An Assortment of Things

A quick apology before I begin, but this post is going to be a bit random.

On Wednesday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. We have been trying to go to the morning ones, but on Monday Huib was too sleepy, and then on Tuesday my migraine got in the way. With the unstable weather this month, my migraines have been pretty constant. 🙁

I wasn’t sure how long I’d b able to swim, as I still had a migraine, but I really felt it was important to do something.

I swam 500 metres in 29 minutes!!! That is the fastest I have swam so far!! I then swam another 100 metres before getting out of the pool.

If I keep improving as quick as I have been, who knows what goals I’ll be able to achieve next year.

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As of Monday, it has been ten weeks since my ankle injury. With the continued discomfort, we’re pretty sure it was fractured. To ensure no long-term problems, I have scheduled an appointment with our family doctor on the 7th, so we can talk about a possible x-ray.

Laura said it took about 18 weeks for her fractured ankle to feel completely normal, so maybe it will take me a similar amount of time. Sadly, I’m beginning to think I will not be able to do a 5 kilometre run with Jason on Halloween.

Who would have thought I’d actually be sad about not running….? LOL!!!

I will keep everyone posted on my recovery.

*****

Even though I will not be returning to McMaster this year, I applied for teaching assistant positions in the fall and winter terms. I really enjoy teaching and marking, so I hope I am given at least one of the many classes available. Even one term would be nice.

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Yesterday, we took Rogue and Arizona to see Dr. Whelan. He’s a doggie-ophthalmologist. I have been taking my dogs to see him since 2011, when I learned that Cessna has tiny cataracts in both of her eyes and Canyon has scarring on his retinas.

Rogue’s eyes are good. He says nothing has changed since she saw him two years ago.

It is always a great relief to hear your guide dog can see, lol!!!

Arizona is also good. She has been cleared of any inheritable eye conditions – YAY!!!

Dr. Whelan did find a fine linear cataract on her right eye, but he said it is not inheritable and he does not suspect it will progress. I asked him what could have caused it and he said “the cells stopped growing and died.” I asked him if it’s just that “shit happens,” and he agreed.

I was really worried that this would mean no future Arizona puppies, but Anne seems happy with the report – YAY!!!

Our next hurdle is the genetic testing. The Paw Print Genetics kit should be arriving soon.

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To try and promote further healing of my ankle, I’m taking it easy today and over the weekend as well. I think I might have over-done it last week, as I didn’t feel as much discomfort the week before. I just get so bored sitting around, and we have lots of training to do, if we want to enter field and tracking tests this fall.

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back…

This week’s field class was a bit frustrating.

I thought we were past the water issues with Arizona, but I guess I was wrong. She is at it again!!

Our evening began with some land retrieves. Overall, Arizona does really well on land, so I decided to work on doubles. Susie had Laura and Dean do a training double for Air.

She retrieved the first duck perfectly. Then got the next well. But, she had some difficulty understanding there was another to go find. Susie thinks it is because there was no gunshot.

Once we convinced her to look out towards the gunners, Laura made exciting noises and I sent her. It took a bit of searching, but she found the duck and brought it back – Good Girl!!

Susie wants me to stop grabbing her neck and to work on teaching her to put the duck right in my hand, so I’m not searching for her. We have been working on this at home when she carries and retrieves things for us. I think it’s just a matter of time before she figures it out.

Once all of the dogs had done their land retrieves – there were eight in total – we were off to the pond.

Here is Arizona in the field. Huib says the sky was really cool looking, so that’s the main reason he took the picture.

Arizona was the first to attempt a water retrieve. Since she is working on her junior hunter (JH), Susie had her do singles.

The first duck was tossed and I released her. She ran up to the edge of the pond and took a drink. Then decided to just walk along the edge, so Huib went over and spent over a minute convincing her to go in. She finally got in and began swimming towards the decoys. She didn’t see her duck, so I think she thought she could just bring me a decoy instead. They are anchored into the pond, so it was funny to hear her splashing while trying to pull them to shore. After a couple of seconds, I told her to “leave it,” and Dean tossed a rock into the pond near the duck. Ari heard/saw the splash and took off towards her duck. She brought it straight back – Good Girl!!

the second retrieve was similar, but not quite as horrible. Susie had Laura toss the duck into the middle of the pond, so Ari wouldn’t have to swim as far. It took a lot of convincing to get her to jump in, but once she did, she swam right over to the duck and then brought it back.

I really don’t get her hesitation to get into the water. I’m beginning to wonder if extra practice will help, or if it’s just a problem we’ll always encounter from time-to-time.

Hopefully next week will be better.

Conformation

Now that Canyon is eight years old, we don’t do a lot of conformation. There are a lot more goldens coming out to the CKC run events, so it isn’t really worth entering him, since he’s older and still a lot smaller than most males. Arizona is not really a showy golden, so she also isn’t worth entering into a CKC run show.

This past weekend was the Grand River Kennel Club’s United Kennel Club show. It featured conformation and rally obedience events. Arizona tends to do okay at these shows, so we decided to enter her both days.

On Saturday, she only took part in the morning show. We considered doing the afternoon one as well, but she likes her naps and becomes very uncooperative when she’s tired, so we decided to only do the one show.

There were six breeds represented in the gun dog group: Standard Poodle, American Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimaraner and Golden Retriever. There were about five standard poodles and two German shorthairs, but only one of each of the other breeds.

Arizona has not done any conformation since last summer, so we weren’t sure how she’d perform. She was GREAT!!!

The judge, Mr. Gregory Storms, said Arizona was very cute. He awarded her a group fourth!!!

The poodle was first, the cocker spaniel was second and the weimaraner was third.

On Sunday, our friend Kelly entered her two Australian Shepherds, so we put Arizona into both shows.

There were two more breeds represented in the gun dog group: a Labrador Retriever and an Irish Red and White Setter.

Even though Arizona did a fabulous job in both shows, she did not earn a group placement. Our friend watched her in the ring and said she has great movement and structure. She said it looks as though Arizona is very light on her feet.

I think all of the dogs in the group had great structure and movement, so it was a tough decision for the judges to make. The dogs who weren’t as good did not get any placement, even once, during the weekend, so we’re pretty happy with the show outcome.

Arizona now has two competition wins, so she just needs one more to finish her UKC conformation title. Depending on our schedule, I think we’re going to try and enter another show in November.

Mid-Week Update

It’s been a good week so far.

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for the 9:00pm swim. I felt as though I was swimming on the slower side, but I actually wasn’t. We did 600 metres in 45 minutes!!! This is five minutes faster than I’ve been doing so far.

Tuesday was a much busier day.

In the afternoon, I had a two hour meting at City Hall. I am part of their accessibility advisory committee. We meet every two months to discuss accessibility-related topics from around the city. It was a pretty dry meeting. Some can get a bit controversial, with lots of discussion and debate, but this one was quite tame.

At 6:30pm, Arizona had field class. The weather was not too warm, so we brought Canyon along. When we arrived, no one else was really there yet, so we played a bit of fetch with the goldens, to cut down on their energy.

First, we worked on making sure the dogs entered the water straight ahead of where we sent them and then returned to us. This exercise was done to teach the dogs that they cannot run along the shore in order to find a clear path, they must bust through the weeds to get directly into and out of the water from the spot they are sent. Arizona will sometimes run to a clearer spot before jumping into the water, but she is really good about swimming directly back to me. Some of the other dogs had to be pushed back into the pond when they wanted to get out early.

Next, we went to a pond that has a rocky shore. Susie wanted the dogs to practice setting up and returning to an uneven surface. She had a wooden skid for people to stand on, so I thought I would be safe enough with my ankle, but Ari did not feel secure. I think she worried about getting a paw caught between the boards, so Huib took her onto the rocks to set up. I whistled and called her back, but he did the actual handling. She wasn’t so sure about getting into the water, but once she was in, she swam right to the duck and brought it to Huib. I think she needs more practice in different ponds and on different surfaces.

There was a bit of daylight left, so we did some land retrieves as well. Arizona set up nicely, but when I said “fetch,” she didn’t move, lol!! I had to release her a few times before she went. She retrieved the duck and dropped it just as I was taking it. I tried to get her to take it back and hold it until I asked her to “give,” but she really didn’t want to cooperate. In her defence, the duck was pretty gross!! It was wet and smooshy!! Arizona had the same hesitation when I released her for the second duck.

I was sort of confused about her difficulties on land. Normally her land retrieves are flawless, but Susie is thinking she was unsure of the forest surrounding us. I think other dogs had a similar issue, so maybe she is right. I wonder if this is something we’d actually run into at a test, or if it’s just something to challenge them while training…

This morning, Huib and I woke up at 5:30am to go to the 6:30am swim at Victoria Road. Huib is finding it difficult to get to sleep after our evening swims, so he wants to try out the earlier morning time. I am a bit unsure I like the early wake up, but we’ll see what happens.

Our swim went well. This seems to be a busier time, so we had two other swimmers to watch out for, but they were patient. Huib didn’t get to do a lot of swimming, he spent a lot of his time blocking me from going into the path of other swimmers. I cannot swim in a straight line. I do a lot of zig-zagging, so it can be hard for Huib to keep me out of the way.

I finished my 600 metres in 42 minutes, so I decided to try for another 100. In total, I did 700 metres in 48 minutes – a HUGE improvement from when I started on June 24th!!

This evening, Huib’s work has a staff appreciation picnic thing. If the temperature isn’t too warm, I think I’ll bring Rogue and the two goldens. We tried to buy camping chairs last night at Walmart, but they only had really uncomfortable, expensive ones. Huib went to Canadian Tire this afternoon and found a fun love seat, so I think Rogue is going to be a happy little lab.

Before I sign off, I’ll tell you all about last night’s trip to Walmart. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play of shopping, but I will tell you about the “service dog” we saw. I put ‘service dog’ in quotes because I’m really not sure if it was or wasn’t. We were going to the checkout and heard some growling. Huib looked over and saw a little terrier mix of some sort, wearing a nondescript service dog vest. The woman apologized for her dog’s behaviour, which is great, but what I wasn’t too happy about was the excuse, “my dog normally doesn’t do this.” I’m not saying the person was lying, but I wonder if it’s true. Maybe it is, but maybe it’s more that your dog doesn’t normally see other dogs in public places and you avoid meeting other dogs outside of stores. I am sure some little dogs are great service dogs, but so far the ones I’ve seen are making me wonder how many of them are getting enough training around other dogs, especially larger ones. Rogue is not a big dog, but little dogs still seem intimidated.

While this “little terror,” as Huib nicknamed it, was growling at Rogue, she stood quietly beside me. I knew she noticed it though, because she tried to tell me we should leave, lol!! I guess she thought it would be safer to leave, rather than to wait for our turn to pay, while the dog was still near. Thankfully, the dog and it’s owner left shortly after we got in line. Huib also made sure to keep us a good distance away.

In closing, I really don’t care if people bring their pet dogs into public places, I just expect all dogs, even service dogs, to show some manners. As I said before, I’m not accusing this person of not really having a disability, but from the behaviour of the dog, I think it needs more training before coming back into public.

What’s Next?

On Monday, it will be nine weeks since I injured my ankle. I still experience some discomfort when in use, but mainly when it’s over-extended. I’m thinking I should be able to start walking in a week and then we’ll see how things progress from there. I still want to do a five kilometre run with my friend Jason at the end of October, but I also want to take it easy, so I do not end up with any long-term side effects.

Since June 24th, I’ve been swimming at least twice a week with Huib. We started out just doing 250 metres, but as of last night we’re up to 600. I swam 600 metres in 55 minutes on Wednesday, and then I did 600 in 50 minutes last night.

I am still having trouble with my leg movements, but my arms are doing better. My breathing is a work-in-progress, but the nose plug is really helping. I’m not stressing out about water up my nose, so I’m able to focus more on turning my head to breathe, instead of raising my head completely out of the water.

Once I am back to running, I will continue to swim as often as possible. Maybe there is a triathlon or something in my future.

There are now canine biathlons taking place in the United States. My friend Jess and I think it would be fun to do one with Arizona and her dog Nala. I’d love to do it with Rogue, but my little fox red lab isn’t a big swimmer.

As long as I take things slow, I think I have a lot of options for new health and adventure goals.

Field Update

Last week was the first class we had attended in a couple of weeks.

There was a storm brewing, so we only did work on land. I want Arizona to start training for the WCI (working certificate intermediate), so we did a training double.

First, Arizona retrieved a single duck, like usual. Then, I set her up to watch the gunners each toss one. The first duck is called the “memory bird” because it is the duck that the dog needs to remember the location of. She went over to the second duck that dropped, picked it up and brought it back to me. Then, I set her up again to send her for the first bird that dropped, or the memory bird.

I took too long setting her up for the resend, so Laura had to help her find the second bird. Sue suggested I release her the second I notice her look in the direction of the bird, and forget about setting her up. I am still learning, so I am always eager for advice. I will try this next time.

This week we worked on the stuff she will need to know for the JH (junior hunt) tests in September.

When we arrived at Susie’s place, we were about 10 minutes early, so Huib got out a bumper and we did a few practice tosses. We are hoping that the extra practice before training will help Arizona get over her hesitation. She had no problems jumping into the pond to get her bumper.

Arizona’s first duck retrieve went really well. When I sent her for her second one, she stopped at the edge of the pond to watch a mink run along the edge. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally jumped into the pond and retrieved her bird. Dean, one of the duck toller handlers, said Arizona’s pretty smart not to want to mess with a mink. I guess they are pretty nasty little creatures.

There were only three dogs (Arizona, Beep and Shelby) in attendance, so we had a lot of time to work on things.

I guess some clubs are starting to run tests where the dog does a land retrieve, and then turns around to do a water one. Sandy, who’s filling in for Susie while she’s away, did the land retrieve and Dean did the water.

Arizona did a beautiful land retrieve. Sandy set it up so that the dogs had to run down a hill and up another to get to the duck. It took a second for Ari to find her bird, but Sandy said you could see when she caught the scent because she ran right over to it.

The water retrieve went a bit rough. Huib says Ari kept sniffing the pond surface, not wanting to go in. He wonders if maybe she smelled the mink, so didn’t want to enter. After several minutes of convincing, she finally leaped in and swam right over to the duck. She brought it over and handed it right to me – Good Girl!!

Even though we are still running into some hesitation problems, I think Arizona has really improved since last year.

Fun in the Sun

We had a great Sunday!!

At 9:30am, we met Laura, Sandy, Kay/John, and Sarah at the University of Guelph for tracking. Kay and John got a new lab puppy named Trigs, so Sarah’s 4-month old GSD, Loch and Trigs did several short learner tracks.

Laura laid a simple track for Canyon that required him to go over a crushed stone path. He was really excited, so did a lot of back and forth along the track. Laura and I walked along behind him, so she mentioned that we might want to start doing a warm-up track, like we used to do with Rogue. Canyon found his corners pretty well, even a 90 degree one. About 30 feet from the end, there was a deflated soccer ball that he just had to have. It took Huib a bit to convince him to continue onto the end while he held the ball for him, but he finished off well. Laura took the deflated soccer ball and said she will use it as his end article for now, since balls seem to be a really high reward.

I’m not sure if he’ll be ready to do a tracking test in the fall, but he seems to be getting the idea, so who knows what the next couple of months will look like.

Arizona’s track was a bit more difficult. I don’t remember there being many issues that Laura pointed out to me. Huib tried to relieve her before the track, but she decided it would be better to just go along it, lol!! Ari is getting better at indicating she has run out of scent and Huib is getting better at reading her. When she found her first article, instead of stopping, she just quickly pawed it, and tried to continue on, lol!!

I think she might be ready to try for her TD this year. I just hope we can find a test where Laura is not judging.

Laura laid a mini UTD track for Rogue. She was pretty stoked to be out working. She over-shot a couple corners, but figured out when she was out of scent and worked her way back without any direction from us. I don’t think she missed any articles and she had some difficult spots along her track, but worked them out perfectly!!

I don’t know what will happen, but maybe this fall will be when she earns her UTD title. I think I will enter both the tests in Guelph and Whitby.

Soon, I think the dogs will be ready to get back into the fields. With my ankle injury, we haven’t wanted to do any field tracking. I am now eight weeks post-injury, so I should be ready soon to get back to hardcore training.

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At 11:00am, our friend Heather and her border terrier, Harley, came to watch the dogs track. Once we were done, we came back to our place to grab some lunch.

It was pretty warm out, so Heather, Huib and I decided to take Harley, Rogue and Arizona swimming at the old Guelph Penitentiary.

Sadly, it looks like the City is about to sell off the property because they have closed off access. We were still able to go in though. We just had to park the cars on the road and then walk in, rather than parking near the old buildings.

I wanted Arizona to do some work before the girls played. Huib went over to the other side of the pond and I set Arizona up. He initially tossed a large black and white bumper for her to retrieve. He wanted to make sure she was going to go into the pond before he tossed in a duck. She did not hesitate at all. She just leaped into the pond and swam right over to the bumper. Once she returned out to me, Huib got ready to toss in a duck. We did three duck retrieves before we unclipped Rogue and Harley from their leashes.

Rogue is not a big fan of swimming. I don’t think it’s that she completely hates it, I just think she gets nervous when she cannot touch the ground. We have life jackets for everyone, so we got one out for Rogue to wear – she had a blast!! I don’t know how many times Huib tossed the bumper in for the girls to retrieve, but most times it was Arizona who got there first and brought it back. Huib held Arizona back a few times, so Rogue could swim out and bring the bumper back without Ari stealing it as she returned. Arizona is a much faster swimmer than Rogue, but I still think our little lab had a good time. I would love her to become a fan of swimming.

Poor Canyon stayed home because he gets hot spots from swimming, and because of his seizures. It is safer for him not to be swimming, even if he wears a life jacket.

When we got home from swimming, Rogue and Arizona fell asleep. We didn’t really hear from the dogs all evening. Even though Canyon didn’t come swimming, I think he was still pretty tired out from tracking and then waiting for us to return from the swim.

Canyon the Therapy Dog

Hello Blog Readers. It’s Canyon here!!

It has been a really long time since Mommy gave me a chance to use the computer. I am going to tell you all about my day.

Every Tuesday, I go to work with Daddy. His work has a pet therapy program and I am one of the dogs who participates.

I LOVE my job!!!

Every Tuesday, Mommy or Daddy combs out my beautiful golden coat. When I see Daddy take my collar off the leash holder, I run over, because I know it’s time to go to work.

I will use today’s schedule as an example of what I do.

Daddy brings me to work and I hang out in our office. At about 10:00am, different recreation people come to take me to a neighbourhood or two before returning me to the office. When I know we are going back, I always pull them there because I don’t want them to get lost and I know Daddy is waiting for me to return.

This morning, I went with three different recreation people to visit residents. After each staff member was done with me, they took me outside for a washroom break – They take such GOOD care of me!!

Over lunch, Daddy has to go help the residents eat, so I take a nap in our office. Then, I get back to work!!

This afternoon, I went with three staff members to visit the neighbourhoods who wanted a second visit.

Once 3:30pm came around, I didn’t really want to go visiting anymore, but I knew the residents were counting on me, so I went.

When I got back to the office, I had a big drink, a few sweet potato treats, and then settled in for a long nap.

My day is always busy, but I love visiting everyone, and I think everyone loves to see me.

I may not work like Rogue, or do fancy retrieve work like Arizona, but I LOVE my job!!!

Hormones

PHEW…the heat cycle adventure is almost over. Arizona is on day 16, so just five more days to go.

This is the fourth time Arizona has been in heat, so we’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what to expect and what to do.

Poor Canyon gets really attracted starting on day 11, so for the second time, he went to visit our friends. Last time, he went for a week, but this time, he was only gone four days.

During his time away, he had a run-in with a skunk – poor guy!! Canyon doesn’t chase or bother anything, but I guess he must have scared the skunk. Thankfully, he only got some spray under his chin, so it wasn’t too bad to clean up. Huib went over to help Mandi, so we could try and prevent hotspots.

On Friday evening he came home. At first, we had just him on leash, but Arizona kept rolling around in front of him or walking by, so we put her on leash too. I sat on one side of the room with a golden and Huib sat on the other with a golden. It worked out pretty well.

Saturday night when I was putting him to bed, he jumped up on our bed to see if Arizona was available, she told him to “PISS OFF!!” LOL!! I had her in her crate, so he wasn’t able to get any more than a sniff.

On Sunday, I had her on the couch with me, while Huib and Canyon fixed some things around the house. At one point, Huib dropped his leash, so he came over to sniff her. She very clearly told him to “SCREW OFF!!”

Poor hormonal Candyman.

Thankfully, he seemed less interested this morning, so hopefully the worst is behind us. He went to work with Huib today and will do the same until at least Wednesday.

Now that she’s less attractive to males, we’ll get back to field classes. If we can swing it, I hope to enter her in a couple of hunt tests in September.

Good Week

Canyon left Monday evening to visit friends for a few days, so Huib and I went to the mall. I wanted to buy a nose plug, as well as a new bathing suit because mine is over 10 years old. We found a nose plug no problem, but the bathing suit will have to wait. There were very few nice ones we saw under $80, which is just a wee bit over my budget, lol!!

We had hoped to go swimming at 9:00pm, but Huib got my cold. We went home and relaxed instead.

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On Tuesday, Arizona was a bit whiny from boredom, or something like that, so I did some level 1 work from Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels. I haven’t really been good about working each week, so I wanted to start out easy, and then we’ll work our way back into level 2. The girls did a good job. Both Rogue and Arizona are definitely able to move right back into level 2.

At 9:00pm, we went to Victoria Road Rec Centre for a swim. The pool was pretty busy, so Huib had to help me avoid others in our lane. It went pretty good. We swam 500 m in 50 minutes. It was nice not having to worry about water going up my nose.

The only problem I had was when I did a sudden left turn and ran into the wall with my head – OUCH!! Huib felt really bad, but there was really nothing he could have done to stop me in time.

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On Wednesday, Huib’s work, had a stampede evening for the residents. Rogue and I went with Huib. I wanted to see the mechanical bull riding contests and to let Rogue socialize with the residents. Unfortunately, it rained after about an hour, so the staff had to quickly move everyone back indoors. When everything was inside, Huib and I walked around the neighbourhoods handing out the stampede snacks. Even though it was rained out after a short time, I still think the residents enjoyed themselves. Rogue and I sat with a couple residents, while Huib helped hand out drinks.

Rogue enjoyed the clean-up part the best. She got to have a couple of the remaining corndogs.

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Thursday evening, Huib and I went to the 50 m swim at Victoria Road. We had to take a break at 25 m, but it went okay. We swam 500 m in 50 minutes.

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This weekend was a bit quieter than others because we needed to keep the goldens apart.

On Saturday, Huib and I went to the Westend Rec Centre’s 1:00pm swim. It was pretty busy at the pool, so we ended up taking shorter breaks at each end. In total, we swam 600 m in 50 minutes. We also did some leg work.

After swimming, we came back to pick up Rogue and Canyon. I wanted to get him away from Arizona for a bit, so his hormones could calm down. We went to Rens to get some cat food, then I stayed in the car with the dogs, while Huib went to grab a few groceries.

On Sunday, we cleaned the house and did some laundry. Huib installed a couple new outlets that have USB slots in them – VERY COOL!!!

We also did some things on our “To Do List.” The dollar is quite good at the moment, so Huib ordered the general golden retriever panel for Arizona on Paw Print Genetics, and then signed her and I up for a couple classes through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.

As mentioned before, as part of her health clearances for breeding, we are doing some genetic testing. Paw Print has a 50% off sale, so quite a good deal with our dollar being higher.

This term we are going to do a skateboarding class with Donna Hill and another gun dog class, that focuses on water retrieves, with Cassia Turcotte.

I know Arizona will enjoy the skateboarding class, but I am hoping Rogue will also like it.

Until next time. Stay safe and enjoy the sun!!