles and often performs for birthday parties and charity events.
Should I pack that igloo for you?
Kidding, kidding…Click here for the True Story (wink, wink)