My two best friends: Mekah and Lara

After a rough start to high school in 2016, Year 10 work experience student Jessica sought out a new puppy to bring some happiness into her life. It was love at first sight when she met German Shepherd puppy Mekah. Below, Jessica tells the story of how they met … 

It’s interesting how some people say diamonds are a girl’s best friend – in my case, my dogs are my best friends.

A couple of years ago, I was in Year 8, my first year of high school. I had a rough start trying to find my feet and didn’t know where to go.

One day I came home exhausted and complained to mum and dad I wanted a puppy. Mum and dad were considering it, but had their doubts at the same time. I already had a dog named Zara, a German shepherd, the most beautiful and athletic dog.

Still, I kept asking and my parents ended up looking at German Shepherd puppies online. They chose a breeder who looked professional and knew what she was talking about, so we called her up and arranged a time to see the puppies the next day. I was filled with joy!

The next day we drove all the way down to Penfield to look at the puppies. When we got there, there were at least 40 German Shepherds barking at us as we waited to get let into the yard.

Finally, the gates opened and we walked into the puppies’ cages. I got to choose which puppy I wanted and I chose the girl – she was so tiny, as small as my two hands put together.

Mekah

The lovely Mekah, as she looked when we first laid eyes on her at the breeder’s place

We put a deposit down but we couldn’t take her home yet because she still needed some needles and also had to be vaccinated.

I went home and started to choose names. I decided on the name Mekah – yes it’s a different way to spell it from Meeka, the standard way it is spelt, but I liked it because it was different.

A week later we went and picked Mekah up and took her home. She fell asleep straight away. A few days later we took her to the vet because her back legs were a bit wobbly and she kept falling over.

Mekah as a puppy

A picture of Mekah one week after we took her home

Mekah had her X-rays done and it turned out she had severe hip dysplasia in both of her hips. We contacted the breeder, who was shocked. She said none of the dogs she had bred had ever had hip dysplasia before. The breeder refunded our money and said she was going to take Mekah and put her down. But we couldn’t let that happen to Mekah – she was only a puppy! So we kept her. We have looked after her ever since and still to this day, Mekah is a fun and adventurous dog who loves to play and EAT!!!

We still had Zara at the time we got Mekah and they both got along so well, until one night Zara had several seizures and had to be put down. Zara was only two years old when she died on the 11th of July 2017.

It was sad and my family didn’t know how to move on without Zara, because she was so close to us and was the best dog. My brother wanted another dog, so once again we searched for a puppy online, this time for a Siberian husky. One evening he came in and said ‘I’ve found a dog and I’m buying her.’

She was the cutest puppy I have ever seen: a Siberian Husky with long and fluffy white fur and big bright blue eyes.

My brother made a booking as soon as he could to go and see the puppy, because so many people were interested in her and wanted to buy her.

I went with my brother and my mum and dad to meet the dog and the breeders, who were so nice and friendly.

A few days later we collected the dog and named her Lara. We chose Lara because it rhymed with Zara, the name of our previous dog.

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My gorgeous puppy Lara, who turned one earlier in the year

Both Mekah and Lara love playing and sleeping a lot, when they are not eating…..

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Lara and Mekah, chilling at home

Mekah is currently two and a half years old.

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Mekah is now two and a half years old and is a big sook

Lara has only just turned one.

Both Lara and Mekah have had big impacts in our family’s lives. They bring a lot of happiness and smiles to my family and that’s why we love them the most.

THE MANDELA EFFECT

Year 10 work experience student Caitlin is a massive fan of supernatural phenomena and the unknown. While watching a YouTube video on conspiracy theories, Caitlin stumbled onto the ‘Mandela effect’. She writes more about the topic for us below:


Have you ever been convinced something is set a particular way but it turns out you were completely wrong? Chances are you have. This is referred to as false memory or “The Mandela Effect.” The Mandela effect is a psychological phenomenon and it is a collective of misremembered facts or events. Some believe it is just our mind weaving a lie but others speculate this is evidence you have experienced events from a different reality.

Don’t worry though, you are not alone. Many people experience similar Mandela effects. The human memory is a complex thing and although we do know a lot about it, there are still some holes in our research. These past events that people remember feel so real and vivid, most refuse to believe the evidence. Various theories have been speculated and proposed – some are sensible but others still have many confused.

If you are still confused let me give you an example:

In the popular and iconic movie Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (which if you haven’t seen it, were you raised under a rock?) Luke finds out Darth Vader is his father. Darth Vader says to him, “Luke, I am your father.” Well at least that’s what most of us remember. In fact he actually says “No, I am your father.” If you remembered it correctly, well done, but if you believe it to be the other way around you’re in the same boat with thousands of other people. It gets even more confusing because there is various evidence complementing both sides of the story.

The Mandela Effect began in 2010 when American paranormal enthusiast, Fiona Broome, posted on her website about Nelson Mandela. She claimed she remembered seeing news coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death in late 1991 in a South African prison. It wasn’t just something small and hazy – Broome clearly remembered news clips of his funeral, the mourning in South Africa, rioting in cities, and the heartfelt speech by his widow.You may be thinking she’s crazy, due to the fact Nelson Mandela died in 2013.

 

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Fiona Broome                                                 Image source:     https://cynthiasuelarson.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/berenstain-bears-mandela-effect-thanksgiving-thursday/

When she heard the official news in 2013, Broome believed she had just misunderstood the previous information but when she attended Dragon Con she learnt from a member of security there were a number of people at the event who also remembered that Nelson Mandela died in prison.

Nelson Mandela

But did he really die in 2013?                                                                                                                                   Image source: https://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1205/491152-nelson-mandela/


This notion spiralled and Broome found thousands of people who were in the same boat as her. When she started posting about it online, she got hundreds of response messages. One person who remembered Nelson Mandela dying in prison was with their mum and when hearing of his death in 2013, both were confused. Both remembered the Oprah show dedicated to Mandela and a specific concert that was live and shown on multiple channels in memory of Nelson Mandela. There is even proof of a Time magazine article stating he died in 1991, 22 years before his reported 2013 death. Many remember discussing Nelson Mandela’s death with family and friends and one even had a notebook where they documented his death prior to 2013.

Here’s the newspaper ‘proof’

Mandela effect - proof

Image source: https://in5d.com/the-mandela-effect-proof-that-negative-timelines-are-collapsing/

 

Maybe you’re skeptical. But if you are someone who remembers Nelson Mandela’s death prior to 2013, then go to this link to discuss with others:

http://mandelaeffect.com/nelson-mandela-died-in-prison/#comment-4891

If you still are completely turned away by this, then let me give you even more evidence:

Remember the ever-so-popular line from Disney’s rendition of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. The line goes “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” You would think this line would be easy to remember, seeing as IMDb actually describes this film as “by far most memorable full-length animated feature from the Disney Studios.” What if I told you the Queen never says ‘mirror, mirror’ but instead says ‘magic mirror’. In earlier written copies of Snow White, each has the stated line “mirror, mirror”. Snow White was written around 100 years prior to the film and each rendition uses “mirror, mirror”. Of course a logical explanation is that Disney just changed the wording – but why are there so many people who vividly remember the film version saying “mirror, mirror”? You can even see the line being used in pop culture references, appearing in TV shows, on t-shirts and even a movie having it as its title.

I could go on and on about this topic with hundreds of other Mandela Effect examples but I’ll leave you to explore and make your own judgements.

Natsume’s Book of Friends – an anime/manga recommendation

Work experience student Jasmine recently spent a week with us at Tea Tree Gully Library – she loves anime and highly recommends the series ‘Natsume’s Book of Friends’ .

Here’s Jasmine in her own words:

Hello, my name is Jasmine and I have just completed one week of work experience at the library. I chose to come to the Tea Tree Gully Library because of my passion for books – being surrounded by them for a whole week is a dream come true. After school I usually come here for many reasons, mainly to read and borrow books from the vast collection. I also place holds from the many other amazing libraries in South Australia. I enjoy reading many different genre books such as fantasy, horror, action and comedy.

My absolute favourite kind of books to read are manga books: a Japanese light novel of sorts, with a unique and distinctive art style. Manga is closely connected to anime, which uses the same art style as manga in an animated show or video format (which I am also obsessed with). More often than not, manga has an anime adaptation and vice versa, in the case the anime was created prior to the manga. This is to engage viewers who prefer either media, as it can also show different story directions. For example if an anime had two seasons, in the first half of the manga almost all of the same events occur and then in the second half of the manga, the second season of the anime commences. The story takes a different direction, creating a different result for the conclusion.

It is impossible for me to pick a favourite manga series – however I would like to share with you a series I am currently reading. I would like to show and suggest to you Natsume’s Book of Friends, a fantasy series depicting the life of Takashi Natsume. Not having any parents around from a fairly young age Natsume was shuffled between many family members throughout the majority of his life, none of whom cared for Natsume and were simply looking after him because they had to. Natsume did not have any friends while being shuffled from house to house for two simple reasons:

a) He wasn’t in one place long enough to keep any

b) Because he could see creatures called yokai

Yokai are a kind of spirit that cannot be seen by most people, however there are a select few who can see them. Some yokai are malevolent – others are quite passive. Each of the yokai look unique and bizarre, apart from the humanoid-looking yokai who wear yokai masks.

Most of the people who can see the spirits either:

  1. Ignore them
  2. Research the yokai
  3. Become exorcists

Throughout his childhood Natsume repeatedly tried to explain to his classmates and family about the creatures nobody else seemed to be able to see. Everybody, including his family, thought he was imagining it or was making up things for attention, Natsume was left alone to figure out what these creatures were and why he could see them when no one else could. This was until he moved into his aunt and uncle’s house, when he decided not to mention his ability to see yokai at all to his new classmates, or to his aunt and uncle. By not telling anybody about his ability at his new school allowed him to make friends, however he still remained a bit of an oddball.

The main plot line of this manga/anime series is driven by the events following Natsume’s discovery of a special book ‘The book of friends’, which belonged to his grandmother Reiko Natsume. It is a small book containing names of many yokai. The names contained in the book symbolise contracts that were made between Reiko and the yokai, which ruled the yokai do anything at her will. After Natsume found the book it was his responsibility to return all the names to their owners, break the contracts and defeat any yokai cruel beyond reason. Soon after being burdened by the responsibility of returning yokai names, Natsume met a yokai who resides in a ceramic cat body known as Nyanko – sensei.

While residing in the ceramic cat, Nyanko-Sensei can be seen by all humans, but cleverly hides the fact he is a yokai to most people. After running into heaps of danger and odd situations, Natsume makes a few more friends who can see or at least know about yokai and they go on yokai adventures together throughout the series.

As the series progresses Natsume starts to learn about his grandmother and discovers secrets about his family. Eventually it becomes an objective of his to know as much as possible about his family.

 

 

 

I enjoy this series in every way, from the characters and character development, the art style, plot line and many other things. It is a series I definitely recommend looking into. Personally I have been unable to watch the anime at this point but am up to date on the manga. I have been told the anime is of great quality and quite popular in Japan and among western audiences. I absolutely can’t wait to watch the anime considering how amazing the manga is.

That is it for my blog post, I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Tips on how to choose a book to read – by Jamie

Have you ever wasted time reading a book that leads you nowhere? Hoping it ‘gets better’ somewhere along the way – except – it doesn’t?
Work experience student Jamie has a formula for selecting books and genres to make reading a pleasurable experience every time.

Reading is a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages, but sometimes the novels that look interesting at a glance are only filled with disappointment. In this post, I am going to attempt to help you decipher whether a book is worth reading after only a chapter or two. This is only going to refer to fictional novels because there is an entirely different way of determining the quality of non-fiction, and of course children’s picture books can’t be held to the same standards. Please take what I say with a grain of salt as I am only 16 and obviously have not experienced as many books as some other people.

Before you can even begin to examine whether a book is worth reading, you need to understand what kinds of books suit you the best. If you read a lot then you won’t need any advice finding a genre, because you probably know already. If not, I’ll try to help you choose a genre or two.

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An easy way to start discovering what kinds of books best suit you is to look at the other media you consume (movies, TV shows etc.) and find out what genres they are. Most of the time the kinds of books that you enjoy are the same as the other things you enjoy. Another way to find what is best suited to your tastes is to ask friends and family to recommend books they think you’ll like. People close to you will be good at finding things you like because they spend so much time in your company. If this isn’t helpful, you could try reading short stories online to see what attracts your attention. I found myself suddenly interested in Steven King after reading a short story, called Suffer the Little Children, which he wrote.

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King Image credit: http://www.mymbuzz.co

 

Now you have (hopefully) found a genre, you need to decide what you want in a book. Different people are attracted to different books for different reasons. This means that while an author may fall short in one way or another, it might not be an area that interested you anyway. An individual can enjoy a book purely because of the characters. Personally, I like books to be well-rounded and to focus on characters and plot development, so I find myself abandoning many books. If you can determine what aspects of reading you enjoy, it will be easier to decide if it will let you down in the end.

From the first chapters in a book it is usually clear what problems are going to persist. You might be used to continuing a book in the hope it might get good later, but I can confidently say it won’t. There isn’t enough time to read all of the good books in the world, so don’t waste time on the bad ones. I have never read a book that I found extremely boring in the beginning get better later. I’ve also discovered many books start out promising but go downhill. Books that seem promising in the beginning but later get worse are sometimes difficult or nearly impossible to identify. I will attempt to give you some tools to spot books that will disappoint you later.

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You may believe the most important part of a novel is the premise – but you are indisputably wrong. I enjoy it when a book has an exciting and engaging premise but it isn’t the most important thing. I have read books where the premise was interesting and showed amazing potential but was a letdown because of boring characters or lazy writing. I have also found books that had a seemingly boring premise to be written in a way that made the story engaging and interesting. It’s best not to judge a book solely on the potential it has, although it’s a good start. The skill of the author is what makes a novel memorable, not the basic idea behind the novel. Even if the author has the most amazing idea for a story, they can still fall flat if they don’t possess the skill that is needed. Reading reviews of your chosen novel will tell you how other people felt after reading it and can stop you wasting your time.

The dialogue between the characters in a book is a very important part of any novel. If a lot of the conversations between characters in the beginning of a book exists purely for exposition or has statements which no real person would ever say, then this is a sign of lazy writing. You can also tell if the characters are boring after only a few chapters. If a character has one trait or hobby that completely defines them and they don’t have multiple aspects to their personality, then they aren’t thought through very well. Boring characters are not good! The characters are part of what connects the reader to the action, so if they have no personality, then you, the reader, won’t relate to them or understand them. Having an abundance of scenes where the characters are sitting down and talking is also incredibly boring. It is fine occasionally but too many scenes where nothing happens is a bad sign. The author isn’t creative enough if the only time and place where characters interact is seated around a table.

boring conversation is terrible in a book

Boring! How you feel after reading pointless conversations in a book

Plot is another important part of any story. The plot can be simple or complicated as long as it is easy enough to understand and doesn’t leave large unanswered questions. If there is no hint of a plot within the first few chapters, then the novel probably isn’t worth reading. If there is no hint of plot, the entire first part of the book will be pointless. The plot also has to be interesting. I have read books with basic plotlines which take no originality to create and have no unique aspects to them. A good book should be unique so that it isn’t interchangeable with other books of the same genre. Having a predictable or overused plot is a sign of a book poorly made. There is no point in reading something that has nothing unique about it. If you even suspect the novel you are reading is going to be exactly like any number of other things you have read, then it probably won’t be worth your time.

a good book

You know you’ve found a book you like when thinking about the story makes you happy

 

I believe I have given you a sufficient amount of tools to help you decipher the quality of what you’re reading. Now that you know how to pick a genre that suits your personality and keep you engaged it should make choosing a book much simpler. You also know a few indications of a poorly written or poorly thought-out book. You can use this information to improve your enjoyment of the things you read but in the end, it’s your choice to take my advice so feel free to do whatever you like with the information I have provided.

Ebony’s work experience: getting a peek behind the scenes

Ebony got a taste of life on the other side of the library when she spent a week with us on work experience. Here is what she had to say:


I chose to do my work experience at the Tea Tree Gully Library because I wanted to see how things functioned in a library. This gave me the chance to work behind the scenes.

After I was introduced to the guidelines and responsibilities of the work environment, I was given a library tour. I already knew the public area of the library, but I was more inclined to see the systems set in place that keeps everything organised.

I quickly learnt about the different classifications used to catalogue all library items to make shelving simple.  I was most excited to see inside the chute room, since I have always been on the outside dropping off items. This time it was fun to work on the inside!

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Behind the scenes – cataloguing books and other items

Scanning library items was also enjoyable because it was a smooth process: items would go back to other libraries, go on the holds shelf, or return to their normal shelving spot. I used the special library wand to find items on the Pick List, which is the list of customer requests.  This I found very helpful and time efficient. The CSD (Customer service desk) was informative to see the different trolleys which served different purposes.

I had the chance to experience Storytime, which was the cutest thing ever! Stories were read to young children and then they could sing along with different nursery rhymes. Toddler Time was adorable, it was filled with loads of songs and actions the children could follow.

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Enjoying Story Time, reading stories and singing nursery rhymes

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I also attended an information session with the staff members of the library. The information was noted from a conference held earlier in the month. The discussion was about the purpose of having a library and what it can offer. People were questioning the importance of a library and the ways in which they can stay alive due to developing technology. Personally I think libraries will always be necessary in a community, and people shouldn’t be finding ways to undermine what a library can offer. For me a library is a safe and welcoming place I can visit after school, read books that I can actually hold, and take in knowledge, all in a relaxing environment.

Libraries are also where people of the community can meet for different activities. I was involved in the Japanese culture group, which lets young people express their interest and learn about Japanese culture. It was great to see the wide range of people who shared a passion for Japan, just like me!

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Enjoying the Japanese culture group

Spending a week doing work experience at the Tea Tree Gully Library has enabled me to involve myself in a professional work environment. This allowed me to further develop my skills, and broaden my independence. I believe being able to communicate with a wide range of people has helped me become more confident when expressing myself.

Having a fully structured schedule has made me more accountable and increased my alertness. Overall I have really enjoyed working with the lovely staff members at the Tea Tree Gully Library.

Living with six cats

Many book lovers are also cat lovers. Work experience student Tayla was over the moon the day she discovered a litter of kittens joined her family – all of a sudden, they had six cats to look after! Here is Tayla’s story, in her own words: 

You never know the moment your life will change forever. It can happen any minute and you wouldn’t know. For my family, we were just returning home from my sister’s Year 7 Graduation. We didn’t become billionaires or win a trip overseas or anything… instead a small, scrawny kitten approached us from the darkness of night. We knew there were a few other cats that lived in our neighbourhood but we had never seen this one before. Either way, we brought it inside and poured it a small bowl of milk to quench its thirst. I can remember how my sister and I were over the moon with excitement, thinking we were going to have a new pet cat! But of course my parents thought otherwise…

It was after all of our begging and pleading that my parents agreed to take care of the kitten and see where things went from there. Little did we know this decision would change our lives forever! At the time we already ‘owned’ one cat, which would come and stay with us whenever it pleased… even though it technically belonged to our neighbours. Of course, our neighbours were fine with ‘Patch’ living with us as long as she was happy too.

Squizzy

One of my cats, Squizzy

Months passed and after asking around the neighbourhood to see if anyone had lost their cat, we decided it was time to give the kitten a name. Now my family have never been good at naming animals. In fact we usually just stick with the first thing that comes to mind… so we called it ‘Squizzy’. I think it was probably because of the fact its bushy tail resembled a squirrel in some way.

One day we happened to notice something strange about Squizzy. We were petting Squizzy’s stomach and saw it looked bigger than usual. When we felt it there was a small kick that responded. It was from that day onward we concluded that ‘it’ was actually a ‘she’ and Squizzy was going to be a mother! But excitement aside – my parents immediately decided we were to give away the kittens once they were born… but my sister and I didn’t give up hope yet. We had decided that we were going to keep those kittens one way or another!

The day of arrival came at last. My mother came and picked me up from school early that day due to the fact one kitten had already been born! She was tiny, fluffy and was curled up in a small ball in the corner of Squizzy’s basket. Soon after the first kitten, later named ‘Rosie’, was born, a second small ball of fluff popped out and joined her. We called him ‘Badger’. Another hour passed and we were presented with two more beautiful kittens, which we named ‘Panther’ and ‘Navi’. I know, creative names, right? Once we saw them we knew we couldn’t let them go, and thus it was the beginning of how we came to own six beautiful cats!!

My four cats Navi, Badger, Panther and Rosie

Front row: Navi, Badger and Panther and Rosie is the one up the top

Over the years we have been through a lot with our cats. Rosie, our eldest, had to get a bone in her hip removed due to falling out of a tree! It was a tiresome few months for her as she couldn’t walk or move and had to spend her time in a large cage watching cartoons on the TV. She was very quiet throughout the days but after she recovered, she was up and running again like nothing ever happened. We call her ‘our little mechanical girl!’

Another thing that happened the same year the kittens were born had quite an impact on everything. My favourite cat, Badger, had grown quite close to me since he was born. He took an instant liking to me and his younger sister, Navi, and became the happiest cat alive. And the strangest. He would always sleep alongside me at night and before we would go to sleep, he would come up to my face and lick my nose. Badger would also purr so loudly that it was impossible to fall asleep before he did. Whenever the heater was on Badger would go and sit directly in front of it and stare into the flames. He became my best friend in such a short amount of time.

I never knew it would end so soon…

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. Badger had been missing for a few days but seeing as our cats wandered outside, we didn’t think much of it at the time. I was talking to my sister in the living room when my parents told me the bad news. They had found him on the side of the road a few hours earlier and buried him out the back. It felt like my world came crashing down in one night… Of course I was upset but we had a nice funeral for him and buried him with some flowers. His sister Navi seemed to distance herself from the rest of the family over the years, yet she grew closer to me. Badger was only a few months old when he died but I believe he had a great time while he was alive and we made lots of memories. I will forever hold him in my heart and remember all of the good times that we had!

Our cat Leo

Year 10 student Sophie was with us for a week’s work experience recently, and decided to write about her beloved Leo, her family’s moggy. Read her story below. 

We got Leo when I was four. We never thought we would get a cat as we had just moved into a house which is right next to a busy road but my mum loves cats so much. The first year Mum would always try to keep Leo in at night so he wouldn’t go wondering, but he soon worked it out and started hiding in the bushes, so Mum couldn’t find him to bring him inside. Leo didn’t seem to be going on the road because he would always be back home the next morning, so we started leaving him outside at night.

Leo was mostly in a playful mood. Even though he passed the kitten stage pretty quickly, he would never give up an opportunity to claw something. You would think he was a playful cat, but in fact, he was mostly scared. He was always hesitant walking through the front door or turning a corner – instead he always liked to be hiding under his favourite bush out in the front yard.

Leo

My beautiful cat Leo

When I turned ten, I started getting bored with Leo and I wanted a dog. I would complain to Mum that Leo wasn’t fun and if we had a dog you could take them on walks and on holidays. When I was eleven we got a dog and named her Lizzie, I was so happy. Lizzie didn’t like Leo but Leo didn’t really care. Leo kept out of the backyard and spent his time inside and out the front, away from Lizzie. I played with Lizzie as much as I could after school. I soon realised as I got older that Lizzie wasn’t as great as I thought she would be. Lizzie would smell, but Leo didn’t. Leo loved cuddles, but Lizzie didn’t. My sister started being great pals with Lizzie and I then went back to loving Leo the most.

On the 23 of January 2015 at 9:11pm (I remember it very clearly) we were watching a movie when mum’s mobile phone rang – it was the local vet. The vet said Leo had been brought in because he had been hit by a car. My mum then asked if she could come and get him the next day (thinking he was OK) but the vet then told mum he didn’t make it. Mum told us what happened and we all started crying. I was then crying for the whole night and the next week.  I couldn’t believe he was gone forever and I would never see him again. It really hurt I didn’t get to say goodbye.

My mum spoke to our neighbours about Leo’s death and they mentioned there had been a dead fox on the road. We now think Leo had been chased by the fox onto the road. I had Leo for eight years and I am glad I have beautiful memories and photos of him. We are not considering getting another cat at the moment but when I am older, have a house of my own and live next to a quiet road I would like to have another cat like Leo.