17

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 3

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) tried to take a petition to a human council meeting, but were barred from entering. ARC wanted the humans to stop using animal names as insults. A guard took the petition and said that he would give it to council.

Two weeks went by before the animals received a letter from W. Charles Smith, President of the Council on Human/Animal Relations:

Dear Animals

We have received your petition listing your concerns about us using your names as insults. We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. I have assigned a committee to look into the matter.

Sincerely

W.C. Smith

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Julie Giraffe: Those rotten rutabagas! They’re just trying to get rid of us.

Roni Baboon: You’re right, Julie. They’re not going to do anything.

Chester Rabbit: I’m afraid you’re right. We’ll have to try something else.

Ralph Badger: Let’s dig under their building and let it collapse.

Benny Buffalo: No, let’s stampede them.

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Simon Skunk: No, we should sabotage their air filtration.

Chester: Calm down, everyone. That’s not going to make anyone happy. We need to work together.

Chrissy Calico: I don’t know what we can do. They don’t respect us at all. Remember what he called us? “Cute.” Humans don’t pay attention to “cute”.

Gregg Bear: OK, let me talk to them. They won’t think I’m cute and cuddly. I’m over 500 pounds of muscle and fur.

Ivan Tiger: I’ll go too. I can growl loud enough to scare any human.

Ralph: I guess that will work. But be polite. Otherwise, they’ll call you animals.

Chrissy: They are animals.

Ralph: I know. But humans use it as an insult.

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Gregg and Ivan walked over to the Council Hall and went in the front door. The receptionist looked up and asked if she could help them.

Ivan: Yes, thank you. We would like to see Mr. Smith, please.

Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?

Ivan: No, we don’t. Please tell him we’re from ARC.

Receptionist (knowing there would be trouble if she let a bear and a tiger into the building): Mr. Smith doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.

Ivan: Please tell him that we won’t take up much of his time.

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Receptionist (beginning to get nervous): I’m sorry, but you’ll have to make an appointment.

Ivan: Please just ask.

Receptionist: All right. Let me check.

She called someone and said that there was a bear and a tiger to see Charles. No, they weren’t threatening. They were very polite. She listened, then hung up the phone.

Receptionist: Someone will be out shortly.

Ivan: Thank you.

Ivan and Gregg moved to the side of the lobby and waited. Before long, two security guards arrived.

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Security Guard: What seems to be the problem?

Ivan: There isn’t a problem. We just want to see Mr. Smith.

Security Guard: Didn’t the lady tell you you’d need an appointment?

Ivan: Yes, she did. We just need a minute of his time.

Guard: He won’t see you. You need to leave.

Ivan: Why won’t he see us?

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The guard didn’t want to tell them that Mr. Smith was afraid of large animals.

Guard: He can see whoever he wants.

Gregg: That’s ridiculous. Just let us past. We’ll find him ourselves.

Guard (nervously): You need to go now.

Ivan was getting irritated. He let out a low growl. Gregg took a step toward the guard.

Gregg: Now see here…

Guard: Leave this minute or I’ll call the police.

Gregg: Let us past you.

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The guard picked up the phone.

Guard: Yes, we need you at the Council Hall. There’s a bear and a tiger here. We need you to get them out of here. They’re meaner than grizzlies.

Gregg: I AM a grizzly.

Guard: I mean they’re madder than wet hens.

Gregg and Ivan looked at each other in disgust and stalked out the door.

Ivan: I guess we’ll have to get a lawyer.

He took out his phone and entered the number.

Voice: Sharkfin and Sharkfin, Attorneys-at-Law. How may I help you?

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8

The Animal Rights Coalition

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Chester Rabbit called the quarterly meeting of the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) to order.

Chester: Welcome everyone. We need to finish one item from our last meeting before we can move on to today’s agenda. We have to finish our discussion about how to address the human use of animal names as insults. The first thing we need to do is reopen the topic.

The animals started to talk among themselves. This item was very important to all of them and they were eager to get back to work.

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Buddy Squirrel: I move to reopen the topic.

Ralph Badger: I second the motion.

Chester: All right. How many in favor?

Paws and hands went up around the room.

Chester: How many opposed?

Dead silence.

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Chester: The motion passed. Ballou, please turn on the recorder.

Ballou Bear, whose mother was a huge movie fan, flipped the switch. It was so much easier to get started now that they could record rather than manually write down the notes. The simians had insisted on the purchase. They were tired of always being the ones to write.

Chester: The best way to start is to identify exactly what we mean by insults. Remember the rules: no talking over others, no arguing with someone’s ideas, and no intimidation. One idea per animal. If you choose to present multiple ideas, wait until after the others have had their turn.

The animals quickly lined up to speak:

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“catty/catfight” – Why is it that when two women say nasty things to each other it’s being catty? We’re not mean. But even worse, if they end up actually hitting each other, it’s a catfight? Everyone knows that most of us don’t fight, and if we do, it’s most likely the males.

“eat like a pig/act like a pig” – Where did we get the reputation that we’re sloppy and eat too much? We’re actually clean animals; we use the mud to cool off. And we don’t eat that much compared to what we weight. We’re this big because of the way we’re made, not because we eat too much.

“dog-faced/dog” – Why are we the standard for ugly? We’re just like every other species. Some of us are good looking, some not so much. But to classify all of us as ugly is just mean.

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“eat like a bird” – They say it like it’s some kind of eating disorder. We eat like we do because we have beaks. We can’t pick up a lot of food at one time. We eat all through the day; we need energy for flying.

“ugly duckling” – This insult is just rude. Why would you call someone’s child ugly? We know it’s because the baby swan didn’t look like the baby ducks, but that doesn’t mean it was really ugly.

“batty/bats in the belfry” – What makes us the standard for crazy? We fly at night, but so do owls, and they’re supposed to be wise. As far as hanging out in a belfry, it’s a good place to sleep. It’s high, it’s isolated, and the humans can’t get at us.

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“a leopard can’t change his spots” – Of course we can’t. That would be like asking them to change their skin. Why does that get connected to people who can’t change their bad habits? Our fur is not something that should be changed.

“big as a cow” – we agree with the pigs. Just because we’re made a certain way doesn’t entitle humans to use it to insult other humans. Maybe they should be more like us and just accept each other.

“badger someone” – We’re persistent and thorough. How did that get translated into a person who becomes offensive trying to make a point? It seems like they don’t even understand how any of us really are.

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The other animals all nodded in agreement.

Chester: I think that’s a good start. Now we need a few animals to draft our petition to the humans. Is anyone interested?

A bear, two gorillas, and a beaver all agreed to work on something.

Chester: Does anyone want to schedule an extra meeting for next month to decide what our next steps will be?

Douglas Gorilla: So moved.

Ballou: Second.

The motion passed.

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Next week: Do the animals think the petition is ready to go to the humans?

10

Felines and Friends Academy Elections – Part 4

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Where we are: Bella Bear is running for student government President at Cats & Friends Academy. She would be the first non-cat to hold elective office at the school.

The election was only a few days away. Each of the candidates had a particular area of interest. The platforms were:

Ellie Calico: Improve Academic Competitiveness

Bella Bear: More Activities for Non-Cat Students

Terry Tabby: More Sports

Geri Ginger: Clean Up the Environment

Marvin Manx: More Community Involvement

Walt Weasel: Weasel Power

Bella and Daphne were discussing any last-minute changes they might need to make.

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Bella: What do you think of the competition?

Daphne: The cats all have good ideas. I really think that the environment is on everyone’s mind.

Bella: So you think Geri is the one to beat?

Daphne: Not necessarily. She has a reputation for being a snob. A lot of the girls don’t like her. Of course, the guys don’t seem to mind.

Bella: She’s gorgeous.

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Daphne: Moving on. Terry probably has the idea that would be easiest for us to pull into your platform. More sports could be read as sports for more types of animals.

Bella: That’s true. As long as it doesn’t look like we’re stealing.

Daphne: You’re right. Our folks should just mention it in passing when they’re out talking to the animals.

Bella: Who’s next?

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Daphne: Ellie. She’s the one who wants us to compete in those “bowls” against other schools on TV.

Bella: I guess we’d be better known.

Daphne: She thinks that if a school is really good, the colleges will notice. Then it might be easier for Academy grads to get in.

Bella: I wonder if she’s right.

Daphne: I don’t know. But it wouldn’t hurt for some animals to study more.

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Bella: So that leaves Marvin.

Daphne: He has a great idea. Setting up programs to get the animals working with the elderly and people in need doesn’t really have a bad side.

Bella: Besides, it really looks good on a college application.

Daphne: Definitely.

Bella: I nearly forgot, what about Walt?

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Daphne: His slogan is, “Cats are weird. Is that what you want?”

Bella: That explains “Leash the Cats” on his posters.

Daphne: I really don’t see him as much of a threat.

Bella: I certainly hope not. That would be awful for all of us. What do you think of my chances?

Daphne: Assuming there aren’t to many haters out there, and that Phoebe and Phyllis have been giving us good advice, I think you’ll give the cats a good run.

Bella: I hope so.

The bears decided that Bella should stay with her message. There wasn’t anything obvious to change.

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On the way home, Bella ran into Walt Weasel.

Bella: Hello, Walt.

Walt: Ready for the big day?

Bella: I guess so. Why did you have to run against me?

Walt: You know everyone doesn’t agree with your hearts-and-flowers view of the world, don’t you?

Bella: I suppose.

Walt: Did you know that orange cat is trying to stir up anti-bear attitudes?

Bella: I didn’t know.

Walt: I’m just trying to fight fire with fire.

Bella: Thanks, I guess.

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Bella walked home in a gloomy mood. There were so many cats. What if Geri got most of them to vote against Bella. There was no way she was going to win without a lot of cats voting for her.

Election Day arrived. The students voted during lunch so the results could be announced before the end of the day. Bella felt like the day lasted forever. She was too nervous to concentrate on anything. Finally, during the last class of the day, the results were announced:

Bella Bear: 29%

Ellie Calico: 24%

Geri Ginger: 5%

Marvin Manx: 31%

Terry Tabby: 10%

Walt Weasel: 1%

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Bella was in a fog, and didn’t understand the numbers. The non-cats in the room erupted into cheers and ran up to hug her and congratulate her. Bella was confused.

Daphne: What’s wrong, Bella?

Bella: What just happened?

Daphne: You just beat out three cats and a weasel to finish second in the race!

Bella: Oh my cats! I’m Vice President.

Daphne: Yes! We have a voice in what happens thanks to you.

Ellie, Terry, and Walt came up to congratulate here. Geri sat in a corner and sulked. Marvin went up to the microphone.

Marvin: Thank you all for voting for me. I am honored that I will be serving with the first non-cat in the history of Academy politics. Bella, would you please come up and join me?

The room exploded in applause as Bella moved toward the front of the room.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

14

Felines and Friends Academy Elections – Part 3

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Where we are: Bella Bear has decided to run for student government to represent the various types of non-feline animals at the academy. She has been promised the support of many of those animals. To read the first two parts, click on the links to the right.

Several days passed. As promised, the other animals volunteered to do anything they could. The night before her first rally, Bella was nervous.

Bella: I don’t know why I said I’d do this. I’m never going to win. All I’m doing is wasting everyone’s time.

Daphne: You don’t have to win.

Bella: I know, I know. Just running is an important first step for us.

Daphne: No. I mnean you don’t have to get the most votes to win.

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Bella: What do you mean?

Daphne: What office did you register to run for?

Bella: I don’t remember. That’s kind of embarrassing. I am going to look like an idiot tomorrow.

Daphne: No, you won’t. You didn’t need to sign up, except to run for a leadership spot. The animal who gets the most votes is President, the runner-up is Vice-President, and third place becomes Treasurer.

Bella: How could I have missed that?

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Daphne: You were pretty upset about the cats running everything. You weren’t really focusing on much else.

Bella: Has it always been this way?

Daphne: As far as I know. You campaign for President, but as long as you’re in the top three, you’re elected to an office.

Bella: That’s why those cats were always in a herd. That makes sense.

Daphne: I told you the were nice kitties.

Bella: I better get going on my speech.

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When Bella was waiting to go on the stage, she was surprised to see that there were a lot of animals waiting to hear what she had to say. There were even a few cats.

Becky Squirrel: Look. The cats sent spies to see what you’re saying.

Bella: Oh, no! That’s awful.

Daphne: No, it isn’t. If they didn’t think you were a threat, they would ignore you. Besides, some of them may just want to hear what you have to say.

Ollie Otter: I agree. I always go to all the speeches just to hear what they are saying. Maybe they don’t really care if they vote for a cat.

Bella: Well, it’s too late to back out, so let’s do this.

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As she walked onto the stage, Bella heard the cheering and clapping. She hadn’t realized how many animals were ready for a change.

Bella: Thank you all for coming. I’m honored that so many of you wanted to hear me speak.

From the back: It’s about time someone showed those cats the we can’t be pushed around anymore. We’re gonna fight back. Watch out kitties, it’s our turn to roar.

The other animals began cheering the speaker. Bella was appalled. She didn’t want to fight the cats. She wanted to work with them.

Bella: No. That’s not the message at all. The cats haven’t hurt us. We just want them to understand what we want, too. We want to have a say in what activities and classes are offered. We want to be a team.

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The crowd quieted down as Bella talked about her plans and what she hoped to do, starting with afterschool and lunchtime clubs and programs more oriented toward some of the other animals. The audience listened quietly and cheered at the end.

Bella was thrilled. They seemed to really appreciate what she was saying. When she left the stage, she was surrounded by supporters. She noticed a couple of cats standing to the side and went over.

Bella: Hi, I’m Bella Bear. I’m so glad you could make it to my rally.

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Phoebe: We were just wondering if you meant what you said to those mockingbirds.

Bella: Sorry? We don’t have birds at the academy.

Phoebe: I meant the weasels who wanted to fight with us cats. Did you really mean what you said about wanted to work together? Or is that just a cover for the election?

Bella: Not at all. I don’t want to be excluded anymore, but the cats are a huge part of this school. After talking with some of you, I understand that we need to participate to get our ideas heard. I’m trying to be that voice.

Phyllis: We were hoping you’d say that. Quite a few cats are in favor non-cats having a bigger say in things. But we want to make sure it’s someone who won’t make things worse by turning the school into pro-cat and anti-cat enemies.

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Bella: Oh, yes! I completely agree.

Phyllis: Then we’d like to work with you on the best way to reach the cats.

Phoebe: And your team can work it into your message. What do you think?

Bella: I love the idea! Let me introduce you to my best friend, Daphne. She’s the one who keeps all of us on track.

Next week: Will Bella cooperative strategy work?

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

11

Felines and Friends Academy Elections – Part 2

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Where we are: Bella Bear is frustrated that cats run everything at the Academy. She talks to the cats about it, and they recommend that she run for student government office. Her friend Daphne agrees, but Bella isn’t too sure.

Bella couldn’t decide what to do. She knew that the cats ad Daphne were right. Someone had to represent the other animals, but why did it have to be her? Maybe she could get someone else to run. But who?

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Bella: Ollie, don’t you think the rest of the animals deserve representation in the student government?

Ollie: That’s a great idea, Bella! We otters have almost nothing in common with the cats. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to understand what we’re saying.

Bella: Exactly. That’s why I thought you would be the perfect animal for us to get behind. The rest of us could help with signs, social media, —

Ollie: Wait a minute, Bella. I said it was a great idea. I don’t have time to do it. I’m captain of the swim team, do gymnastics, and still need to study.

Bella: I understand. Do you have any ideas?

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Ollie: I would ask one of the squirrels. They always seem to have extra time to run around.

Bella: Good idea. Thanks.

Bella finally found the squirrels racing around the courtyard. She asked them to stop so she could explain her idea.

Joe: That’s a wonderful idea. We’re all behind you. Just tell us what you need us to do.

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The other squirrels nodded.

Becky: We could make signs and hold rallies.

Bella: Actually, I was thinking that one of you could run for office.

Becky: I don’t think that’s a good idea. If we have two non-cats running, it would probably split our votes. You should definitely be our candidate.

Bella: I meant someone to run instead of me.

Joe: No, you’d stand a better chance of winning. Everyone takes bears more seriously than squirrels. They think we’re cute and brainless.

The other squirrels agreed. Bella thanked them and left. She talked to the sheep and goats. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, but no one wanted to be the first non-cat to run for office. She went through all the species in the school with no luck.

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The only one she hadn’t talked to was Greta, the red fox who was at the school as an exchange student. Bella decided to talk to her. Foxes were like dogs with fluffy tails, weren’t they? Surely a dog would want to run against a bunch of cats.

Bella: Hi, Greta. How are you?

Greta: I am well. How are you?

Bella: I’m fine. I was just wondering if you’d heard that we’re having student government elections in a few weeks?

Greta: Yes, I have. It sounds very exciting. I am looking forward to watching the whole process.

Bella: You might have noticed that all of our leaders are cats. We were thinking that it might be nice to have a non-cat run to offer a different viewpoint.

Greta: Yes. That does sound like a good idea. Other perspectives are always helpful to a group as a whole.

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Bella: I was hoping that you would be our candidate. I’m sure you have fresh ideas.

Greta: I am honored that you would think of me as a good candidate. But I really don’t understand how a student government works. Besides, I think that some students would have trouble understanding me. Not only is my native language fox, I have a rather thick accent when I speak cat.

Bella had to agree. Greta would probably need a translator at her rallies and speeches. She thanked Greta and walked away, dejected. Bella went to find Daphne.

Bella: I can’t believe it. No one wants to run for student government.

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Daphne: Why can’t you believe it? You don’t want to run. You had a great idea, and you won’t do anything to make it happen.

Bella: That’s not true. I’d do anything that was needed to get them elected.

Daphne: OK. Since no one will run, we’ll continue to do everything from the cats’ viewpoint. And you’ll keep complaining about it. But I don’t want to hear it. You had a chance to try to change it, and you walked away.

Bella: I’d never win.

 Daphne: That’s not the point. The rest of us need to stand up for ourselves. Besides, how do you know you won’t win?

Bella: I have no idea how to get animals to vote for me.

Daphne: The rest of us will work on that.

Bella went home to think about it. If anyone was going to do it, it would have to be her. Finally, she filled out the paperwork for the election. Now came the hard part.

Next week: Bella’s campaign and the election.

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15

Felines and Friends Academy Elections

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Bella Bear: I am so mad!

Daphne Bear: What’s wrong?

Bella: Those stupid cats think they run everything.

Daphne: Anything in particular? Or is this just a generalized rant?

Bella: The Student Council has decided that the end-of-the year trip should be to the State Park.

Daphne: What’s wrong with that?

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Bella: Nothing, I guess. But the games are all about running, and jumping, and catching mice.

Daphne: They won’t care if we don’t participate.

Bella: I know. But what about the rest of us? The squirrels don’t want to chase mice. They’re cousins or something. In fact, we used to have mice in school. Until the cats made too many jokes about lunchtime.

Daphne: That was in extremely poor taste.

Bella: And what about the other animals? Sheep don’t chase mice, and neither do goats. It’s ridiculous.

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Daphne: All right. What are you going to do about it?

Bella: What do you mean? They’re in charge. What they say, goes.

Daphne: Have you told them how you feel? Do you have better ideas for the games?

Bella thought for a few minutes.

Bella: I guess I don’t. It’s hard to think of things that everyone can do. But they should think of some things that don’t only appeal to cats.

Daphne: If you’re that upset, you should talk to them. They seem like nice kitties.

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Bella: I don’t know. They intimidate me.

Daphne (laughing): Seriously? You’re, like, 10 times as big as they are.

Bella: But they always hang around in a group. It’s like they’re in a gang.

Daphne: You’re being ridiculous. They won’t hurt you. They’re kitties, not ogres.

Bella (sighing): I guess you’re right.

Bella got up her nerve and went to see the cats on the Student Council. The leader was Cherie, a beautiful Maine Coon.

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Cherie: Hi Bella. What’s up?

Bella: I was wondering if we could talk about the picnic?

Cherie: Of course.

Bella: It’s just that the games all seem to be cat-centric. The rest of us won’t have anything to do. It happens a lot around here. We can study cat dialects, but there aren’t any classes to learn bear or anything else. And most of the music classes are cat music. We need more diversity.

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Cherie: I understand what you’re saying, Bella. But this school was started by cats, for cats. There are a lot more cats. We don’t intentionally leave you out. But we don’t know anything about bears, or most other animals.

Bella: Almost every animal in student government is a cat. And all of the leadership.

Cherie: That’s not our fault. The only animals that ran for offices were cats.

Bella: Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that.

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Jasmine Calico: If you’re so interested in changing things, you should run for office. The elections for next year are coming up.

Bella: Oh, no. I couldn’t do that.

Jasmine: Then you can’t complain about what we do. We work hard to do what we think is best for the students. If you don’t think we’re doing a good job, then try to change things. You won’t get anywhere just by complaining.

The other cats nodded in agreement. None of them looked angry or intimidating. In fact, they looked like they thought they were giving her good advice. Bella thanked them and left.

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Bella: I am so frustrated. Those cats are so arrogant!

Daphne: What now?

Bella: Would you believe that they said the whole thing is my fault?

Daphne: Really? Why would they say that?

Bella: They said that if I wanted to change things, I should run for office.

Daphne: So they won’t change the games?

Bella: I forgot to ask them about that.

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Daphne: What did you talk about?

Bella: I told them that the school is too cat-centric, and that some of the other animals needed to be considered when important decisions are made.

Daphne: That sounds reasonable.

Bella: I thought so. But then they told me that they’re cats, and they think like cats. If I wanted things to change, I needed to get involved.

Daphne: Were they mean about it?

Bella: No. But they’re in charge, they need to change things.

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Daphne: They told you they think like cats. If you want them to think like bears, or sheep, or whatever, you need to teach them. We don’t think like cats.

Bella: I guess. But I can’t run. No one will vote for me.

Daphne: Why not? You’re passionate about it.

Bella: I don’t know what to say.

Daphne: You’ll think of something. Do you want things to change or not?

Bella: I need to think about it.

Next week: Will Bella have enough confidence to run for office?

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

13

Ranger Bob – Conclusion

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So far: Four raccoon kits have met a bear at the park. The bear turns out to be the beloved Ranger Bob. Somehow the school has lost track of its former safety adviser, and he is living across the river with his daughter. Upon discovery, Ranger Bob is invited to visit the school. You can start the story here.

Ranger Bob steps onto the stage and hugs John The young animals clap and sit down.

Ranger Bob:  Hello, everyone! It’s nice to see you.

Students: It’s nice to see you too, Ranger Bob.

Ranger Bob: I want to thank Ms. Porcupine for inviting me to speak. I used to come to the school a lot. I know most of your parents.

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Timmy Chipmunk: My mom was really excited that you’re here She says you know everything about safety in the woods.

Ranger Bob (embarrassed): Well, I don’t know everything. But I’ve learned a lot over time.

Ms. Porcupine: I invited Ranger Bob here to share some of what he knows about forest safety.

Ranger Bob: What’s the most important thing to remember in the woods?

The children shout out answers:

Don’t get lost!

Don’t eat poison plants!

Don’t eat poison bugs!

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Don’t eat each other!

Everyone laughs.

Ranger Bob: The most important thing to remember is to be prepared. Be sure you have enough water available. Know how to get back to where you started. Questions?

Wally Weasel:  Is it OK to go out by ourselves?

Ranger Bob: I recommend that you always take at least one friend with you. But if you do go alone, be sure someone else knows where you’re going and when you plan to be home.

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Becky Beaver: What do I do if I get lost?

Ranger Bob: If you’re sure you’re lost, find a safe spot and stay there until someone finds you.

Rikki Raccoon: I’d climb a tree to see if I recognized anything.

Ranger Bob: Excellent idea!

Sheila Squirrel: I’d use the squirrel chatter network to tell my parents where I was.

Ranger Bob: Wonderful!

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Louie Wolf: I’d howl to give my position.

Ranger Bob: Another excellent idea! You children are doing great!

Mama and Papa Raccoon are sitting at the back of the room with Ms. Porcupine.

Ms. Porcupine: He really gets along well with the children, doesn’t he?

Mama: Oh, yes. He always has.

Ms. Porcupine: He’s so big. I wonder why they aren’t afraid of him.

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Papa: They know he won’t hurt them. I don’t think they even think about his size after a while.

Mama: He’s very gentle. And talks to them as if they were all the same size.

They watch Ranger Bob and the children for a while.

Ranger Bob: Kids, I’m having a great time, but I think it’s about time for me to go. Any last questions?

Anna Raccoon: Are you going to come back soon and teach us more?

Ranger Bob: That’s up to your school.

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The children turn to look at Ms. Porcupine.

Ms. Porcupine: What types of things did you have in mind, Anna?

Anna Raccoon: I don’t know. Safety stuff. Like swimming.

The others join in.

Forest fires

Snakes

Floods

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First Aid

Building shelters

Finally, Ms. Porcupine holds up her paw, laughing.

Ms. Porcupine: Ranger Bob, it seems that the children have become very interested in safety all of a sudden.

Ranger Bob: They were very good listeners. And it is important that they know how to stay safe. We want them around for a while.

The children giggle and nod.

Ms. Porcupine: You seem to get along well with them and enjoy teaching them.

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Ranger Bob: I’ve enjoyed teaching kids about safety for as long as I can remember.

Ms. Porcupine: Would you be available to come in one afternoon a month for a presentation?

Ranger Bob: I’d be honored.

Ms. Porcupine: Just tell me the subject ahead of time so the parents will know. They might want to come too.

Ranger Bob: Of course.

Ranger Bob turns to the children.

Ranger Bob: OK, kids?

They race up and hug him. It looks like there might be tears in Ranger Bob’s eyes.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

11

Ranger Bob – Part 3

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So far: Four raccoon kits have met a bear at the park. The bear turns out to be the beloved Ranger Bob. They go back to invite Ranger Bob to dinner, but he is gone. The family finally finds him living with his daughter across the river. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Ranger Bob: James Raccoon! How are you? It’s been a long time.

Papa: I know. I know. I didn’t realize how long until my kits said they saw you at the river.

He points to Jimmy, John, Anna, and Sally.

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Ranger Bob: James, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare them. I just didn’t want them to get hurt in the river. You know I wouldn’t hurt them.

Mama: Of course not. We all love you, Ranger Bob.

Ranger Bob: Maria! How are you?

Mama: Life is good. How are you?

Ranger Bob: I guess I’m getting old. It seems that all you kids I knew have grown up and had kids of their own. You can pass on what I’ve taught you. You don’t need me around anymore.

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Mama: That’s not true! We still need you.

Ranger Bob (sadly): I didn’t help your children. I scared them.

John: Only because you’re so big and have such a deep voice.

Sally: Jimmy would have done something stupid if you hadn’t stopped him.

Jimmy: It wasn’t stupid! I was hot.

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John: You could have drownded.

Jimmy: Well . . . Maybe it wasn’t really smart.

Ranger Bob: Your brother’s right. It’s not safe to swim alone. Didn’t your parents tell you that?

Papa: We thought he knew.

Mama: I knew it was a bad idea to let them go to the park by themselves.

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Ranger Bob: They’re old enough, Maria. They just need to follow the rules. Kits, who’s teaching you about safety?

Anna: Mama and Papa teach us stuff.

Papa: And we thought you were still around the school and parks.

Ranger Bob: The school hasn’t called me in a long time.

Mama: Susie Squirrel and I just heard about that from the principal. It seems that no one told her that you ran the safety program. She feels terrible about it.

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A smaller bear walks up.

Bear: Daddy, who are all these raccoons?

Ranger Bob: The parents are friends from across river. The others are their kits. Maria and James, this is my daughter Alicia.

Alicia: Nice to meet you. I hope nothing’s wrong. Daddy was pretty attached to quite a few animals over there.

Mama: Not at all.

Sally: We wanted to invite Ranger Bob to dinner to thank him for keeping Jimmy from doing something stupid.

Jimmy: Grrr

Ranger Bob: Really?

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John: And apologize for running away.

Ranger Bob (to John): Could I have a hug?

John runs up and tries to hug Ranger Bob. His arms only go a little way around the bear. Ranger Bob laughs.

Ranger Bob: I guess I do look pretty big to you.

John: That’s OK. You’re a nice bear.

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Sally: Will you come to dinner? Please?

Ranger Bob: I’d love to.

The next week, Ranger Bob and Alicia visited the raccoons. Ranger Bob entertained them with stories about his adventures and the time he met Smokey the Bear. A few days later, he called to thank them for dinner.

Mama: I’m glad you called. I talked to Ms. Porcupine. She’d like you to come and talk to the students.

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Ranger Bob: Are you sure?

Mama: She said the kits were telling everyone about his stories, and they want to meet him.

Ranger Bob: That would make me very happy.

A few weeks later:

John: We like to introduce you to our friend, Ranger Bob.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

14

Ranger Bob – Part 2

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So far: Four raccoon kits have met a bear at the park. The bear turns out to be the beloved Ranger Bob. However, when they go back to invite Ranger Bob to dinner, he has disappeared. You can read the details here.

Mama: Did you find out when Ranger Bob is available for dinner?

Sally: We couldn’t find him at the park.

John: And they made me go into the forest to look for him.

Anna: It wasn’t dangerous. We hid from all the big bears. We talked to a cub.

Mama: Did the cub take you to Ranger Bob’s den?

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Anna: No. He said that Ranger Bob had gone away and didn’t tell anyone where he was going.

Sally: It sounded like he was sad when he left.

Mama: That’s too bad. I hope he’s OK.

Sally: We still want to find him to thank him. Where do you think he might go?

Mama: I’m not really sure. He was always around when I was little. We didn’t need to look for him. Let me talk to Papa and some of the other parents.

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Mama and Papa talked to some of their friends. They were embarrassed to realize that no one had noticed that Ranger Bob wasn’t around much anymore. In fact, no one could remember the last time they had spoken with him.

The parents wondered when the last time was that he had given a safety talk at school. Mama and Mrs. Squirrel decided to talk to the principal.

Mama: Thank you so much for seeing us, Ms. Porcupine. We won’t take up too much of your time.

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Ms. Porcupine: It’s no trouble at all. How can I help you ladies?

Mrs. Squirrel: We were wondering if you know why Ranger Bob doesn’t visit the school anymore?

Ms. Porcupine (puzzled):  Who is Ranger Bob?

Mrs. Squirrel: You know. The big black bear who explains safety to the school children.

Mama: You didn’t grow up around here, did you Ms. Porcupine?

Ms. Porcupine: No. I moved when I got this position.

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Mama: Ranger Bob taught us all about safety when we were little. We recently discovered that our children have never met him. In fact, he startled my kits a few days ago.

Ms. Porcupine: Was he an employee at the school?

Mama: No. They invited him to speak at the beginning and end of the school year. We all loved him. He was particularly popular at the “Fun in the Sun Day” at the end of the school year.

Mrs. Squirrel: Yes, and we’d see him all summer at the beach and river.

Ms. Porcupine: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I’d been overlooking such an important part of the teaching team. If you’ll tell me how to reach him, I’ll explain what happened and invite him in.

Mrs. Squirrel: That’s the problem. We can’t find him. We thought maybe you’d have some ideas about where to find him.

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Ms. Porcupine: I’m afraid not. But let me talk to some of the teachers. I’ll let you know what I find out.

 Ms. Porcupine asked for any information available about ways to reach Ranger Bob. The only thing she learned was that he had a daughter on the other side of the river.

She left a message at the number listed, but got no response.

Mama: I guess we’ll have to try going over there.

Papa: I would like to find him and make sure everything is OK.

Sally: Can we come too? Please?

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Papa: All right. But we have to stick together.

The raccoons left early the next morning. They weren’t sure how to find a bear among strangers, but hoped for the best.

The animals on the other side of the river were all friendly. One of the local raccoons said that a strange male bear had passed through a few days earlier looking for a female named Emily.

Papa found a bear and explained the situation. He asked for directions to Emily’s den. The raccoons walked on, paws crossed.

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Before long, they saw a bear sitting on a rock with his head down.

Papa: Excuse me, sir.

The bear looked up. Papa ran up and hugged him.

Papa: Ranger Bob! We’ve been looking all over for you. Why did you leave?

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Next week: What the future holds for Ranger Bob.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

12

Ranger Bob

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Mama Raccoon called the family to dinner. The four kits raced to the table. After everyone had settled down, she brought out the food and the dipping bowls.

Mama: How was your day?

Sally: Great! After school, we went to the park to play ball and run around.

John: It was great until this huge old bear started yelling at us.

Papa: What huge bear?

John: I don’t know. I ran away when he started coming toward us.

Mama: Why was he yelling? Was he growling too? Do you think he was trying to eat you? I knew I shouldn’t let you go there by yourselves.

Anna: Calm down, Mama. John’s just being a scaredy-cat.

John: I’m not a cat! I’m a raccoon!

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Anna: I just meant that you didn’t need to run. He wasn’t coming after us. He didn’t want Jimmy to jump into the river.

Papa: Why were you going to jump into the river?

Jimmy: I was hot.

Papa: What was the bear saying?

Jimmy: He said that it wasn’t safe to swim by myself because an adult needed to be close in case I got a cramp or something. Besides, the river has a current.

Anna: The bear was afraid that since we’re so small, he might not be strong enough to swim against the current if we needed to.

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Papa: Wait a minute. What does this bear look like?

Anna: He was tall with glossy black fur. And tan all around his muzzle

Papa looked at Mama, and they both started to laugh.

Sally: What’s so funny?

Mama: John, you don’t have to worry. That’s Ranger Bob.

John: Who’s Ranger Bob?

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Mama: Ranger Bob has been keeping the children of the forest safe for years.

Sally: Why does he do that?

Papa: Years ago, there was a big fire. A lot of the children got separated from their parents. They were frightened because they didn’t understand what was happening.

Mama: Ranger Bob gathered them together and made sure they were safe. Then he explained the fire and how dangerous it was. He also told them how to tell when a fire was approaching and what to do.

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Anna: That’s a great idea. And it was so nice of him.

Mama: He was a hero to all those parents and children. He loved being around the children. He made sure nothing happened to them.

Papa: The children loved him too. He’s been protecting us for years. I’m surprised he hasn’t been to your school.

Jimmy: Some of the other kids talk about Ranger Bob, but I didn’t know who he was.

John: He’s still a little scary. He’s so big. And he yelled at us.

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Anna: He yelled because Jimmy was going to do something stupid, and he wanted to make sure he got our attention.

Jimmy: Hey! It wasn’t stupid. I was hot.

Anna: OK. You were going to do something unsafe. It’s the same thing.

Jimmy looked offended.

Sally: I’ve got an idea. Let’s invite Ranger Bob to dinner to thank him for stopping Jimmy from doing something stupid.

Jimmy: It wasn’t stupid!

Sally: Whatever.

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Mama: That’s an excellent idea. After school tomorrow, you kits can ask him when he’s available.

The kits really didn’t know where he lived. They started at the park. No luck.

They decided to get up their courage and go into the woods to find the bears.

John: I am not going into the woods. It’s too scary.

Jimmy: Fine. Stay here.

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John: By myself?

Jimmy: Yes. By yourself.

John didn’t like that idea either. He looked at Anna.

John: Anna? Will you hold my hand?

Anna: Of course.

The raccoons went into the woods. They ran across several bears. But they all seemed so big that the kits hid. Finally, a cub came along.

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Jimmy: Hey, can we talk to you?

Cub (surprised): We don’t get many raccoons in this part of the woods now that you guys are semi-domesticated.

John: That’s because you guys are so scary.

Cub: We’re not scary. We’re just big. We wouldn’t hurt you.

Anna: We’re looking for Ranger Bob.

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Cub: Good luck. He left this morning. He seemed pretty upset.

Anna: Where did he go?

Cub: He wouldn’t tell any of us.

The kits thanked him and left. They were disappointed. How would they find him now?

Sally: We need to go home and think about this. Maybe Mama and Papa know where he might go.

The kits went home to talk to their parents.

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Next week: Why did Ranger Bob go, and why did he leave?

Pictures courtesy of Google