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Hi everyone,

I would like some advice on deciding if German Shepherds are right for me.

I won't be getting one until at least the end of 2014 so I am in no hurry to make any decisions.

So the first thing I'm not sure about is if a GSD will be too big for my current dog. I don't have any experience with large dogs and currently own a little dog. My dog, Holly, will be 2 at the end of September. She weighs 6.4kgs, so she's little.
Will a GSD be ok with such a small dog?
Will Holly teach it to play too roughly while it's small so that when it's big she can't cope with it?
At the moment Holly is fine with big dogs that arn't too rough. She has played with one adult male GSD before and it was fine (the owner put it back on lead before it got too rough though) and her best friend is a labX that rolls on his back so she can jump on his face :laugh:.

Secondly, would a GSD be "too much dog" for me?
It seems that they require an "experienced" owner. How do I know if I'm experienced enough? I feel like I am, but how do I know for sure that I can handle such a large powerful dog when I only have experience with a small (powerful :p) dog?

At the moment I do agility, obedience and rally-o with Holly (and will go for her CGC within the next two months).
I hope any GSD I get will at least be capable of doing this too (and more).

This leads to the next question: What sort of lines should I be looking at to get a dog that can do everything I want to do? I like the look and sound of working lines but they might have too much drive (I've never met one in person though), if I got a show line would it be capable (physically and mentally) of doing what I want? (the one Holly played with did not seem capable).

I haven't seen any GSD at any of the agility events I have been to so far, and I don't think they are popular for obedience here either, I will keep a look out when I start competing Holly in September though.
It's also very important that it has a good temperament as well as ability. Really stable and confident.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially from any one who started with a little dog and introduced a GSD (or other large dog).
 

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If you want a GSD you should get a puppy so you can teach him/her obedience I got my GSD at 3 months for about a year he would tear up the trash whatever he would see he would tear up and eat he even ate my brother in laws military retirement papers and awards.but he stopped after we told him no bad dog and had him sit outside for ten minutes. he is very well trained shakes my hand rolls over sits lays down gets newspaper and bows. As for big they are very big I feed my dog twice a day and even after that there still hungry I go through a $30 bag of dog food for 4 weeks. I had a pug when I bought my GSD and they got along great they are the best of friends. You have to give it time though. And for expirence of you've had a dog before and no how to properly take care of them they should be fine. :)


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OP, it sounds like you are already involved in a few dog sport activities with your little dog. So you already have an idea of training, and you have connections to your local dog community. And that it a good thing.

A GSD will have a pretty hefty exercise requirement. They are not happy with just a quick walk once or twice a day. Ask yourself if you really and truly have the time for that. A lot of your training can be done while you're exercising, but dogs also need some mindless exercise, too.

I think a great breeder will be able to give you a good dog, regardless of line. So discover the line you like best and then find a top notch breeder. Since you have some sport venues in mind already, talk to people and ask them which breeders are producing the dogs that are already doing the sports you are interested. There are good dogs in every line, so don't limit yourself! My showline is almost too drivey and I have seen working line dogs that had no drive.

A GSD can certainly live with little dogs. Look for a breeder whose adult dogs live with little dogs successfully. However, be aware that this is a breed that plays rough and noisy. Lots of teeth and sound. Be prepared for that. And always, always supervise closely. The size difference alone, and the rough and tumble play style, makes it important that you keep a close eye on the dogs. I would not leave them loose together when you're not there. Not because the GSD is inherently aggressive, but because accidents happen.

I don't believe that the GSD is a breed for everyone. They can be difficult to raise properly and they need a lot more than many casual owners are aware of when they first bring one home. It can take effort and a whole lot of time to find a well breed GSD, and many people aren't willing to make the effort and be patient when a "pure bread" can be found for a few hundred on Craigslist.

BUT! When you get a good dog? And you put in the time and effort into training and exercising and socializing? The sky is the limit.
Sheilah
 

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*** *** *** ***
IS A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG RIGHT FOR YOU?
*** *** *** ***

German Shepherds shed a lot. If having dog hair flying around you house bothers you then, you definitely should not consider getting a German shepherd. They shed continuously, as well as blow all their undercoat at least twice a year, spring and fall. To help with this, they should be brushed regularly, but this will still not stop the fur balls from collecting everywhere.

German Shepherd is a large breed, and a very energetic one. They require daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They do not do well confined to a dog run or yard on their own all day, every day. They are very devoted to their family members, and much prefers to be with them every waking moment, rather than shut away on their own.

If you are going to be gone for long periods of time and do not have time for training and playing that the GSD needs, then please consider another breed of dog. German Shepherd Dogs do NOT do well as outside dogs left in kennels with little or no attention, nor do they do well sitting out on a chain all day, just being fed twice a day, with little human contact. They love people, and they want to be with people. The more time you spend with your GSD, the better he will get. A GSD left for long periods of time will quickly become a nuisance barker, digger and chewer.

They require obedience training, basic commands and house manners. German Shepherds are a very powerful breed, and unless taught to walk nicely on a lead, they can drag their owner on quite a tour of the neighborhood, Obedience training should also include socialization, with other animals and with humans.

German Shepherds are very intelligent dogs, and require a firm handler. This does NOT mean an abusive handler but, rather, one that will confidently take his/her place as pack leader (there is a BIG difference). German Shepherds need a job to do, and if left to their own devices too often, they will create their own enjoyment, which could be eating your furniture, digging up your back yard, or barking non-stop all day long.

Remember, the GSD is big dog, an active dog, a working dog, and a loyal dog. So if you don?t mind a little extra vacuuming and extra time spent on your dog, then in return you will have a wonderful friend and companion.
 

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if you have the money and time to devote to the dog you're
going to have a well trained, highly socialized dog. good luck
with your new pup.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If you want a GSD you should get a puppy so you can teach him/her obedience I got my GSD at 3 months for about a year he would tear up the trash whatever he would see he would tear up and eat he even ate my brother in laws military retirement papers and awards.but he stopped after we told him no bad dog and had him sit outside for ten minutes. he is very well trained shakes my hand rolls over sits lays down gets newspaper and bows. As for big they are very big I feed my dog twice a day and even after that there still hungry I go through a $30 bag of dog food for 4 weeks. I had a pug when I bought my GSD and they got along great they are the best of friends. You have to give it time though. And for expirence of you've had a dog before and no how to properly take care of them they should be fine. :)


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I would get a puppy. Your dog sounds like Holly. She was not an easy puppy (still isn't). Despite her size she is not a lap dog (she does show affection in her own way but doesn't really like cuddles).
I feel like she has somewhat prepared me for a GSD puppy because she was (I imagine) like a smaller version. Her nickname was "rat-shark" because she was small but very very nippy, a right terror. She seemed to never sleep and was into everything. Everyone in the house would have to take turns playing/watching her, we would tag out when we had enough. She seemed to never sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time during the day (even when I was rewarding calm behaviour).
And she is still very naughty, still steels tea towels off the bench (she can bounce), she chewed a library book a couple of weeks ago (she is a mega chewer and has tons of chew toys). She's small but has no fear so she climbs stuff and can get places that you wouldn't believe so I have to keep things really out of reach (even a GSD shouldn't be able to reach them).

She made me say "never again will I get a puppy", but she is so fun that I can't stick to that :laugh:

It's good to know that your Pug accepted a GSD and you had no problems.
 

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OP, it sounds like you are already involved in a few dog sport activities with your little dog. So you already have an idea of training, and you have connections to your local dog community. And that it a good thing.

A GSD will have a pretty hefty exercise requirement. They are not happy with just a quick walk once or twice a day. Ask yourself if you really and truly have the time for that. A lot of your training can be done while you're exercising, but dogs also need some mindless exercise, too.

I think a great breeder will be able to give you a good dog, regardless of line. So discover the line you like best and then find a top notch breeder. Since you have some sport venues in mind already, talk to people and ask them which breeders are producing the dogs that are already doing the sports you are interested. There are good dogs in every line, so don't limit yourself! My showline is almost too drivey and I have seen working line dogs that had no drive.

A GSD can certainly live with little dogs. Look for a breeder whose adult dogs live with little dogs successfully. However, be aware that this is a breed that plays rough and noisy. Lots of teeth and sound. Be prepared for that. And always, always supervise closely. The size difference alone, and the rough and tumble play style, makes it important that you keep a close eye on the dogs. I would not leave them loose together when you're not there. Not because the GSD is inherently aggressive, but because accidents happen.

I don't believe that the GSD is a breed for everyone. They can be difficult to raise properly and they need a lot more than many casual owners are aware of when they first bring one home. It can take effort and a whole lot of time to find a well breed GSD, and many people aren't willing to make the effort and be patient when a "pure bread" can be found for a few hundred on Craigslist.

BUT! When you get a good dog? And you put in the time and effort into training and exercising and socializing? The sky is the limit.
Sheilah
Yeah, I already do sports with Holly, she's very good (I just get teased a little bit for having such a small sports dog :p)
The problem is I have never seen a GSD at any of these sports. There were none at the agility (the closest would be a GSD cross - eg cross with Beardie) and none doing Rally-O (and there are some unlikely breeds at Rally-O). I have a feeling they are not popular for obedience here either (I watched a little bit of a competition and they were mostly collies and goldens). Maybe all the GSD are doing SAR, I might have to look into getting involved in that (Holly would be an awesome SAR dog but is too small). There is a black lab being trained for SAR in our obedience class, I might have to ask its owner if she knows many GSDs doing it.


The exercise is something I have worried about. I walk Holly for about one and a half hours a day without fail (I can't miss a day or she turns into a nightmare in the evening), about half of her walk is off leash at the park and on dirt tracks, she normally sees one of her friends and has a play. Then we do about half an hour of training most evenings, she will ask me to train her if I don't initiate it. I groom her three times a week and then give her a frozen stuffed kong or other edible chew. She has obedience class once a week and agility class once a week (each are one hour). I would love to add a half hour of fetch with a GSD (Holly doesn't like fetch).
Do you think this would be enough for a GSD? be honest.

Your right, I would never leave Holly alone with a GSD (or any large dog, or even a small dog that I didn't know really well). Holly is crate trained and a GSD would be too.
 

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There are GSDs that do agility but because of their size it's not as common. I know there are quite a few people here that do Agility with their German Shepherd (there's a section for agility that you can find here: Agility - German Shepherd Dog Forums ). The OB and agility training sounds like enough and on average I do about 1 1/2 -2 hours of play and 30 minutes of training every day. Walking, fetching, tug, flirt poles (which is also training, but rewarding at the same time). If you are looking at adding another dog remember to train separately and give each dog their own play time and sometimes walk time. Walking, playing, and training are all very good for bonding.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
*** *** *** ***
IS A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG RIGHT FOR YOU?
*** *** *** ***

German Shepherds shed a lot. If having dog hair flying around you house bothers you then, you definitely should not consider getting a German shepherd. They shed continuously, as well as blow all their undercoat at least twice a year, spring and fall. To help with this, they should be brushed regularly, but this will still not stop the fur balls from collecting everywhere.

German Shepherd is a large breed, and a very energetic one. They require daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They do not do well confined to a dog run or yard on their own all day, every day. They are very devoted to their family members, and much prefers to be with them every waking moment, rather than shut away on their own.

If you are going to be gone for long periods of time and do not have time for training and playing that the GSD needs, then please consider another breed of dog. German Shepherd Dogs do NOT do well as outside dogs left in kennels with little or no attention, nor do they do well sitting out on a chain all day, just being fed twice a day, with little human contact. They love people, and they want to be with people. The more time you spend with your GSD, the better he will get. A GSD left for long periods of time will quickly become a nuisance barker, digger and chewer.

They require obedience training, basic commands and house manners. German Shepherds are a very powerful breed, and unless taught to walk nicely on a lead, they can drag their owner on quite a tour of the neighborhood, Obedience training should also include socialization, with other animals and with humans.

German Shepherds are very intelligent dogs, and require a firm handler. This does NOT mean an abusive handler but, rather, one that will confidently take his/her place as pack leader (there is a BIG difference). German Shepherds need a job to do, and if left to their own devices too often, they will create their own enjoyment, which could be eating your furniture, digging up your back yard, or barking non-stop all day long.

Remember, the GSD is big dog, an active dog, a working dog, and a loyal dog. So if you don?t mind a little extra vacuuming and extra time spent on your dog, then in return you will have a wonderful friend and companion.
I groom Holly three times a week, I would do the same with a GSD, do you think this would be enough to keep the shedding managable? (although I accept there with still be some and am fine with that).

It wouldn't be left for long amounts of time and would be an inside dog. I love spending time with dogs so I would never just shut one outside and spend no time with it, I have never chained or kenneled a dog. See my previous post for the exercise/training I currently do with my dog, do you think this is enough?

I would teach my GSD more than just basic commands/obedience.
I only do reward based training. I really do not feel comfortable with any form of aversive or punishment based training so that would not be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
if you have the money and time to devote to the dog you're
going to have a well trained, highly socialized dog. good luck
with your new pup.

Thank you, although it will be at least a year to 18 months before I actually get one. I'm still researching and want Holly to be a little older (at least 3 years old) before I get a puppy.
 

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My dog, Holly, will be 2 at the end of September
If you plan a female wait until Holly would be 3 years old, any competition between mates is more likely to take place if the dogs are of the same age or the difference isn't great. Females are OK with males of any breed, he could be a nuisance for your small one, but not more than that. If you have a female and the male sterilization would be recommended. You have plenty of time to look for a new puppy.
This leads to the next question: What sort of lines should I be looking at to get a dog that can do everything I want to do?
You can visit Schutzhund Club or Agility Club before you get your puppy. Watch and judge their dogs yourself. Go ahead with GSD puppy if you think one of these sports is something will change your life for better.
It's also very important that it has a good temperament as well as ability. Really stable and confident.
Dog isn't born with these qualities, it is wholy and totally up to you as his foster parent to make him this way. Methods of training described in various manuals, read books on GSD training and psychology, individual cases we can discuss here in this Forum.
 

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It's also very important that it has a good temperament as well as ability. Really stable and confident.

Dog isn't born with these qualities, it is wholy and totally up to you as his foster parent to make him this way.
Yes. A dog IS born with these qualities. Ask any good breeder and they will tell you. Cliff, Lee, Carmen, Lisa, Chris...so many to choose from. A stable temperament and confidence is genetic. A fearful dog is often genetic. A bad owner can ruin a dog with good genetics just as a good owner can help a fearful dog with bad genetics.
 

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The male/female thing is actually something that I'm having trouble deciding on.
I don't have a preference and if I can find a good breeder I will probably leave it up to them.

Holly will be 3 before I get another dog. I decided that a long time ago. I want her to have some competition experience before I get another dog to train so that I will have already dealt with any issues that may come up. So far she has handled competition really well, but we haven't done an obedience competitions yet (just agility and rally-o so far).

I have read that females are easier for a first time GSD owner and their smaller size would definitely be a plus as I haven't had a big dog before (the biggest I've owned was 12kgs) and it would be better to have a smaller, lighter, faster dog for agility.
But since Holly is a female it is definitely recommended I get a male. Holly is fine with all dogs, but her best friends are male dogs. Because of the size difference I'm not sure I should risk getting a female that may end up showing aggression towards Holly as it matures (I know female-female aggression can get really nasty).


I already do agility and there are no GSD here that do it that I have seen yet. There are also none at Rally-o.
I will look into Schutzhund Clubs to look at dogs but it is not something I want to do with my own dog at this stage.

As for temperament; I do believe it is genetic. I would say Holly is very stable and confident and not aggressive at all.
She was like this the day I brought her home so I could not have influenced it. She definitely had the potential to be ruined in a careless home and she was a demanding puppy that needed a lot of stimulation (perhaps in another home she may have channeled her energy into aggression, definitely would have been destructive). But she has always had the same temperament and it was obvious straight away (her sibling were not the same as her at all, but she is a cross breed so that's expected). I just helped her become more well rounded and better mannered by socializing and training her.

Do you think training a GSD is really that different to training any other breed? what do you think needs to be done differently?
 

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Do you think training a GSD is really that different to training any other breed? what do you think needs to be done differently?
There are so many different lines and subtypes in this breed that I would take any sweeping statement with a big grain of salt.

You have a training club and it sounds like they work with a lot of different breeds there; I'd imagine that should suffice for a normal, sane dog from good lines.
 

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Do you think training a GSD is really that different to training any other breed?
Training any breed is different, you train same things but expect different things from different breeds. GSD is a quick learner but very distructive dog, that's why for those who hasn't managed to build a strong bond between himself and his dog getting attention of his dog is a problem. GSD is in a strong need of a leader, otherwise they become leaders themselves, once you lost your position of a leader you're no longer in command, but you must train your dog the best you can before he is 3, so, time is short for those who are looking forward to win titles.
Of course, puppies from titled parents would have more chances to become winners.
Try to write to Agility Dog Club Of Queensland and find out breeders who are their members.
 

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I would ask myself very honestly why I am leaning towards a gsd, write down a list of qualities you are looking for in a dog along with bullet points of major lifestyle factors. Things that may help you make an educated decision are to consider these pertinent points of your day to day lifestyle as well as long term life plans. Ask yourself if these factors are compatible with the needs of a gsd. There are websites that have "breed selector" questionnaires that can be very helpful in choosing what breed is complementary to your lifestyle. Research the GSD breed and makes a list or pros and cons of owning one.

Some of the pros are that the breed is very intelligent, athletic, loyal, more often than not a driven dog. On the flip side to that is that every dog is different, there is no guarantee that just because the parents had the qualities you were looking for the pup will. Also a dog you may have thought was a perfect match may have a completely different personality when it matures, it may become more laidback and not as driven. Intelligent dogs can become destructive and hard to handle if become bored or are not challenged enough mentally.

Ask yourself if you are prepared mentally and financially for the potential health issues that are common in this breed. Are you prepared to make major lifestyle changes if these issues arise, will it adversely affect Holly 's lifestyle if you had to change yours.

In regard to the GSD's loyalty, they are truly velcro dogs meaning they are unhappy if they cannot be by your side the majority of the time. Would it bother you to have a dog that's quite literally follows you for room to room all day long, even when you want to just go to the bathroom.

That all being said, you have had some amazing accomplishments with Holly, you both sound like a great team. If you and Holly can both accept a gsd for what they are and need then you both will have a new best friend. There is nothing more rewarding than the bond you have with a dog, be it a gsd or any of breed. There are also many mixed breeds that you may find are exactly what you are looking for, so never count out a mutt. I don't believe that a great dog has to be an expensive dog, or from a particular line. There are many members you will find in this forum that believe a rescue will be just as capable and driven as a well bred dog from a breeder, I too believe this. Rescues you may also find will go to the ends of the earth to make their owner proud, they do this all for the simple fact that they are truly grateful to have a loving home.
 

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Do you think training a GSD is really that different to training any other breed? what do you think needs to be done differently?
Yes! We have four dogs. Two Boxers, a St.B/Malamute mix and a GSD.

The Boxers are a little slow to listen to a command. They stop to think about it. Sierra is a very honest little dog so once she does a down or a sit, she doesn't usually break it but she's not anticipating your next command.

The St.B/Malamute mix is interesting. She's a bit of a bull which is part of her breed. We've only had her a few months but we seem to go over the same things every day. The person who had her must have spoiled her terribly. For instance, she was laying in front of the door as I tried to come into the house...tried because she would not move so I could open the door...and everything you want her to do is not simple. You have to repeat several times. But, she can hear you open a bag up in the kitchen from the other room! FOOD!

Jax is my great anticipator. My trainer told me that most dog anticipate but she does it more than usual. I can't ever do the same thing twice with her or she starts to repeat it. I can Front and then Fuss. Or she does an automatic Fuss. Things like that.

In my opinion, German Shepherds are great to train. It's fun to work with a thinking dog that is working with you as a partner.

As far as the genetic aggression...GSD's are supposed to have some aggression in them. It's not a bad thing. If the drives are balanced then it's good. If you have a weak nerved dog with aggression then it's bad.

And out of all the dogs, Jax is the LEAST destructive. Train them! if you train them and exercise them they will not be destructive. They will entertain themselves but all dogs will. Jax is on strict rest right now for a pulled groin muscle. She's taken to torturing the cat. I tell her to stop and she lays down. Sierra is 7 and is just now being left out of the crate. in my experience, Boxers are the most destructive breed I've ever had. They have, at least ours do, a nervous energy that leads them to do things like eat couches and climb in tables to destroy the item in the middle.

Go visit the Schutzhund clubs, the local obedience clubs. Watch the dogs and find some you like. Talk to those breeders. You can easily find a stable, confident dog that can excel at any sport and still be happy to live in a home without being aggressive or destructive.

Even if you don't want to do Schutzhund, go watch the dogs. There will be many stable dogs there that you can watch and then look for their breeders.

Where are you located?
 

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I would say American showline if you want a GSD. Just watch out for bad breeding(big time)! I definitely wouldn't recommend a working line though... Sorry, and I can understand how you would like their looks.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
GoldenGloves:
To be honest I basically want another Holly (only bigger), but she is a cross of three breeds and I know it will be impossible to get another dog with a similar temperament, athleticism, intelligence and training style from those breeds combined again, or seperately (she was very different to her siblings).

Although she could stand to be a little less independent so a bit of velcro could be good.

When I do "dog breed selectors" I often get a crazy answer, German Pincher, or Polish Lowland Sheepdog as the top choice. If I got one of those two breeds it would probably have to be imported as they are not common and I don't think anyone breeds them here.

Jax08:
Holly sounds most like your GSD. She is very quick to respond to commands, responds first time (unless she knows I'm tricking her), she will even respond if she is looking at me and I mouth the command without actually making a noise :) (you should try it with your dog and see if he does this).
I have been having problems with her anticiapting, with the formal retrieve mostly, once I take the dumb-bell she wants to do the finish without me saying so. I also have to work on making sure she doesn't anticipate her recalls.
Although anticipating is actually very useful at the park as she runs to me as soon as I get her leash out of my pocket without me saying a word (sometimes I just have to stop walking and she recalls herself), looks like she's reading my mind. At agility if I'm not careful she will remember a sequence and then if the equipment isn't moved, but we are going to run it differently, she will sometimes do the old course (or parts of it).
She is a very clever little dog.

I'm in New Zealand.

I've actually just remembered that in the back of the magazine that the NZKC sends me each month is a list of 1st/2nd/3rd place dogs (NZKC name, handler and breed) for all competitions in NZ.
For this months magazine there are no GSD in agility, a couple in Rally-O and a few more in Obedience. The kennel names (for those that have them) are Sarelle and Bradwins. That might be a good place for me to start searching for a breeder that I like. I'll keep a watch of what GSD make it into the magazine list.
 
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