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On Thursday Jade and I went to our first lesson of our new training class. This is the third class we have taken, and that second at this club. The instructor for this class was the assistant in our last class and I really enjoyed her before, and she had nothing but nice things to say about Jade in our last class. It is important to point out that this is actually the second class, but that we missed the first one because of a family matter that came up last minute.

We got to class about 10 minutes early and that class before us was still working so Jade and I sat down in the chairs outside the ring. There are two rows of chairs, the first is right up next to the ring and the second is about 3 feet back against the wall. leaving about a 2 foot walk way. There are about 10 chairs total. There is a girl with a collie in the first row of chairs that I have never meet before, and a gentleman and his little dog that was in our previous class on the end of the back row. I choose the back row of chairs, closest to the other end and put Jade under the table. She lays down with her head in the aisle. In walks a couple with their two dogs. Jade looks at them and kinda sits up, I put her back into a down. I was hoping that the people would either sit in the front row, or walk around and wait in the back. But instead they decide to walk down the very narrow aisle past everyone to wait at the side of the ring. One of their dogs, Maggie I learned later, walks right up to Jade as they walk past. I grab Jade before she gets up and the couple walks right past with no other problems. I know that Jade just wants to play with this other dog, especially since it got right up next to her. Jade has never attacked another dog, she has never even growled at another dog. Anyway the instructor for my class comes over and tells me that I need to watch my dog and make her behave. I was a little suprised since nothing happened so I just nodded my head and agreed with her.

Class starts with no problems. Jade keeps looking over at the other dog Maggie but I keep distracting her and trying to keep her watching me. The instructor informs me during a break that I need to be careful because if Jade does ever attack another dog we will get kicked out of the class. Now I'm getting a little upset because Jade has done nothing wrong. I know that staring at other dogs can be considered rude (which is why I kept stopping her) but I know my dog and she wanted to play, not attack.

About half way through class the instructor brings out her dog, a German short haired pointer that i know from the last class is a bouncing crazy dog. Jade and I just happen to be right by the entrance to the ring. So as a preventive measure I put Jade into a down stay and make her wait while the instructor brings her dog out, shows us what she wants to show us and then puts her away. Then I let her up and we practice what she just showed us.

Class is finally over and we walk back over to the chair so that I can get my purse. I'm digging around for my keys with Jade sitting next to me, my hand on her collar. Now I have my back turned so i'm not exactly sure what happened but all of a sudden Jade jumps up, lunges toward the collie growling at her. I drop what I'm doing, drag Jade into the ring, put her in a down stay and make her watch me. Everyone is just staring at me. I can hear the instructor asking the collie owner if she is okay ( I know that Jade did not make contact, I never let go of her), she says yes and that Lucy, the collie, was use to this, that it had happened many times before. I also want to point out that at the beginning of the class I heard the instructor telling the assistant that Lucy was scared of people and that they could not touch her. Well as Jade and I are staring at each other the instructor walks up, with the air of "I told you so" all around her. I was mortified. I have never seen Jade act like this before. We have been charged by barking and growling dogs before and Jade has never once responded with anything but excitement. I have never seen her bark or growl at another dog before.

The instructor starts talking about how she knew this was going to happen, she had seen all the signs. I told her, no Jade has never done this before. She said yes, she did this to Maggie last class. I said no, we were not even here last class. Oh well it was the last class you were in together. I tell her we have never been in a class with Maggie or Lucy before. She says well then she did this to another dog in the last class. I said the only time she has ever lunged at another dog was in the previous class when she did jump at the little fluffy dog as it was running across the ring. And she praised me for how well i handled that situation at the time. She looks at me and says "well she is just an aggressive dog and you need to deal with that or I will have to ask you to leave". At that point I kinda lost it and started to cry, babyish I know but it had been a long week and this not nice lady was pushing all the right buttons. By now the rest of the class has left and the assistant comes up and starts telling me that I handled that very well, that I got her out of the situation right away, and that I did nothing wrong. I let Jade up and she was just as happy as can be. We left and I haven't seen any more of this "aggression" since then. I understand that if a dog attacks another dog that they are kicked out of the class, I understand and respect that rule, but I just can't believe that my dog is aggressive.

So am I just oblivious? Is my dog aggressive and I just never noticed?

For next class we are going to do several things differently. I am going to try to wear Jade out as much as possible before arriving at class. We are not going to arrive as early, and if the other class is not done we are not going to sit down, but wait in another room. After class we will wait in the ring until everyone else has cleared the area before we head out. Is there anything else we need to do to prevent this from happening again?

Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I am still really shocked by this whole thing and need any help or advice that you might have.
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this is a Petsmart/Petco type of class?
I wouldn't let it bother you, and your plans for what to do before your next class sound great - I think things will go much smoother. It sucks that this "trainer" made you so upset though. I'd look around for better classes with a better trainer, because the real training is the ability to work with the owner, and she sounds like she's lacking there.
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this is a Petsmart/Petco type of class?
I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. My first training class was at petco and it was wonderful. We are in a different training class now and we will finish it, because my dog needs to be around other dogs, but preferred the petco class to this one. The trainers at the new class also put down the petco training, but then praise my dog on how well he does. I remind them it's not his first class. Maybe they will change their minds.

Anyway, for the OP, you know your dog best. My vet tried to tell me my dog is aggressive. He really is not. This one vet is the only person he has done a short growl at or barked at. I think my dog just doesn't care for him...lol...He did exam him with no issues and no muzzle.
 

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I think I would look for another instructor sounds like from what you've written the one you have now is already against Jade and not offering any training advice on how to correct her so you and Jade can learn the best way to train.

From your signiture looks like Jade is about a year old, Frank went through a period at about that age where he started testing his boundries not as much with me but with other dogs, and at first I didn't pick up on what he was doing. He started staring at other dogs and bouncing at dogs in a way at first I thought was playful. but after my instructor started pointing some things out. I realized I was missing some body signals from him.
With my instructors help we've worked him past that stage.
If Jade is doing the same thing, the instructor needs to help you realize what's going on, not just label her as aggressive.

I use almost the same plan taking Frank in and out of our classes. He's the type dog that doesn't like other dogs right up in his face and all over him, so I keep him out of those situations. Come to think of it I'm that type person can't stand strange people right up in my face why should I expect my dog too.
One thing I add is when we arrive at class, I spend about 10 min. before class working Frank in the parking lot (mostly heeling) before we go in. That starts his mind in working mode so he's settled when we walk into class.
 

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I think that you need to talk to the instructor before you continue. It will not be fair to either you or Jade. It sounds like this instructor is assuming things she shouldn't about GSD's. I don't think your dog is aggressive and it sounds like you handled it well.
 

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Well shoot I'm screwed then if most places are attack a dog and your out. I would speak with the trainer and ask him / her for advice and why they had such a bad attitude about Jade that day. To me if my trainer says something like that it kind of poisons my brain which makes me have a funny feeling which the dog would pick up on and could react to. Your pre class plans sound like a great idea and maybe still arrive 10 minutes early and go for a quick walk and practice your obedience with him to get him in the training mindset like someone else had mentioned.


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*deep breath* Believe me, I've been in the same boat with the automatic stereotype with two separate trainers. One labelled Delgado fearful because he didn't want to play with the other dogs in the puppy class because some ganged up on him and the trainer didn't step in. The second labelled Delgado a handful and told me I would have a lot of trouble training him because he didn't listen to her well

Funny thing is, by the end of both classes the trainers had nothing but praise for him. He overcame their small expectations of him and I couldn't be prouder. Don't let one comment hurt you, use it to solidify your resolve and do better next time. If I listened to the first trainer I would have quit the group classes completely after the first day and never learned how to deal with problems

I'll start with the trainer, I'm a little confused as you said she apparently liked Jade in the first class and was praising her and now apparently right from the start of this class sees her as a issue. :confused: Either she's confusing her with another dog, which is possible and that's stacking the deck against you right from the start. Or she's just one of those people who smile and tell you how great your dog is so that you'll sign up for more classes with them, it's a sales tactic. If she was the assistant in the previous class perhaps this is her first class she's teaching and she feels she has something to prove? Who knows, try to work with this trainer but if it's not working out you might need to move to another class with a different trainer that's willing to work with you

I would go early and talk to the trainer, call and ask her for a meeting before so you know you can have a few minutes alone with her. Talk about the situation and come up with a plan for that class so you both are on the same page. I would agree that what your dog did was wrong, but you want to fix it and are working on solutions.


Now for you and Jade. Keep a calm level head, each day is a new day and if you go into the next class dreading what could happen then you're going to just hurt yourself and your dog. Instead focus on the goal, go into class and sit in the seat and enjoy it. Keep a eye on Jade and any eye movement towards other dogs gets redirected.

If it makes you more comfortable ask the trainer to have a seat available that's away from the other dogs. If you find her focus is lacking then move the seat back if possible, find where she's most comfortable and stay there for that class. Next class go to the same spot and try moving the chair a little closer, if she misbehaves then go back to the original spot.

Keep Jade's focus on you, if allowed bring a tug or quiet toy to keep her attention on you. Keep training during the down time when the instructor is speaking, listen to what they're saying but have your dog do puppy pushups (down, sit, down, sit) or play quietly with the tug. Take lots of different treats with you and reward focus, start with a 5 second span, then 10, then 30, etc.

Hopefully working together will get you good results
 

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Honestly when reading all of that, you seemed very high strung. I'm sure Jade was feeding off you. While I know you were just trying to not be in other peoples way, but if you were watching Maggie's owners and thinking "don't slip by me don't slip by me" your heart rate is rising and you're trying to manage your dog. Jade picks up on this, identifies Maggie as the trigger.

When you're digging for your keys, its been a long hour of trying to stay on top of Jade while the trainer has been on top of you. Jade is on high alert now because you're fumbling, looking for your keys, have tension on her collar, are turned away and probably in a vulnerable position.

I've been in the same place before. GSDs know their owners better than they know themselves. If you are not comfortable with the trainer / that class anymore, then ask for a refund. If you keep going and the whole class has their eyes on you and that makes you uneasy, Jade will respond to that.

Relax. Shes not a monster. She hasn't done anything bad. Jade was trying to do what she thought she was supposed to be doing-- protecting you.
 

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Honestly when reading all of that, you seemed very high strung. I'm sure Jade was feeding off you. While I know you were just trying to not be in other peoples way, but if you were watching Maggie's owners and thinking "don't slip by me don't slip by me" your heart rate is rising and you're trying to manage your dog. Jade picks up on this, identifies Maggie as the trigger.

When you're digging for your keys, its been a long hour of trying to stay on top of Jade while the trainer has been on top of you. Jade is on high alert now because you're fumbling, looking for your keys, have tension on her collar, are turned away and probably in a vulnerable position.

I've been in the same place before. GSDs know their owners better than they know themselves. If you are not comfortable with the trainer / that class anymore, then ask for a refund. If you keep going and the whole class has their eyes on you and that makes you uneasy, Jade will respond to that.

Relax. Shes not a monster. She hasn't done anything bad. Jade was trying to do what she thought she was supposed to be doing-- protecting you.
Exactly what is said above... Just have faith in Jade be confident let her feel that you are and have control and she need not worry and you should be just fine. Body language is the key in any situation :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all for the replies,

No this is not a petsmart class, although we do often go wonder around petsmart for training purposes.

I'm really not sure what the trainers issue is. This isn't her first class to teach so I doubt she has something to prove. She seemed to love Jade in the last class but now she doesn't and I don't know what changed. Its was only two weeks between classes too. During class she is very helpful. Lots of advice and willing to help with everything except for the aggression which I don't understand. It is not possible to talk to her before class because she is actually taking the class before mine (its for people doing obedience shows, to practice and get critiques from others). I do plan on talking to her after class on Thursday though.

Yes I'm sure my attitude did not help anything on Thursday. It had been a long week, and we were almost in an accident on the way to class so to say I was high-strung that day would be right on target. I will try my hardest to be calm and confident this week and hopefully that will make a difference.

Franksmom, what exactly did your trainer have you do to help you work through Frank's little phrase? What you explained does sound like something that could be happening with Jade.
 

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No advice, but sounds like you did everything right. I hope it all goes better for you and I am sorry you had to deal with that! You sound like a very great dog mom!
 

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Well, I was willing to cut the trainer a little slack if it was a box-store type of class. But since it isn't, I'd be much more demanding with this trainer. I'm not following exactly, but it sounds like the trainer for this class was an assistant in the previous classes, and now for this class she's got her own assistant? Maybe she's just overwhelmed with the responsibility, if that's the case. She might not have the confidence to lead the class on her own, and this might affect how she views Jade.
This is just a guess, but it doesn't make sense why she'd turn on you suddenly.
 

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I know we've all run into trainers that don't really know what they're talking about...but its kind of sad that people's first reaction to a story (told from a less experienced person's POV) is that the trainer doesn't know what they're talking about and the person does.

If this had been a Schutzhund trainer, then everyone would jump at the chance to say the trainer probably saw signs that OP didn't, yet this trainer, who's background is unknown, is automatically listed as a big-box trainer that doesn't know what they're talking about.

Maybe the trainer did see signs from Jade that OP didn't notice? What if there was a slight raise of the lip, or a change in facial expression that the OP didn't see because they weren't in the right position to notice (I'm assuming behind the dog).

I don't think Jade is aggressive/reactive, but she has some issues with other dogs. If she didn't, there wouldn't be lunging/growling. You do need to be more vigilant, I'm not sure how old she is, but she might be maturing and her "happy puppy, I love everything" stage might be ending. She will start running into issues with other dogs, and increased staring doesn't help that. The collie...if she already has fear issues...probably gives off a fearful scent which your dog picks up on. As a maturing dog, she is kind of picking on the lowest lying fruit at this point. My dog did this as well when he started to mature...he wouldn't have any issues with dogs that would stand up for themselves and tell him off, but the ones that cowered and wouldn't, he'd constantly pick on (I'd have to step in and stop it immediately).
 

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I know we've all run into trainers that don't really know what they're talking about...but its kind of sad that people's first reaction to a story (told from a less experienced person's POV) is that the trainer doesn't know what they're talking about and the person does.

If this had been a Schutzhund trainer, then everyone would jump at the chance to say the trainer probably saw signs that OP didn't, yet this trainer, who's background is unknown, is automatically listed as a big-box trainer that doesn't know what they're talking about.

Maybe the trainer did see signs from Jade that OP didn't notice? What if there was a slight raise of the lip, or a change in facial expression that the OP didn't see because they weren't in the right position to notice (I'm assuming behind the dog).

I don't think Jade is aggressive/reactive, but she has some issues with other dogs. If she didn't, there wouldn't be lunging/growling. You do need to be more vigilant, I'm not sure how old she is, but she might be maturing and her "happy puppy, I love everything" stage might be ending. She will start running into issues with other dogs, and increased staring doesn't help that. The collie...if she already has fear issues...probably gives off a fearful scent which your dog picks up on. As a maturing dog, she is kind of picking on the lowest lying fruit at this point. My dog did this as well when he started to mature...he wouldn't have any issues with dogs that would stand up for themselves and tell him off, but the ones that cowered and wouldn't, he'd constantly pick on (I'd have to step in and stop it immediately).
I am starting to believe that it could be that she is maturing and some issues that I never noticed before are starting to appear. Jade will be 1 yr old in the beginning of May.

What exactly did you do when your dog started to behave that way toward some dogs? I want to do everything I can to nip this in the butt before it becomes a bigger issue. Besides just redirecting her or asking for her to focus on me any time she starts to stare at a dog is there anything else that I can do?
 

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Martemchik, what I think is kind of sad is that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. Not just call themselves a dog trainer, but take other people's money for it. Now, if this trainer *had* seen something, why not offer some solutions? Instead, she threatens to kick Jade out of the class? I don't think I'm being unreasonable to expect someone who calls themselves a trainer to actually want to train a dog, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to an unwanted behavior.
 

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I am starting to believe that it could be that she is maturing and some issues that I never noticed before are starting to appear. Jade will be 1 yr old in the beginning of May.

What exactly did you do when your dog started to behave that way toward some dogs? I want to do everything I can to nip this in the butt before it becomes a bigger issue. Besides just redirecting her or asking for her to focus on me any time she starts to stare at a dog is there anything else that I can do?
My dog never lunged/growled at dogs. He was very confident/dominant over them and would just keep pestering them. Usually strong, but not aggressive bites and trying to grab them by the neck and pin them to the ground. He'll single out a dog and just keep going after them even when its clear that dog is uncomfortable. It's not like he'd hurt the other dog...but he just doesn't stop going after the "weak" ones. I have to stop him (and this is part of the reason why we don't go to the dog park anymore).

My dog is generally very friendly with all dogs until THAT dog does something aggressive (bite/growl/snap), at which point he'll turn into what you would expect a GSD to turn into...and its not pretty. I've had these types of run ins a few times but always controlled and no one ever got hurt.

My advice to you would be to keep training. It sounds like the place you're training at now isn't suited to deal with ANY type of aggression issues...especially in a normal class. It makes sense...there are other dogs there that the trainer would be putting in danger and its not fair to those owners to be subjected to that risk just because you need to work on your dog's issues. It does sound like you can control her, and so you should just be much more proactive than you already are. Understand what might "set her off" and make sure it doesn't happen. I would avoid close proximity with other dogs for a while...just in case...and it has a way of blowing over once she gets older and a bit more mature. She'll understand that she doesn't have to protect you or be the first one to react aggressively if she's unsure about the situation.

If you keep running into situations where she is the first one to react aggressively...then I'd say you have bigger issues that you'll need to find a better trainer/behaviorist for. At the moment, it doesn't sound like anything but a confused/maturing dog.
 

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Thank you all for the replies,

Franksmom, what exactly did your trainer have you do to help you work through Frank's little phrase? What you explained does sound like something that could be happening with Jade.

She pointed out in class when Frank was showing any unacceptable body language, so I could redirect or in some cases correct him, depending on what he was doing. She did that until I learned to see the signs and take care of it myself. I had to realize my goofy pup was becoming mature and as she would say "We don't want people walking wide paths around him at shows, refusing to sit next to him and whispering, see that GSD don't go near him" :eek:
I used LAT too, but positive only training will not work with Frank sometimes he had to have that Physical correction, to say "Hey Knock it off!"
While others are taking their turns in class, and sometimes we have the room divided in to with ring gates with dogs working at the same time on each side of the room so lots of movement, I use that time to work Frank's brain we may do stays in place, focus on me, or I have him just take his dumbell hold it, and return it to me.

She gave me feedback each week in class on what we did right and what I needed to work on. I knew I could email her anytime during the week with questions. She never said he was a lost cause just kept saying "Keep working on it and I'll see you next week." Just her saying I'll see you next week not to the class but to us, made it seem possible to train him out of it.

I do know how you feel I remember being so Upset near tears, the first time Frank decided he was going to "go after" another dog in class, I felt like a failure that my goofy pup could do something like that. I felt like I had Cujo living in my house, not to be trusted.

It was work we train at home everyday on top of trips we take to stores and classes once a week.
He's 3 now and I still watch body language not just his, any dog I'm around, it's made me more aware. I showed him at a very big dog show last month, we didn't qualify (those out of site stays are a pain), but afterwards we walked around the booth area shopping watching other dogs show, It was really crowded we had to weave in and out of people and dogs. He ignored everyone and every dog.
He will never be a play with every one type dog, he doesn't like other dogs in his face, but I can redirect him to me, while I tell the other person to move their dog or move the other dog myself if the owner isn't around.

If I can train Frank to this point anyone else can do it with their dog too. Keep training!
 

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Martemchik, what I think is kind of sad is that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. Not just call themselves a dog trainer, but take other people's money for it. Now, if this trainer *had* seen something, why not offer some solutions? Instead, she threatens to kick Jade out of the class? I don't think I'm being unreasonable to expect someone who calls themselves a trainer to actually want to train a dog, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to an unwanted behavior.
You're right...more explanation would've been nice. But the fact is, many training facilities are not set up to deal with aggressive dogs. Any of them. And I've heard of plenty that remove any dog that reacts on a first strike basis. These types of places sometimes have reactive dogs classes...where all the owners are assuming the risks of having the aggressive dogs and they all walk into class knowing there will be those types of issues. But most of the classes are not meant to deal with aggression and like I stated in the earlier post it is not fair to force that kind of risk on the other members of the class.

I would personally not bat an eyelash at Jade reacting the way she did if it happened in a class I was in (I'd even offer help and use my boy to work on the issues), but if I had a toy breed, terrier breed, just any dog smaller than a GSD (and possibly some bigger) I really wouldn't want to be in the same class as a GSD that is reacting.

The trainer did say to OP to watch the dog and to make sure some things are prevented. I wouldn't be surprised if more guidance isn't offered due to liability concerns of, "well this is what the trainer told me to do" when the training facility isn't insured against such things.
 

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I am not sure if this will help or not but we do private lessons once every other week and group on Sat. It works well because we get the one on one and then you get the group exposure. Our group lessons are held outside on the large agility field. There are always 2 trainers present one conducting the class and the other to work on any special issues. It is nice because if a dog is having an "off" day and they all have them they do not need to be right next to everyone else. Your dog sounds normal to me and what I would suggest is to stay on top of her training. I do think the redirect and you being the most important thing going on is important. Beyond that I would find a different trainer and facility. You need to have confidence in your trainer or your dog won't either.


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Honestly when reading all of that, you seemed very high strung. I'm sure Jade was feeding off you. While I know you were just trying to not be in other peoples way, but if you were watching Maggie's owners and thinking "don't slip by me don't slip by me" your heart rate is rising and you're trying to manage your dog. Jade picks up on this, identifies Maggie as the trigger.
Bingo.

I was getting nervous reading your description of the class (thanks for being honest, though, as we can't help if you're not!). You were clearly very wound up worrying about what might happen. To your dog, it sensed that you were worried and afraid of these people and animals and it felt it needed to take the lead in your two-being pack and make the decision about when to growl.

Your "trying" to relax for the next class may only magnify the problem, if by "trying" to relax you intend to approach it with the same uptight attitude. The dog will interpret your "trying" as simply more indecision.

How about this? Let your dog sniff every dog there! Give your dog a treat and praise when he does! Introduce yourself to every person there, and their dog! If someone says "no, my dog is fearful/shy/not interested" then ok, you skip them. Show your dog that you OWN this place and he has nothing to fear but the fact that he is about to have an hour of rip-roaring fun! THAT's the attitude you need to bring, and your dog will relax with you.

When we do this my dog approaches the others with a happy wagging tail and licks lips like they're best buds. So do the other dogs. And the owners are glad for the friendly socialization. Once in a while there is a little snarl fest, but I quickly correct her about that bad behaviour and we shrug and move on. They are dogs, after all.:)

And, you are right, that trainer was acting like and idiot, I'd be very leery of going to him/her again. Good luck.
 
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