Sunday, October 7, 2012


Now that we're getting closer to Election Day, the Presidential debates have begun.  These debates usually draw a lot of attention, although perhaps not from everyone.  This "viewer" apparently has decided he's had enough....


Any dog or cat owner who has sat in the waiting room or reception area of a veterinary hospital for any length of time has heard (and seen) a lot of unusual pet stories from other clients waiting with them.  Even if you thought your reason for the visit to the vet was a tad unusual, there almost always seems to be a better story sitting next to you.  Taking this thought one step further, think about the veterinarian who is there seeing clients all day, and you begin to understand why a veterinarian's day usually packs a lot of interesting and unusual pet problems into it.  
Sure, there will be the annual check-ups, vaccination boosters, puppy exams, worm/parasite checks, anal gland cleanings, and nail trims that contribute to the normal ebb and flow of visitors.  However, as important as these visits are to the general overall health of the pets involved and to the veterinary practice, it's the unusual things that make each day different and potentially exciting.
A lot of the unusual nature of veterinary visits occurs because of some type of behavioral pattern that the pet's owner does not comprehend.  And, the rest of the visits are usually related to something the owner either did or shouldn't have done.  How many of these stories have you encountered while sitting in the veterinary hospital waiting room?

The 5 Ws of Weird Dog Behavior

I once knew a woman whose dog loved to eat grass. Now, many dogs love eating grass, but this woman stands out in my memory because she asked all the right questions about her dog's strange behavior. She thought about it, read about it and when she came into my office with the dog, she told me just enough details to make it easy for me to reassure her that her dog was fine.
I get a lot of questions that start with the words "My dog is acting weird..." If you feel your dog is acting out of the ordinary, ask yourself some questions about his behavior. You may be surprised at how much better you understand your dog is you just give a moment to the 5 Ws.
Why is my dog acting "weird?"
This is the main question you're trying to answer. We know our dogs so well that when they start acting even a little out of the ordinary, we notice it. It worries us. But sometimes a dog behaving strangely is not cause for concern and can be explained easily.
What is strange about my dog's behavior?If you only ask yourself one question, ask this one. This is the information you will need to share with your vet, or whoever you turn to for advice. In the case of the woman I mentioned earlier, her dog was not just eating grass: he was gulping it down and then sometimes throwing up afterward. It is this latter part that worried her. Was something in the grass poisoning her dog?
When and where is my dog displaying the strange behavior?
If your usually quiet dog starts whining every time he sees a particular item, you can deduce that the behavior is connected to the item somehow. This is true for many other behaviors. Many times dogs change their behavior when they are stressed out. Excessive yawning, for instance, can mean your dog is feeling anxious. Keeping a close eye on when and where your dog is when he acts strange can help you figure out what is making him act that way.
The grass eating dog's owner noticed that the dog was not picky about where or when he ate grass. But she also noticed that he was only throwing up if he ate it on their morning walk, about half an hour after her dog usually ate. Now that she had all this information, it was time to take it to someone who could help her.
Who can I turn to for help?
First and foremost, you can turn to your vet. Your veterinarian knows a lot about your dog (and about dogs in general, of course!) so he or she should be the first person you go to it you are worried about your dog acting strange. If the information you've gathered about your dog's strange behavior is still worrying, your vet will be able to use that information to come up with a reason for your dogs problem or behavior. Your vet can also check if your dog's strange behavior is caused by something more serious like an illness. 
Tail Chasing in Dogs
By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

Have you ever felt you were "chasing your own tail"? In other words, you're feverishly trying to accomplish something, but actually not getting anything done. The expression, of course, is derived from the seemingly pointless activity that dogs engage in every now and again.
Why do dogs do it? At first, it seemed that this behavior served little purpose and was a mindless, repetitive behavior that helped pass the time. But in the last 10 years, tail chasing has been regarded as a symptom of a compulsive disorder, much like compulsive self-licking. This implies that the dog has some genetic predisposition toward this behavior when in situations of anxiety or conflict. Being classified as a compulsive disorder also means that the activity has its roots in a natural behavior. Furthermore, its label as a compulsive disorder implies that it can be treated with anti-obsession medication, such as fluoxetine (Prozac®).
A Genetic Disposition
Tail chasing tends to be confined to certain breeds, which is evidence in support of a genetic predisposition. One study showed that the vast majority of tail-chasing dogs were of bull terrier or German shepherd lineage. A detailed study of bull terriers suggests that the disorder is transmitted via recessive genes. Although genetic in origin, environmental stress plays an important role in promoting the expression of the disorder. It is quite possible that a susceptible dog may not chase his tail at all if his environment is ideal, and that a dog without the genetic susceptibility may never chase his tail even under the most extreme environmental provocation.
Environmental Influences
Conflict underlies tail chasing in dogs. Conflict can take the form of confinement, social isolation, adversarial situations with people or other animals, and lack of opportunity to perform species-typical behavior. If a susceptible bull terrier is kept crated for many hours a day and deprived of social contact, especially when young, it is quite likely that he may erupt into tail chasing behavior of some level. Conversely, removing an affected dog from a stressful situation may reduce or eliminate the behavior.
The exact expression of tail chasing varies considerably between individuals. Some may only tail chase mildly and with little enthusiasm. Owners may accept an explanation that this is just "normal" behavior for the breed. Other dogs are affected so extremely that they chase their tails practically non-stop, running in tight circles, and snapping at the tips of their tails. Self-injury can result if the dog actually catches his tail. Bull terriers have been known to wear off their back pads by continuous tail chasing as they pivot around on their hind feet. Tail chasers of this degree pause only to grab a mouthful of food or to sleep and are clearly seriously dysfunctional. They seem to have no pleasure or interest in life other than chasing their tails and make poor pets as they display little or no wish for social interactions.
Tail chasing may begin as a "displacement behavior." The dog finds himself in some dilemma he can't resolve, and displaces his anxiety into a behavior that has nothing to do with the problem. Tail chasing is believed to derive from dogs' natural predatory instincts. They may see their tail as something that isn't part of them, and something worth chasing and catching. Chasing the tail may provide dogs some relief from their conflict because it fills a behavioral vacuum.
Tail chasing may start gradually and build up to high pitch or it may begin suddenly at an intense level. The majority of cases start when the dog is pre-pubertal (around 4 or 5 months of age) or adolescent (6 to 9 months of age). Some dogs start suddenly later in life, often as a result of some acute incident of stress. Typical precipitating factors include an incident of trauma to the tail, neuter surgery, or a geographical move. Some dogs start for no apparent reason other than the fact that their freedom is curtailed.
Dogs exhibiting compulsive tail chasing often have other compulsive behaviors. For example, bull terriers may also pace in wide circles or show compulsive behavior towards objects such as tennis balls.
Affected German shepherds often engage in compulsive pacing and circling behavior, too, including running in large figure eights. A tail chaser that is physically prevented from tail chasing is likely to displace into some other repetitive compulsive behavior.
How to Treat Tail Chasing
• Lifestyle enrichment program, including increased exercise, a healthy diet and clear communication with owners.
• Provide the dog increased opportunities to perform species-typical behaviors, particularly chasing and fetching. This can be achieved via various sporting exercises e.g. flyball, Frisbee, long walks through fields, and playing fetch.
• Alleviate oppressive circumstances (e.g. excessive periods of confinement).
• Medication. Any of the human anti-obsessional drugs will likely reduce or sometimes eliminate the tail chasing behavior in dogs. Drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac®), paroxetine (Paxil®), sertraline (Zoloft®), and clomipramine (Clomicalm®) have all been found effective. Unfortunately, these drugs alone are not always effective in tail chasing and sometimes augmentation strategies have to be employed. In German shepherds, the addition of the anti-convulsant, phenobarbital, to an anti-obsessional drug regimen is often helpful.
• Amputation of the tail is almost invariably ineffective in resolving this problem.
You can imagine a pet owner describing this behavior while sitting in the waiting room.  Other pet owners would be thrilled to not have this problem to deal with...but then again, this is just part of another day for the veterinarian.

5 Tips to Stop Your Dog From Digging
How on earth do you stop your dog from digging holes in your garden, lawn and flower bed? The good news is that you don't have to live on a gopher hill. Use these tips to level the playing field!


Pay attention to the obvious. A bored dog will dig for the mere pleasure of expending energy. Exercise your dog, supply him with chew toys, and provide regular activities to deter him from digging. During warm weather, dogs dig for comfort. The earth is cool and they lie on it to reduce body heat. Make sure that your dog has fresh water and shaded rest area. By instinct, dogs will bury bones and treats. When you distribute these goodies, control the food supply and make sure that excess food items are not smuggled into the backyard.

Research the breed before you buy a dog. If you're looking to adopt a dog and you're worried about digger damage, the solution is simple: Do some research and steer clear of breeds that are predisposed to digging. To some degree, all dogs dig, but some breeds are designed for the task, such as Border collies, cairn terriers, dachshunds and basenjis. As a general rule, smart dogs dig out of boredom, rodent hunters dig out of instinct, and bird dogs dig to bury food.

Another unpleasant behavior that most dog owners have had to deal with at one time or another is the dog that loves to jump up against people.  This also prompts many visits to the vet.
Help! The Dog Is Jumping on Guests

This question is about my "granddog," who is a male standard poodle. I adore him and the feeling is mutual. However, to show his affection, he jumps up to greet me, and his 80 pounds makes for a lot of greeting! He often makes me almost lose balance completely, and his paws mark my arms. What can we do without being cruel to curb this behavior?
From:  Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director and Paw Nation's expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch has over 25 years of experience working with dogs, and she is one of fewer than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of 10 books, including the new official book on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know."
It does sound like you have a rambunctious pooch on your hands. The reason your grandpup is jumping is because he's eager to see you and meet visitors, and he has been allowed to do this in the past. The great news is that poodles are fast learners, so with some training sessions at home, your granddog should master good manners soon.
I would suggest this training approach:
Don't Reward the Jumping
 The poodle's reward has been having contact and attention from the person on whom he is jumping. Don't give him this pleasure. If he jumps up, simply turn your body away before he can get his paws on you. Walk away if he persists. Don't talk to him and don't look at him. When he is calm, praise and talk to him using a quiet voice. You are teaching him that jumping won't get him the attention he craves.
Moving from behavioral-type concerns to those closer to the medical part of the spectrum, we have the unusual situation of the "Reverse Sneeze".
Understanding Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Reverse sneezing, also known as paroxysmal respiration or pharyngeal gag reflex, is common in dogs. Reverse sneezing is not actually a sneeze at all. Reverse sneezing is a spasm that occurs when the soft palate and throat become irritated.
Most dogs may develop this problem with age, but some can have this condition their entire lives. Reverse sneezing is not a serious condition, and it rarely requires treatment.
Recognizing Reverse Sneezing
During a spasm, dogs will extend their neck while gasping with a loud, forceful snorting sound. They usually turn their elbows outward and their eyes may bulge. The trachea becomes narrow and it's more difficult to get a normal amount of air into the lungs. The chest expands as the dog tries harder to inhale.
Some owners may think their dog is choking, suffocating or even having a seizure during an episode, as the reverse sneezing may sound like the dog is inhaling sneezes. Each episode usually lasts two minutes or less, and normally end on their own and pose no threat to your dog's health.
Dogs appear normal both before and after an episode, with no after effects. Dogs do not lose consciousness, nor do they collapse. This phenomenon is usually harmless and, in most cases, does not require medical treatment.
Pharyngeal spasms can be caused by various types of irritants and even some dog allergies. Dust, pollen, mites, household chemicals and cleaners, perfumes, viruses, nasal inflammation and post-nasal drip are some causes. Some triggers of reverse sneezing are rapid eating or drinking, exercise intolerance, pulling on the leash and excitement. It's possible that sinusitis and other respiratory disorders cause episodes.
This condition is more common in small dogs, although any breed can experience it. Short-faced breeds such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Boston Terriers and Shih Tzus are more prone to reverse sneezing. A genetic factor is suspected to be involved with these smaller breeds.
Antihistamines are given if allergies are the root problem. Your veterinarian may use drugs if mites are in the laryngeal area.
Gently massaging your dogs throat may help to stop the spasms. Covering the nostrils is sometimes effective because it makes the dog swallow, which can clear out whatever is causing the irration. Try depressing the dog's tongue if the episode does not end quickly, as this will open the mouth and aid in moving air through the nasal passages. Distract your dog by taking him outside for some fresh air. Offer him something to eat or drink.
The nasal passages and throat should be examined by your veterinarian if episodes become more severe or more frequent.
Many of you have either seen this happen to your own dogs or have heard other dog owners describe it, haven't you?  As the description points out, a reverse sneeze is nothing to sneeze at, but usually it's nothing to worry about either.
Weird Stuff Dogs Eat
Owners fill bowls with nutritious food to keep dogs healthy. So why do dogs eat weird, disgusting and even dangerous stuff?
Dogs use their mouths the way we use our hands. They pick up objects and explore their world by mouthing, tasting, and chewing. That sometimes gets them into trouble if they swallow something they shouldn't.
...and it's exactly this behavior that leads to most of the stories you hear abour really unusual things dogs have tried to eat.
The dog that ate 100 rocks -- and lived to bark
about it
And that's just one of many notable edibles that vied for the Hambone Award, which one pet insurer bestows for its most unusual claim.
Pets do the darnedest things, but that’s why we love them. For every shoe that my dog Lulu has destroyed, she also has provided hours of much-needed cuddle time. I still miss those green suede pumps she ate — and it seems that I’m not alone in lamenting lost inventory. Each year, Veterinary Pet Insurance compiles a list of the unusual ingestion claims for its annual Hambone Award. The dubious title honors a dog that got stuck in its owner’s refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham before being discovered. Here are a few notable items consumed last year. In some cases, names have been omitted to protect the guilty.
100 rocks
Harley the pug secured the 2011 Hambone Award after consuming 100 rocks during his stay at a veterinary boarding facility. His owner knew there was a problem when the pooch kept pooping rocks. A visit to the emergency clinic led to the discovery of pebbles clogging Harley’s pipes.
He passed the rocks without requiring surgery, earning a bronze ham-shaped trophy, treats and an emergency pet kit. It’s a good reminder to create your own pet first-aid kit, complete with the number to your nearest after-hours veterinarian.
Dead porcupine
Sometimes dogs like to veer off the beaten trail and find their own adventures. That didn’t disturb pet owner Brian Handwerk until his dog Scooby started throwing up quills, as in potentially fatal porcupine quills. Next time, we recommend stocking up on Scooby snacks.
Package of fluorescent light bulbs
Compact fluorescent bulbs require much less energy than their incandescent counterparts. But consuming a package of these green bulbs isn’t so bright.
Deer antlers
ASPCA dog trainer Kristen Collins recommends investing in a variety of chew toys to promote good dental health and prevent destructive behavior. Even though deer antlers have gained popularity as “green” chew toys, she says that pets should be monitored during playtime.
“Supervise your dog really closely the first few times that she is chewing anything,” she warns, because broken pieces can present a choking hazard. They also can be dangerous if ingested.
A cassette tape
When pet owner William Yunker discovered broken shards of plastic, he knew there was a problem. Dangling under his pointer puppy Rudy’s tail, he discovered evidence of a tune gone horribly wrong. Rudy had managed to eat a cassette tape — and the evidence was working its way out the other end.  Stringy objects such as yarn, shoestrings or cassette tapes can become potentially fatal as they become entangled in a pet’s intestinal tract. Gastrointestinal foreign body issues rank among the top five preventable medical conditions treated at the ASPCA'S Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York. While Rudy’s case did not require surgery, it serves as the perfect cautionary tale to watch pets around bite-size items. Also, maybe it’s time for Yunker to try a digital music format.
One-foot-long metal hanger
Boredom is a common cause for destruction, says animal trainer Kristen Collins of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Mental and physical exercise can keep dogs and cats on the path to good behavior.
She recommends five to 10 minutes of playtime for frisky felines. Interactive toys also keep pets mentally stimulated.
Cellphone case
Train pets to avoid potentially dangerous items. Collins is a proponent of the “drop it” command. If your dog has something it its mouth, say “Drop it” and show a high-value treat. As soon as your dog drops the item, offer praise and give the treat. Repeat this step a few times before moving on to the next stage of saying the command without showing the treat every time.
Since most cats don’t respond to bribery, Collins says it’s important to be vigilant about keeping their environment safe. Remove items they are likely to find chew-worthy and stock up on cat grass or other alternatives.
Dental retainer
If it’s small enough for pets to swallow, it should be placed far beyond their reach. Foreign body ingestion can require costly — and preventable — emergency surgery.
Zinc Toxicity in Dogs
By: Dr. Douglas Brum
Zinc toxicity is a fairly uncommon disorder that is caused by the ingestion of zinc-containing foreign bodies and is most commonly seen in young dogs. Zinc is directly irritating to the stomach lining so it may cause gastrointestinal irritation.
The most common causes of zinc toxicity include ingestion of:
  • Pennies minted after 1982. Pennies minted after 1982 have a significantly higher concentration of zinc than pennies minted in 1982 or before. If the copper coating of the penny is broken, the toxicity is increased since the gastric acid can reach the zinc center of the penny causing a rapid absorption of the zinc.
  • Zinc nuts and bolts, which can be found in transport cages.
  • Galvanized metals
  • Zinc-containing ointments (e.g. zinc oxide ointment)
  • Zinc game pieces from board games
What to Watch For:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
With continued exposure a potentially fatal blood disorder may arise. Zinc interferes with copper and iron utilization in the production of red blood cells. This can lead to a hemolytic anemia in which the red blood cells are destroyed by the body itself since they are abnormal. You will probably notice a pale and often jaundiced (yellow) color to the gums and skin and a brownish, orange color to the urine. High levels of zinc may also cause acute kidney failure.
A toxic dose for a typical dog may be as few as 1 to 3 pennies (50 to 100 mg/kg).  After diagnosing this problem, your veterinarian will need to move quickly on the treatment.
Treatment of zinc toxicity is aimed at removing the initiating cause from the dog's gastrointestinal tract and providing supportive care.
Home Care and Prevention
Optimal treatment requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Administer all prescribed medications, such as penicillamine, as directed by your veterinarian. If there was significant vomiting or diarrhea, you may need to give your pet a bland diet to help restore normal bowel function.
Follow up appointments may be required to monitor the blood for improvement of anemia. However, you should expect continued improvement at home. If your dog is not improving, you should contact your veterinarian to arrange for a further evaluation.
You can prevent zinc toxicity by prevent exposure to any zinc-containing objects. Put coins safely away in areas inaccessible to animals, and do not encourage or allow animals to chew on their travel cages.
If you think you dog has eaten any zinc containing items, contact your veterinarian. He or she might recommend that vomiting be induced. Prompt treatment may prevent more serious illness in the future.
How many of you even knew this could be a problem?  Bet a lot of you have pennies laying around the house or in your car...right where your dog could pick them up.
This story truly qualifies as being "Very Unusual"....
Local Vet Comes To The Rescue After Woman
 Finds Cat Shot With Arrow
TEMPLE, TX (October 3, 2012)—A cat that survived for at least three days without food and water after someone shot an arrow through its nose was recovering Wednesday, thanks to a Temple woman and the veterinarian to whom she went for help.  The arrow entered the cat’s right nostril, went through the roof of its mouth, knocked out a fang, split the tongue and left a hole in the animal’s throat, neck and side, said Temple veterinarian Dr. Keith Gudgel.
Salon worker Christine Schiller found the cat in the parking lot when she arrived Tuesday morning for work at Styles and Files at 2215 Airport Rd.  "It took me a few moments to realize what it was an arrow in its mouth," Schiller said.
She walked to the nearby Temple Veterinary Hospital of Western Hills at 2312 West Adams Ave. and moments later returned with Gudgel.  They found the cat stuck between some brushes, removed it and took it to the Gudgel’s clinic.

"In my 22 years as a vet, I've never seen anything this dramatic," said Gudgel, a 1968 Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine graduate and Army veteran who’s practiced at Western Hills for more than two decades.  Gudgel removed the arrow and treated the wounds, from which the cat is expected to recover.  "God's got other plans for this kitty,” he said.
The cat, which has been nicknamed “Arrow Kitty,” was resting Wednesday night after undergoing additional surgery.
The cat’s story captured the hearts of local animal lovers, some of whom have stopped buy to visit, make donations and add their names to the list of those who’d like to adopt "Arrow Kitty."
The last "Unusual" visit to the vet would most likely set  tongues wagging for those sitting in the waiting room....
Colorado Vets See Spike In Cases Of
DENVER (CBS4) – The popularity of medical marijuana in Colorado has had an unintended side effect — dogs getting stoned, sometimes with deadly results.

Some people firmly believe that if medical marijuana helps people, it also helps their pets, but that’s not always the case. Marijuana can be harmful and sometimes toxic for dogs. New research shows medical marijuana, the number of dogs getting sick from pot is spiking.
“They basically have lost a lot of their fine motor control, they have a wide-based stance and they are not sure on their feet,” said Dr. Debbie Van Pelt of VRCC, the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Englewood.
Vets say they used to see dogs high on marijuana just a few times a year. Now pet owners bring in doped-up dogs as many as five times a week.
“There are huge spikes in the frequency of marijuana ingestion in places where it’s become legal,” Van Pelt said.
Colorado is one of those places.  Most of the time veterinarians say dogs get the medical marijuana by eating their owners food products that are laced with marijuana that were left out in the open. More and more dispensaries sell those kinds of products.
“I just want dogs, kids to be safe. It needs to be treated like any other drug. If you came home with a prescription of vicodin from your doctor you wouldn’t just leave it sitting there,” veterinarian Dr. Stacy Meola said.
Meola is a veterinarian at a Wheat Ridge clinic. She coordinated a five-year study that shows the number of dogs sickened by marijuana has quadrupled in Colorado since medical marijuana was legalized. Most dogs survive, but not all.
“Two dogs, however, got into baked goods with medical grade marijuana butter in it, which presumably seems to be more toxic to the dogs, so we did have two deaths,” Meola said.
That’s the exception. Most of the time the dogs will end up showing symptoms such as staggering, acting lethargic, vomiting, and being overly sensitive to sound and light. Sometimes they fall into a coma. It’s the doggie equivalent of a “bad trip.” After treatment most are back to normal within 24 hours.
While many dog owners think it’s funny to get their dogs stoned and have posted videos of their stoned dogs, Colorado veterinarians say there’s nothing funny about dogs on dope.
“We need people to realize it is potentially toxic and potentially fatal to their pets,” Van Pelt said.
Veterinarians say frequently when the sick dogs come in, their owners are reluctant to admit medical marijuana might have been the cause. They say if that’s a possible factor, tell the vet right away and they can more quickly treat the dog.
As the Beatles song goes, "...a day in the life".

As usual, any questions or comments can be sent to:  or posted in the comment section below.
The Ohio State Buckeyes jumped all over Nebraska, after a slow start, last night.  Scoring 63 points, we got revenge for last year's loss to the Cornhuskers and stayed unbeaten in the process.  Go Bucks!
The Pittsburgh Steelers had to come from behind, by kicking a field goal, with only 3 seconds remaining to beat the Philadelphia Eagles today.  That evens our record at 2-2 and keeps us close behind the Ravens.  However, we'll still have to play better than we did today.
Helpful Buckeye and a good friend took a long bike ride through part of the Coconino National Forest this past week which included a stopover at Fisher impressive view.  It was a perfect fall day and we saw a lot of beautiful deciduous leaf colors among the conifers.

Saw my first tarantula of the fall season on Saturday while bike riding.  The males are out and about, looking for a welcoming female.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye got a good head start on OktoberFest activities this past week with brats, sauerkraut, and polka music (courtesy of Frankie Yankovic and the Yanks).  We've got plans for at least 2 more versions before the end of the month!
For the popular rendition of The Pennsylvania Polka, as heard in the movie Groundhog Day, go to:

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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