The Back Yard Zoo by Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap     One of the greatest joys I get from my classroom presentations are the questions and stories from my students. When I started visiting classrooms with my animals twenty years ago I remember how frustrating it was to have one-hundred twenty students, all with questions and stories, and because of time and attention span requirements, I could respond to only a fraction of them. That is when I began requesting written inquiry and information to be sent to me in the school mail. I love to throw in the fact that there are questions I will not answer unless there are complete sentences, correct spelling, punctuation, and neatness. Over the years I have gotten some doozie questions all the way from my age and what I had for breakfast to marriage proposals from first graders!

     I have maintained a lifelong "thing" with cats. I will not get myself in trouble by elaborating, but this story brought out some real feelings on my part. The author is Allison Giddens, a fourth grade student in Miss Browning's class at Aldridge Elementary School. I can not do it justice by synopsizing so here it is in full.

     "Dear Mr. Dunlap, My friend Emily has a cat named Leo. Leo is cute. Leo is an outside cat. When Leo came into the house to rest he saw that the washer door was open. So Leo decided to go in because there was some clothes in it. When my friend's mom came back she started the washer. When the wash was done my friend's mom took out all the clothes and Leo. Leo was sleepy for about 3 or 4 days. He couldn't be picked up. He was really soft though. He also recovered. Love, Allison G." Cats. What can I say!

Jim Dunlap,

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