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The goldfish started out fine; I fed Bubbles and Pop every day, and they swam happily in their little tank. One day, though, they began growing mold on their scales. I flushed them down the toilet. Yes, just because they had mold on them. But, I was young...and I didn't want sick fish.

The first dog we owned, we gave away, which is admirable for my family. I mean, we prevented a pet's death. The second dog we still have and plan on keeping for a long time. -- Alexis Sebring, Carlsbad H.S.

When I moved to California about five years ago, I was promised a puppy so I could look forward to the move. Somehow, I came home from the animal shelter with a kitten. I still can't remember how that happened. The kitten that I chose came with the name Boris. He is energized, clumsy, cute, and weird all at the same time. When we brought him home, he would follow the older cat around the house and pounce on top of her and annoy her to the point where she had to hide from him. He enjoys watching TV by sitting on top of the television and leaning over in front of it. Another one of our cats, Crystal, was diagnosed with kidney failure when she was young. Consequently, we bought her special food and had to give her fluids via an IV every other day. "You do what?" people would always respond when we told them that we did this.

Another cat, much older than the first, developed a tumor near her mouth. Since it was causing problems, we decided that removing the tumor would be the best option. After the operation, the tumor grew back. We put her to sleep.

My mom has generally been the one who feeds and takes care of the pets. I've always helped out, but it's never a major responsibility of mine. The medical care that we have given our pets may seem odd to other people, but the thought of them suffering or living in pain was enough for us to be sure that we were doing the right thing.

When two of the cats died -- one was put to sleep and the other one disappeared -- I was not as sad as I thought I'd be. I enjoyed their company but was never extremely attached to them. It seems like the world is divided into "cat people" and "dog people." I definitely like having cats around. I can't imagine living without pets -- the house would be too quiet. But I'm still waiting for my dog. -- Naomi Serling-Boyd, Mt. Carmel H.S.

When I was little, we had two cats: Alan Ladd and Magic Johnson. Magic, a light-cream-colored cat with a white belly, was one of a litter of stray cats my mom found, and she gave him to my dad while they were dating. When Magic and then Mom moved in with my dad, Alan was jealous and temperamental. But I remember him as old and sweet with moody bouts. Both cats' deaths were most traumatic for my mother. One morning, she went out to get the newspaper and found Alan's body torn to pieces across the lawn. Alan was a feisty cat that would hiss at approaching dogs. Unfortunately, his bravery cost him his life. Several years later, Magic became temperamental and needy in his old age and would sit in the middle of the street and wait for us when we went out, sometimes darting under cars. We always worried a car would hit him. One morning, my mom was pulling out of the driveway and Magic ran under her wheel.

While Magic was still alive, my sister got an orange kitten from her second-grade teacher. He was a monstrous creature that attacked everything, so we named him Beast. Like Alan and Magic, he was allowed outside. One day, when our family was playing catch with some neighbors in the front yard, a big yellow dog approached. The dog snatched up poor Beast by his hind legs and shook him. Although Beast survived, he was never again allowed outside and has become fat, lazy, and loving. He occasionally tries to escape, but only half-heartedly.

After Magic died, we found Zoe at a pound. She's a little gray monster, who is even sprightlier than Beast was. No one in the house can sleep with the doors open because she will jump on you and bite your nose. She is also a kleptomaniac who regularly steals game pieces, hair ties, pens, and Christmas ornaments and stashes them inside couch cushions. My mischievous friend, Heather, adores Zoe and Zoe's traits remind us so much of Heather that we often call her Heather. I complain about her daily, but she's so little and rebellious that I love her as much as Heather does. -- Megan Zapanta, El Capitan H.S.

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