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By Dave Jaffe

(Continuing Grooming Tips: Best Practices for You, Your Dog, and Your Fingers, we now move on to shampooing, Lord help us! dj)

Understanding the challenges of bath time, the pet care industry has developed an array of shampoo products that ease the torment faced by your dog and the unpaid college intern you’ve assigned to the task. The most appropriate soap should be one formulated to lather well while convincing your dog that he’s done nothing wrong.

The industry trend is away from products fortified with unnecessary additives and a return to a more natural bathing experience. “Natural”, of course, does not mean primitive, such as the pet-grooming customs practiced by America’s early settlers. A strict, taciturn people, they bathed their equally strict, taciturn dogs by heaving them in the river, then slamming them on rocks until dry. (Historical note: This gave rise to the once popular expression, “As worthless as a hound heaved in the river and slammed with rocks. Prithee!”)

Today’s fur care products are rich in healthful emollients beneficial for a dog’s sensitive skin. Unnecessary additives have been removed from most shampoos, which are now marketed as “Fragrance Free for Twice that Wet Dog Smell!” Liberal applications during bathing result in a coat that is lustrously moisturized, as well as strict and taciturn.

And because canine coats vary widely, a range of shampoos specifically formulated for different fur textures are available – from soft-coated like an English sheepdog, to thick-, rough-, heavy-coated like an English sheepdog wearing a thick, rough, heavy coat. Possibly tweed.

Bathing tip: Use enough shampoo so that when rinsed, your dog has become an entirely different breed.

Bathing tip: Use enough shampoo so that when rinsed, your dog has become an entirely different breed.

Faced, then, with such a variety of products, how does the conscientious pet owner make an informed choice?

While professional groomers, veterinarians, and my therapist might disagree, I base my selection exclusively on the dog that’s pictured on the label.

Many consumers are drawn to product labels that feature a widely smiling dog. That is a mistake. Dogs don’t really smile. And certainly not as though they’re eager contestants in the evening gown competition. A dog’s smile can mean many things: “I am submissive” or “I am aggressive,” or “Wow! Look what I threw up!”

Rarely does it mean, “Rub detergent in my eyes!” Do not be influenced by the smile.

Likewise, avoid labels that feature a cartoon canine, even those dressed in evening wear. Why, we wonder, couldn’t the marketing department come up with a real dog? Is there a problem with the shampoo? Did none survive clinical trials? Shouldn’t that be on the label?: “May cause melting.” If so, that’s a concern.

What I look for on a shampoo label is a picture of a real dog that is clearly insane – the canine equivalent of Nicholson through the door with an ax; an arch villain the Batman locked away in Arkham; a Packers fan in a Chicago bar. This is the proof I need that the product can successfully be applied to the most dangerous, criminally insane.

Like Budleigh, who has been standing in the sink, wet and shivering, for quite a few paragraphs.

On paper, lathering a wet dog seems a pretty straight-forward process. Liberally apply shampoo to the body, then using the fingers you like least, massage shampoo into the fur, beginning at the neck, and moving downward toward the “business end” of the dog.

A note about this “business end.” As all dog owners know, canines lick themselves – an entirely natural, self-cleaning behavior that veterinarians refer to as “disgusting”, although probably not in the waiting room. The causes of excessive licking can be behavioral or medical, so scrutiny by a vet is a good idea.

Saint Brisby, our gentle, obedient schnoodle, sometimes licks his business end with the attention of someone doing a particularly difficult crossword puzzle. After an examination, our vet explained that Brisby’s business-end glands were impacted, a common occurrence in dogs, which could be relieved by moving him to the more expensive business-end glands de-impactor room in back.

If you know nothing about impacted dog business-end glands, trust me, it is well worth the price to have the problem remedied by a professional who also takes the time to explain the process while you stuff your fingers deep in your ears and loudly sing Battle Hymn of the Republic until he’s left the room.

Fortunately, Budleigh isn’t suffering from this or any other malady except for being a terrier, so The Lathering can begin. Provided all parties can agree on the removal of his collar.

Budleigh, readers might recall, has a “thing” about his collar. He prefers to keep it close much the way a sailor knocked overboard into shark-infested waters during a storm at night likes to keep his life jacket close.

Like many sovereign nations, the Republic of Budleigh stubbornly resists interference with his collar by foreign influences except during periods of civil unrest and bath time. However, thanks to an accord reached through marathon negotiations between me, Budleigh, and the International Atomic Energy Commission, access will be granted provided that specific protocols are followed:

1. Budleigh, and all contiguous territories know as Budleigh, will be referred to as “A Good Dog!” And in certain cases, “A Very, Very Good Dog!”
2. No yelling.
3. In exchange for safe passage, foreign diplomats will present a cookie to those regions of the Republic of Budleigh designated as his mouth.
4. While the Republic of Budleigh is distracted, the collar may be removed.
5. The collar will then be presented to Budleigh who will hold it securely between his teeth until the universe ends or it is returned to his neck.
6. Processing of all fissionable materials will cease immediately.

So now, with collar safely in Budleigh’s death grip, fur fully saturated, a fresh bottle of Psycho Pup™ Shampoo and Conditioner at the ready, and Brisby standing by to lend his “support”, we are, at last, prepared to lather up!

GIANT 1: “Who’s ready for his bath? Budleigh’s ready for his bath!”

BUDLEIGH: “I need to see your visa.”

GIANT 1: “What a Good Dog! I’m just going to unhook your collar—”

BUDLEIGH: “Unhand that symbol of my people’s oppression! Guards! Guards!”

BRISBY: “Yes, well, I’m just going to head upstairs to meet with the Security Council under the bed in the dark behind the duvet.”

BUDLEIGH: “But he’s removing my emblem of office, yet has offered me nothing!”

BRISBY: “You have my compete support!”

GIANT 1: “Budleigh’s a Very, Very Good Dog!”

BUDLEIGH: “Don’t touch that! Do our laws, our history, our fissionable materials mean nothing to you? Well, we will fight. Oh yes, fight you to the very gates of our mouth! And when one tooth falls, 10 shall spring up in its place! And rivers of patriots’ blood will—”

GIANT 1: “Who wants a cookie?”

BUDLEIGH: “I love you!”

GIANT 1: “Now hold your collar while I soap you up. Ohhhh, so clean and beautiful! Doesn’t that feel good?”

BUDLEIGH: (Dreamily) “Fissionable materials…”

GIANT 1: “Oh, yes you are! So Very, Very Good! Now we rinse. Aaaand you’re done! That wasn’t so bad.”

GIANT 2: (Carrying Brisby) “Look who I found upstairs under the bed in the dark wrapped in our duvet.”

BUDLEIGH: “Traitor!”

GIANT 1: “Perfect timing. Dump him in.”

BRISBY: “Unhand me, you filthy dogs! I am the Prime Minister of The United Brisby Emirates!”

###

Next post: The Drying Game

###

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

Anyone who has safely landed a powered aircraft in severe weather without the benefit of instrumentation, aircrew or their vision has all the skills needed to successfully groom a dog.

Proper grooming provides numerous benefits for your pet beyond good health. A lustrous coat, healthy gums, and skin free of tics and dirt has catapulted many dogs into high-paying jobs as television news anchors. It’s commonly acknowledged that multi-talented journalist George Stephanopoulos began his broadcast career as a matted border collie.

Yet, many dogs balk when it comes to bathing, brushing, nail clipping or cleaning between the facial folds of certain breeds. And by the way, somebody really needs to come up with a name for that last bit because I never again want to write “cleaning between the facial folds.”

Regardless of size, breed or temperament, all dogs have their own idiosyncratic responses to being groomed, most of which involve biting me. Our formerly alive terrier, Oxford, seemed convinced that biting me was part of the grooming process. Even if someone else groomed him and I was out of town.

GIANT 1: “Hi, family! I’m home from Cleveland.”

GIANT 2: “Oh Dave! I missed you!”

LI’L GIANTS 1.1 and 1.2: “Daddy! What’ja bring us?”

OXFORD: “Look! I’m clean! (CHOMP!)

Grooming needn’t be traumatic for your pet. With just a bit of forethought, the proper supplies, and a few practical techniques, you can enhance your dog’s grooming experience and reduce the risk he’ll bite me.

Bathing Tip: Is your sink the right size for your dog? Not if his paws are in the garbage disposal. (Music swells) The More you Know….

Bathing Tip: Is your sink the right size for your dog? Not if his paws are in the garbage disposal. (Music swells) The More you Know….

Bathing: Nature’s way of convincing dogs we hate them

The web site of the ASPCS – an acronym for North American Free Trade Agreement –“recommends bathing your dog at least once every three months.”

From this wording, it’s not clear whether the ASPCA is offering to bath your dog once every three months, but God, let’s hope so!

The sentence goes on to note – and yes, we’re still working on that same sentence, so go get yourself coffee and a maybe a danish – that “some [dogs] may require more frequent baths if he or she spends a lot of time outdoors or has skin problems.”

This would seem to encompass a group of dogs that includes all dogs, which, if the ASPCA makes good on their promise to wash everyone’s pup, might severely tax their resources.

How often you bathe your dog is, of course, a personal and deeply religious matter between you, your dog, and your God, and your dog’s God. Wisely, the ASPCA and many other pet advice web sites offer dog owners a series of “how to” steps that are both helpful and non-sectarian.

Begin by giving your dog a good brushing to remove dead hair, mats, loose change, smaller dogs, and other debris. What constitutes a “good brushing” is open to interpretation and is much debated between breeds during their conclaves at dog parks.

LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “I like being brushed! He lets me get the comb. Then he lets me get the brush. And sometimes I bring him the comb AND the brush, ‘cause I can do that! And I bring him the ball. Then I bring him the ball again. And then again. And I—ˮ

PUG: “Why is your breed popular? I just don’t get it. Am I missing something?”

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Well now, he raises a good point. And so do you. So does everyone. I love you all. I’m a good boy!”

TERRIER MUTT: “Gimme that!”

PUG: “What?”

TERRIER MUTT: “I don’t know. But if you have anything, give it to me! Now!”

LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “—but I can’t bring the ball AND the comb AND the brush. So I leave the comb, but I bring the bush. Then I go get the ball, but he really wants the brush. So I—ˮ

TERRIER MUTT: “Shut up! Shut UP! Gimme the thing! And the other thing! And all your other things! Now! Gimme NOW!”

PUG: (To water spaniel) “What is his problem? Is he here every day?”

WATER SPANIEL: “You think it’s gonna rain? Looks like rain. Boy, I hope it rains.”

After brushing, put your dog in a sink or tub filled with about three-to-four inches of lukewarm water. Then depending on the animal’s bulk, wet it down using a hand sprayer, large plastic pitcher, or appropriately-sized piece of firefighting apparatus.

It is often at this stage that your dog will bite me. This is not their fault. It’s just the way that their brains are wired. Dogs in a bath are much like rock concert attendees who got their hands on some bad shit. They are alternately euphoric and paranoid. Take, for example, the typical bathing experience of our terrier thing, Budleigh.

GIANT 1: (To Budleigh, standing calmly in the sink.) “What a good Budleigh! Isn’t this nice and warm? Best boy!”

BUDLEIGH: “It’s all so beautiful, man! All the light…”

GIANT 1: “That’s right. Nice and calm. Now we’re just going to spray your coat.”

BUDLEIGH: “I can taste the colors. I’m floating … floating on a soft cloud of—Holy Shit! What is that thing?”

GIANT 1: “It’s ok. Just the hand sprayer—”

BUDLEIGH: “It’s a demon! A deeemoooon! It’s gonna swallow the world!”

GIANT 1: “Ow! Shhhh… It’s ok. You’re ok. Doesn’t that feel nice and toasty warm?”

BUDLEIGH: “I love you! I’m floating. Paul is the Walrus!”

GIANT 1: “Good Budleigh! Nice Budleigh. Gentle Budleigh. Ow! You son of a bitch!”

BUDLEIGH: “Oh, you’re real? My mistake.”

Shampoo is now applied, and if your dog wasn’t in a good mood before, life’s not about to improve.
###

Next post: The Lathering

###

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

[This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series that explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.]

In a perfect world, dogs don’t sleep on the bed. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in Budleigh’s.

GIANT 1: “Honey, wake up! WakeupWakeupWakeupWakeupWakeup!”

GIANT 2: “Dave! What?”

GIANT 1: “Budleigh’s whining.”

GIANT 2: “So you woke me?”

GIANT 1: “He’s in his crate. Alone. In the kitchen. What else was I to do?”

BUDLEIGH: (Distantly) “I’m innocent!”

GIANT 2: “Well, you’re a grownup. Go fix it.”

BUDLEIGH: “I’ve done nothing! You have the wrong dog!”

GIANT 1: “But if I go, he’ll mark me as a sucker. You go. He doesn’t like you.”

GIANT 2: “What is that supposed to mean? Of course he likes me!”

GIANT 1: “Not like like. He senses that you have an agenda.”

BUDLEIGH: “I smell gas! I can’t breathe!”

GIANT 2: “Dave, I walk him. I feed him. I brush his coat. For God’s sake, I brush his teeth when I can get near them—ˮ

GIANT 1: “Sounding like an agenda.”

BUDLEIGH: “I can be a credit to the pack. I hunt! I kill without remorse! I’m terrier strong!”

GIANT 2: “Well, since he already hates me—ˮ

GIANT 1: “No one said ‘hate’—ˮ

GIANT 2: “—you go let him out. You two have a little doggie party at 3 a.m. and drink shots, and get tattoos. I’m going back to sleep.”

BUDLEIGH: “Damn your agendas!”

Allowing your dog to share the bed is no minor concession. Unless limits are clearly established, your dog can be quite demanding. In the case of a terrier, such demands are like those the Pharaoh made of the ancient Hebrews: “Do as I command or face destruction!” Coincidentally, that’s also the campaign platform of three Republican presidential candidates.

Before making any changes to sleeping arrangements, gauge your willingness to accommodate a dog by asking yourself a number of probing questions, most of which begin, “Why does this God damn dog…”

How big is my dog going to grow compared with how big I’m going to grow?

With most breeds, it’s fairly simple to estimate the limits of their full growth. But mixed-breed rescue dogs like Budleigh are unknowns. With proper nutrition, their growth is limited only by the combined military’s ability to destroy them. (See Clifford, the Big Red Menace.)

Like most dogs, Budleigh can increase his mass at will by absorbing nitrogen atoms from the atmosphere – a process called Science.

Like most dogs, Budleigh can increase his mass at will by absorbing nitrogen atoms from the atmosphere – a process called Science.

However, knowing that Budleigh is some sort of terrier thing made us confident that he wouldn’t grow any larger than a Mini Cooper. When our veterinarian first inspected young Budleigh, I asked him to predict his adult size. The vet spread Budleigh’s paw, caressed his ears, scratched his neck.

“25, maybe 30 pounds,” he snapped with the confidence of a carny worker.

“Just like that, you can tell? Don’t you have to, I don’t know, cut off his tail and count the rings?”

NOTE: Don’t joke with veterinarians about cutting off a dog’s tail. They look at you sternly and you don’t get the free doggie toothbrush.

By the age of two Budleigh reached his full size and weight – around 27 pounds, much of that from shoe leather. Because of his compact size and the maturity he had demonstrated except around shoes, we decided to allow him to sleep with us on a probationary basis pending the approval of Brisby, our bed’s canine union shop steward.

Brisby rubber stamped our decision, which he always does, especially during an election year and Budleigh joined us on the bed.

So I’m sleeping here. Then there’s this dog, And way over there’s my wife. That ain’t gonna fly, if you know what I mean. Any advice?

I’m not sure that I understand what you’re…Oh! Ohhhhhh! (Nervously tugging at shirt coller.) Okay. Okay, let’s talk about dog…uh…positioning, shall we?

In repose, dogs tend to encroach on their owner’s space in much the same way that the larval Alien creature “encroaches” on their victim’s stomach lining.

Animal behaviorists recommend either of two responses: Correct through training or give up. As a dog owner and pack leader, you’ve a responsibility to devote the time and attention needed to correct through training, then give up.

Training our formerly alive and exceptionally bright terrier Oxford was simple. He curled up at the foot of our bed, then when Denise fell asleep, he stealthily moved up and snuggled all night against her back. Not my back. So, problem solved!

Brisby was a different challenge. A student of Mahatma Gandhi and schooled in the tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience, he’d lie between us, then go utterly limp when we, or several hardy police officers, attempted to move him.

Though no bigger than Budleigh, Brisby could, through some complex rule of physics, increase his mass by 400 percent. Lifting him was like hoisting a locomotive with several cars still attached and drooping onto the track.

Gently but firmly pushing him worked no better. His neck would bend until his head was in danger of snapping its moorings. Guilt outweighed our comfort.

“He’s like a superfluid,” claimed my son, a mechanical engineer, as he once struggled to raise Brisby a foot above the bed. “He’s flowing through my fingers, then reforming out of a pool of dog.”

Eventually, Brisby claimed the foot of the bed as his own, probably annoyed that Denise and I radiated too much heat.

I’m not sure that constitutes training.

Budleigh sleeps between us giants. Training goes slowly.

GIANT 1: “OK, Budleigh boy! Time to move for nite-nite! Come! Come! Come!”

BUDLEIGH: “No, I’m good!”

GIANT 1: “ComeComeComeComeComeComeComeCome!”

GIANT 2: “Show him the cookie, Dave.”

GIANT 1: “He sees the cookie. He’s looking right at the cookie! Cookie, Budleigh!”

BUDLEIGH: “Any shoes?”

GIANT 1: “Give him a little push, Hon. Get him started.”

BRISBY. “Go limp, you fool! Go limp!”

GIANT 2: “I can’t move him. What’s he made of, depleted uranium?”

GIANT 1: “Budleigh! ComeComeComeCome!”

GIANT 2: “CookieCookieCookieCookie!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shoe? Shoe? Shoe? Shoe?”

BRISBY: “Keep hope alive, brother! I’m callin’ a strike vote!”

I call my terrier “Edgar Rice” because he “burrows” under the covers. Get it? See what I did there? Anyway, I could kill him.

Because of their tenacious demeanor, killing a terrier is at best a temporary solution and usually just irritates them. Better to understand the basis of this all-too-common burrowing behavior and take comfort knowing that even the most determined diggers will stop before reaching the Earth’s core.

Behavioristically speaking – which is best done in a stilted, British accent while polishing wire-rim spectacles – certain canine breeds are small-prey hunters. Digging into narrow tunnels to flush out rodents is wired into the very genetic code of terriers, dachshunds and, sadly, my Aunt Carla who, to her credit, kept an amazingly tidy pantry.

Convincing Budleigh that there are relatively few rodents in our bed and that those are strictly controlled is hopeless. Instinct rules. And if no vermin are to be found, at least he can take comfort buried in a confining space under 20 lbs. of bed linens without light and a dwindling air supply.

GIANT 2: “Dave, is that your cold foot? For the sake of God, please tell me that’s your cold, slightly moist, snoring foot.”

GIANT 1: “Hon, I’m in the bathroom.”

GIANT 2: “Ewwwww! Budleigh’s under the covers!”

GIANT 1: “I know. He’s been there for hours.”

BUDLEIGH: “Good news! No rats.”

GIANT 2: “Do you think it’s safe? Can he breathe?”

GIANT 1: “Yeah, I worry about that, too. Maybe we should put a canary down there?”

GIANT 2: “That’s a good plan, Dave. And maybe a little camp stove.”

GIANT 1: “And a portable generator with big, doggie-friendly rubber buttons.”

GIANT 2: “And an emergency whistle—ˮ

GIANT 1: “And a self-sustaining potato crop—ˮ

GIANT 2: “And Matt Damon!”

GIANT 1: “Naw! Budleigh’s black. The Academy will just snub him.”

BUDLEIGH: “Shoes! Don’t forget shoes!”

When a young dog permanently leaves his crate to take his place on the family bed, it is a cause for celebration much like a Bar Mitzvah.

“Today I am a Man,” they proclaim. “Only, you know, a Dog.”

And finally, until it’s needed again your dog’s cumbersome, old crate can be safely stored away. Under the covers at the foot of your bed next to the camp stove.

###

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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We rescued a terrier, although why anyone would is beyond me.

Terriers are what dingos strive to be – wild dogs semi-domesticated because there’s something in it for them. Terriers are the The Joker of the animal kingdom.

Yet my wife and I chose a terrier. We felt obliged to our formerly alive terrier, Oxford, a young thug who matured into a dignified, coldly ruthless mob leader lacking only a fedora and Miami tan. His rule was paternal, loyal but arrogant. He passed away to a kidney ailment although he’d have preferred withering under police machine gun fire in a Chicago alley.

He left behind his muscle, Brisby, a German schnauzer-French poodle mix ever at odds with himself. Now with no one to guide him except a couple of pet owners who just didn’t “get me”, Brisby risked succumbing to a lifestyle of violence, drug addiction and madness.

So we got him another little thug.

Choosing to adopt a homeless dog is not an easy decision, and frankly, Sarah McLachlan isn’t helping. It’s not that I don’t want to rescue an abused animal that’s pretty much just a snout, a collar and half a paw. I just don’t have the emotional strength. I’ve always acquired my dogs from well-established, responsible breeders that I’ve never heard of except afterwards when they appear on the national news.

Going the shelter route was our way of giving back to the community without actually giving anything back. The dogs are bargain priced to move. Our veterinarian offers a steep discount on the initial checkup. Friends and family treat us like heroic characters from a Dickens novel.

And with relatively little effort we located a very social, black and white, cow-eyed terrier, about a year old. We bonded immediately, brought him into our fold, and within weeks he’d hacked our passwords and begun siphoning our accounts. But he was housebroken.

Terriers, like Budleigh, are energetic dogs that, with the proper diet and training, can vibrate through walls.

Terriers, like Budleigh, are energetic dogs that, with the proper diet and training, can vibrate through walls.

April 30 is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day – a significant holiday that falls between Hairball Awareness Day and International Turtle Day. Our new terrier, Budleigh, has enriched all facets of our lives, with the exception of footwear. For those considering adopting a shelter dog, here are a few tips to make the transition easier:

1. All shelters name their dogs “Bandit”. No one knows why. It’s ok to change it.

2. Like Congress, not all shelter dogs are housebroken. This is easily managed with a pooper scooper and an educated, informed electorate.

3. There really is a Hairball Awareness Day.

4. Acquaint yourself with the many dog breeds so you know what to expect.
Retrievers, for example, make excellent companions but have become so popular that our nation is rapidly running out of things to retrieve.

5. Ensure an ideal match by carefully evaluating a shelter dog’s behavior when you first meet. Is he wiggly and licky or does he just hand you a business card? The former might be great with children, the latter a potential corporate investor.

Like many first-time adopters, my wife and I feared we’d be overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising a rescue dog. Yet, Budleigh, now in his fifth month with us, has proved no more a challenge than if we’d both pursued medical degrees.

All dogs want is to love their people and fit into the pack. Dog owners just need to commit a bit of time and patience and they’ll be rewarded with a wiggly, licky, devoted little buddy, or at very least a reliable corporate investor.

dj

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