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Last night I woke up to find my cat Zorro hogging the bed next to me...and not just lying on the bed, he was under the covers! As I went to move him so that I could roll over, I whispered, "Sorry, Zorro, but you have to move." "But I'm comfortable!" replied a sleepy voice. It startled me so much that I almost fell off the bed!

"Zorro?!" I asked, sure my parents had dropped me one too many times as a child.

Zorro planted himself in his spot on my bed and declared, "You always seem so determined to prevent me from living my life to its fullest."

"Oh, really?" I replied.

"Yes, really," continued Zorro. "Whenever I find a sunny place to nap, you always move me."

"Well, I wouldn't have to if that sunny place wasn't on top of the jeans that I need to wear."

Zorro continued to talk. "Whenever I find a mouse to play with, you always take it away from me before I'm done with it."

"And I have good reason to do so! If I want to have presents left in my shoes, I'll let you know, but until then I'm not going to allow you to play with them in the house!"

"And whenever I see something fun to play with in the dark, you scream."

"That's because the 'something' is my foot!" I retorted.

"How was I supposed to know that?" defended Zorro. "And don't even get me started on you not constantly rubbing my tummy!"

Slightly frustrated yet still amused, I replied, "You're not the boss around here!"

"Now, wait a second. Let's think about this for a minute," he suggested. "You pick up my poop, you feed me when I'm hungry, you take care of me when I'm sick, and shower me with attention. Explain to me again, please, how I'm not in charge of you."

"Oh..." What else could I say? He had an excellent point. I mean, I do cater to every one of his kitty needs, and if I don't, I always feel guilty. Like, if I go on vacation, I always feel a twinge of guilt upon returning because he looks at me as though I've abandoned him.

In an attempt to create peace, I told Zorro, "I agree to let you sleep on my bed as long as you don't sleep on my face anymore or hog the bed."

"Agreed," said Zorro. "Can I have my catnip back now? I promise not to act spazzy and race around the house in the ungodly hours of the morning like I did last night."

"Sorry, I value my sleep too much to allow that to happen again! But I will guarantee a daily pat on the head and food."

"Fair enough. Good night." -- Emma Seemann, Carlsbad H.S.

I'm the only person who has heard the sweet voice of a female ladybug. The creature landed on my index finger this afternoon and I adored her for her petite size and lovely look. As I stared, I heard her sing a tune that's never reached my ears before. I thought to myself, Hmmm...she must be able to talk if she can sing such a song. I asked her, "How are you so small and still alive in this dangerous world?" The singing stopped and she flew to my shoulder, next to my ear. "For many years my kind flew about in a timid way, afraid of the viciousness this world has to offer. We feared everything -- from fierce snakes to a tiny flea, and large elephants to the stinging bee."

"I understand how these things must be scary to you and your kind, but, again, how do you flee from these things? This I still do not see."

"Well, eventually it came to pass that fear was the only thing to blame. The harmful creatures of the world sense insecurity in anything that lives. This gives them the motivation to harm us. However, if we stand strong and live with dignity, this intimidates even the largest of animals and keeps them away from us. Our newly attained senses of courage and pride override those feelings of hunger and fierceness normally directed toward our kind."

I pondered that this tiny creature stays alive by something no one can see; it survives because of its pride, strength, and dignity. Then, another thought planted itself in my mind... "Do you know how much joy you provide the smallest of children and the oldest of men when you land on them and allow them to gaze upon your beauty?"

"Why, yes," she respon-ded, "indeed I do. Their smiles and laughs are what keeps our hearts beating, our wings pulsing. Without the true beauty of the world -- the joy of others -- our beauty would never be able to shine through. And I want to give you a message to inform mankind: it is simply 'Thank you.' Without you, my kind would never have attained our positive state of mind." And with that, she beat her wings as gracefully as ever and flew off into the distance, leaving the world with more light and happiness than the human eye could ever see. -- Lexie Sebring, Carlsbad H.S.

I think every "animal person" has at one time or another wished they could find out what their pet was thinking. I often find myself questioning my dog's strange behavior and wish that we could somehow communicate. Therefore, if I had the option to talk to any animal on earth I wouldn't look past my own home; I would want to talk to my golden retriever, Sandy. One question I would immediately ask would be, "Why do you find it necessary to steal every sock and shoe from my room and put them where I'd never think to look?"

Sandy's response would probably be simple. Something along the lines of, "I get bored at night when everyone's asleep. I sleep all day and have nothing to do at night, so I keep myself busy and hope that in the morning this will help get me more attention."

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