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Doggy Times

The original dog blog!

5 Steps to Help Prevent and Ease Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is something that a lot of owners have to deal with. They walk out the door and their dog starts going nuts. The dog scratches at the door, tears up the blinds and curtains, and barks and cries. Some dogs even start panicking when their owner grabs the keys.

So how do you prevent this behavior in dogs? Is there a way to stop it once it’s gotten worse? Let’s explore your options.

Firstly, it is important to know that it is far easier to prevent separation anxiety than it is to cure it. The problem is that once a dog learns to become anxious, they don’t pay attention to much else than getting the owner to come back. But there are a few things you can do to help. These suggestions are the best way to prevent dogs from developing separation anxiety too.

1.) Change your routine every time you leave. Maybe your routine is to get dressed, grab your phone and keys, and then head out the door. Keep in mind that dogs are very good at picking up on patterns we humans tend to fall into. So change it up every time, and you will help prevent your dog from finding a pattern to panic about.

2.) Offer a treat of some kind before you leave. Now, you want this treat to be something that will take a little while for the dog to eat. But it also has to be something the dog really wants. Kongs, or kong like toys, stuffed with a bit of the dog’s food and then capped off with peanut butter or liver paste works well. If you have a heavy chewer, freezing the kong overnight is a good option and will make the treat take a bit longer to finish. Make sure to put a dab of fresh peanut butter or liver paste on the treat after pulling it out of the freezer to help entice your dog. The idea here, is to distract your dog and simultaneously reward them for not noticing you slip out the door.

3.) Desensitize your dog. This just means to get them used to you walking out the door. Practice leaving. Grab your keys, your wallet/purse, sunglasses, and head out the door like you would normally. Close the door behind you and wait ten seconds or so. Then come back in. Do this over and over and over repeatedly everyday for about 20 minutes. Make sure to reset the scene by putting your items back when you come in. Then grab them again as you walk out. Completely ignore your dog while doing this. Your dog may be panicking, barking, howling, crying, etc. Ignore, ignore, ignore! What happens is your dog will start to learn that there is no reason to panic! You are coming right back and he can count on that. Increase the time you wait before coming back in as your dog gets better at this exercise, and your dog’s tolerance will begin to lengthen. If your dog does not have separation anxiety, this is still a good exercise to help prevent it.

4.) Take an AKC Canine Good Citizen class. These classes are designed to help pooch parents teach their dogs good manners. Sometimes at the end of these classes they administer a test, which if passed grants the pooch parent a nice certificate. Quite a few therapy dog organizations use this test for their therapy dogs. The last item on the test is to have the owner walk away out of sight for 3 minutes while they leave their dog with a stranger. Sometimes this stranger is the teacher of the class and other times it is a volunteer. But it is a great way to get some live help if your dog has separation anxiety. Classes vary in price, but you will learn more than just how to keep your dog from panicking  while you’re away. You’ll also learn how to teach your four-legged friend some valuable behaviors such as; sit, stay, come, walking on a leash, and how to greet strangers without jumping! Whether you take the test or not, CGC classes are a great tool for any dog owner. Find CGC trainers in your area on the AKC website.

5.) Crate train. Some people are totally against crating dogs. But it doesn’t have to be all bad! Dogs are natural den dwellers. Spruce up their crates with stuff to nest with like blankets or towels. Puppies do better in crates if they have something to cuddle with like a stuffed animal of some kind. Often times, people just stick their dogs in a kennel with nothing in it and expect the dog to be okay with that, and some dogs are. But a lot of dogs cry and scream in their crates simply because it feels more like a cage than a den. The more you make the crate their own personal space, the better for the dog.. and the better for you.

Not only does crate training help keep dogs from going nuts in the crate, but it also keeps them from destroying your home. You can find tips for crate training on this blog, or contact your local trainer for some lessons. Crate training has many benefits from potty training to traveling. Crates are only negative if they are made to seem more like a prison cell and less like a den. Meaning, dogs should not always be locked in an empty crate with no food or water. They should have access to it whether you are home or not. They should be able to eat in their crates (great for eliminating unwanted begging at the dinner table by the way) and sleep in their crates anytime… comfortably. I recommend a few blankets at least, and a chew toy they like for when they feel stressed.

In the end, if none of these options are viable, or do not work for you, then your best option is to contact a behaviorist in your area. Not all dogs are the same. Each dog has their own personality and learned behaviors. Some are simply more stubborn than others. A behaviorist will be able to evaluate your individual case and customize a solution just for you and your dog.

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The Energy You Project.

I have always said to my clients, “The energy you project is the energy you will receive.” But what does this really mean and how can we use it to train our dogs? That’s what I hope to explain in this blog.

Emotional energy is a force we all emit to one another. It is the force that allows us to determine someone’s mood and mindset. Energy is the reason we can walk into a room and feel tension, sadness, or great joy. It is multiplied significantly when multiple people are sharing the same energy which makes it even easier to read or pick up on. In essence, emotional energy is our emotions projected into the world around us.

All living creatures can read and give off energy. From humans, fish and reptiles, to cats and dogs, and as some would argue, even plants. Why is this? Because knowing how another living thing feels can save our lives. It’s partially a defense mechanism, but it is also helpful in social situations. It can help build bonds that last a life time, but also create enemies. Emotional energy is a very powerful and useful force that is often over-looked.

Body language is another big part of understanding how another living creature is feeling. That is why it is so important to learn what your dog’s body language means. But that is a different blog all together. Let’s stay focused on energy.

The basic meaning of this saying is simple. If you project anger at someone, you are likely to get anger back. If you project joy, you are likely to get joy back. The same is true with dogs. If you project frustration and anger at your dog, your dog is likely to return it to you instead of respect. Dogs won’t obey unstable energy. To them, this kind of energy is dangerous. So when they encounter it, confident dogs will challenge it. They will let you know in their own doggy way that your energy is not fit for leadership and you shouldn’t be dishing out rules. Sometimes they achieve this through playful behavior to tell you they mean no harm, but they still cannot follow you. Other times, they may down right come at you by biting and lunging because you are acting like a threat to them. For many dogs, biting is a last resort. But some dogs have been conditioned that biting gets things done and so it becomes their go to move. How does that happen? Someone wasn’t projecting the right energy and they let their dog get away with it.

Puppies, on the other hand, are still learning what is acceptable and what is not. Between the ages of about 2 months to 1 year old, it is very important to establish yourself as a stable leader. Projecting assertive but calm energy when enforcing rules is the best and fastest way to go about this. You want to earn your dog’s respect as quickly as possible so they either do not feel the need to try and challenge you, or at least submit more easily after misbehaving. If its the latter, this behavior will improve over time if you are consistent about enforcing your rules as well as the energy your project. The pup will eventually learn that yes, you are going to enforce your rules every single time in a very calm and assertive way, and no harm will come to them. Hence they do not need to run from you.

So lets say your puppy gets in the trash and takes off with a piece in their mouth. You are assertive and calm and say, “Aht! Emily, drop it.” in a deep voice. You walk towards her but then she starts using the coffee table to block you. What do you do? Should you follow her in circles around the coffee table? No. Of course not. Find a way to block her. Move the coffee table closer to the couch, or put something on one side so she can’t run in circles. Then, when she’s cornered, ask her to drop it again. 7 out of 10 times, she probably will understand she’s been defeated and will drop it. You might also notice an immediate change in the energy she projects; going from energetic and somewhat playful to submissive and somewhat insecure. The energy you are projecting throughout this scenario will impact the outcome significantly. Stay calm, pick up the object, and simply walk away. You have won and nothing more needs to be done. Continue this pattern every time she steals something and she will learn fast. You should notice her energy return to a playful/happy nature after you walk away if she is emotionally stable and healthy. On the other hand, if you get frustrated, mad, upset, cry, scream and yell, etc.. you are more likely to lose the battle. Your dog will learn that you are not in control of your own energy and emotions, so there is no way you can lead her.

But lets say your dog doesn’t drop it when you get close. Then what? If her energy seems off, she is growling, or you sense danger.. promptly call a behaviorist in your area for assistance. This is not the type of energy you can safely change without professional experience and knowledge. There may be an underlying issue causing the dog to project this kind of energy that needs to be addressed by a professional. Its important to stay calm to prevent injury to yourself, and do not attempt to challenger her.

Ever hear that old saying, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you”? Energy is the same way. When we project it to our dogs, they read it and react. Since dogs do not really contemplate how to behave by nature, they simply bounce the energy we give them back to us. Of course there are some exceptions. Some dogs learn to behave a certain way due to conditioning. They may have learned not to trust people at all, for example. But at their very core, they want to project the energy we give them back to us. Breaking through the conditioned responses is something that we behaviorists have to master in order to be successful at what we do. So don’t get discouraged if you have a troubled dog. He simply has been conditioned to be the glue and not the rubber, and he’s got way too much bad energy stuck to him.

In conclusion, energy is a force that helps us decide how to react in certain situations. It is second nature and often over-looked. If you learn to master your emotional energy, you will have a lot more success with your dog. Dogs respect stable, calm, and assertive energy and will challenge unstable, static, and frustrated energy. To learn more about the different types of energy related to dogs specifically, please read Understanding Energy.

**Keep in mind that there can be and usually are several variables that dictate how each individual situation should be handled. The examples above merely provide very general advice. Your solution may differ.**

 

 

As Time Goes By

As we all know, life flies by in a hurry. It seems like just yesterday I was with my family sitting around the Christmas tree opening gifts. Now here it is August! Where does the time go?

The same thing has happened with this blog. I have been so busy with life and other things that I have not had time to keep this poor blog updated. I am glad, however, that so many of you have still found my old scribblings so useful!

I remember when I wrote my first post here back in 2005. The blog was over at MSN actually. MSN recognized my little blog twice! Those were the days! Now, it is 2016 and I have gained even more experience and wisdom since then. Looking back at this blog, well, it brings back a lot of good memories.

Well fellow dog lovers, I am not going to ramble on about the past here. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to those of you whom have kept this blog alive over the years. I do plan to start blogging again. Perhaps an update once a week or so. We’ll see.

I am also able to pay more attention to your questions now. So please feel free to ask in the comment section. And as always, you can find me over at facebook. Simply search for The Canine Guru.

S.P.R.E.D. The Five Essentials Every Dog Needs

Dogs are like us in many ways. They live within families that we call packs. They work together, have rules, and take care of one another. They live within a society, although it’s not quite as advanced as ours. Some get along great, while others struggle, just as we do with each other. In this note/article/blog or whatever it is, I’d like to talk briefly about my most recent findings while studying dog behavior. After all, all of us scientist types have to publish our findings one way or another. 🙂

I’ve developed a new system of helping dogs during the rehabilitation process. Or, I should say, I’ve recently organized it into a system. I’ve been using this system for years, but never really had a name or system for it. I guess that’s part of the growth process though. We all eventually find a way to organize our thoughts and opinions. Here are the five necessities I’ve identified as the key elements each dog needs to maintain happiness and stability. I call it S.P.R.E.D. (Maybe I should tattoo it on my knuckles like the love guru and his D.R.A.M.A method- no? Okay).

1.) Structure – This simply means that dogs require a structured lifestyle. They need a leader and rules. They need to know who’s in charge and who’s there to love them. Basically, they need a family of some kind. Even stray dogs are known to pack up with each other to survive. Lone wolves are not alone for too long. They eventually find a mate and start a new pack. Structure is important, as even the canine kind need love and support! But structure is also a foundation to build upon. And without a good structure, you cannot have a happy dog.

2. Purpose – I believe that purpose is the driving force behind all living things. With out purpose, what’s the point? Why are we here? Dogs need purpose too. Dogs need to know what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Or in other words, they need a job. Whether it’s to love you, comfort you, or keep the mailman away, they need something to do and a good reason to do it. If you do not give your dog a purpose, he/she will find one for him/herself and you may not like it.

3. Routine – Dogs love routine. They thrive and count on it. Dogs need to know when their walk is coming, or when you are coming home for work. They love knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Although dogs can handle surprises well, they prefer to know what’s coming. They will even keep you to the routine after it’s established. If it’s time to walk and you forget, they may remind you by bringing you the leash. Or if it’s time to eat, they may dig at the bowl or bring it to you. Routines can even be loosely based. For instance, my dogs don’t eat at certain times during the day. They eat as soon as the humans finish. If we don’t immediately feed them after we finish eating, I end up with a bowl in my hands and a whining dog staring me down.

4. Exercise – This doggy necessity is one that you’d think was the most obvious. However, a lot of people neglect to provide their dogs with the exercise they require. All dogs need to be walked every day. Even if they are small dogs that do not require vigorous exercise, they still need to get out and move. Dogs can get “cabin fever” just as people do, which can lead to unhealthy behavior problems. Walking your dog is not only good exercise, it’s also a great way to bond with your dog and establish leadership outside of the home. A dog with a lot of energy and no where to direct that energy, means trouble. Dogs will find somewhere to get rid of that excess energy, and that could mean destroyed furniture to you. Ever heard the saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog?”

5. Discipline – The least favorite of the five, but definitely one of the most important. Discipline is a necessity that even dogs will enforce on each other, and sometimes on their people. With out discipline there is no order. All living things need discipline to stay on track. This does not mean hitting, spanking, electrocuting, or anything harsh. It simply means that the rules of the pack get enforced by the pack member that sets the rules.. the most entitled. Dogs will bite, nip, or tackle each other. They also muzzle one another to assert authority. Without discipline, the pack would be in a state of total chaos.

So there you have it. The SPRED method and what each part means in a nutshell. 5 essential things every dog needs to live a happy life. Structure, Purpose, Routine, Exercise, and Discipline.

Please let me know what you think, and please click SHARE (Facebook users) to share with your friends who may not know about this page. Also check out my Facebook page at facebook.com/thecanineguru. I’d like to inspire as many people as possible to be better pet parents. Thanks, and may you find patience and peace.

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Have a behavior question for me about your dog? Just ask, and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can! God bless. 😀

Understanding Energy

I have been experimenting with energy relating to dogs for a long time. I have come to the conclusion that there are five different types. In this note I will share with you what I have learned. You can use this information when working with your dog and actually see, in some cases, its effects on your dog.

So what do I mean when I say energy? The energy that I am referring to here is simply the output of your emotions. So when you feel a certain way, you emit energy that other people and animals can feel and read. This energy can be output with words, body language, touch, and in some cases smell. Energy is not some magical and mystical force, it is real and we use it everyday. When you know your spouse is sad, you are feeling his/her energy. When you know your dog is happy, you are feeling his/her energy.

Another persons energy can even make you feel a certain way. Your level of compassion determines this, but lets say that your best friend’s parents have been involved in a terrible accident and have passed away. Your best friend is distraught. You know she is distraught because she is crying uncontrollably. You have just read her body language and her energy. Of course she is conveying a very sad energy, and it’s probably static (you’ll read what static energy is in a minute) but because she is your best friend and you have lots of compassion for her, you feel sad too. You may even begin to cry with her. Her energy is strong enough to make you feel the same way she does.

Even though it is not talked about very often, and some people are never told about it, energy is a very powerful and common force. It connects us to each other and our animals. Our level of compassion increases or decreases it’s effects, but nun-the-less, we all use and feel energy. We even learn to use it with out even knowing what it is.

Here are the five types of energy described as best as I can in words. These forms of energy apply to all living things, but this is really geared more towards the human and dog relationship. This is subject to change, as I am still researching this subject. However, these five types seem the most prudent in my line of work.

Static Energy: Think of a ball of electricity. Unstable, sparks flying everywhere, and very unorganized. This is how I picture static energy. I picture it as floating around and shocking whatever is in it’s path. It can make you feel mad, upset, frustrated, and angry. Some people may even feel like the Incredible Hulk when conveying this energy. People, and dogs, that convey this type of energy are very unbalanced, have short tempers, generally have little patience, and are often edgy. These are the people, or dogs, that you feel you must “walk on eggshells” around. Static energy is chaos, and only contributes to more chaos. Example: Two dogs get into a fight, to break them up you stomp your feet, scream at the top of your lungs, and panic. You are conveying static energy, and it will only make things worse.

Free Flowing Energy: I picture this kind of energy as a strong and steady stream. If you get in it’s path, it will not hurt you, but it is very persistent and pushes past you. Free Flowing Energy is stable, calm, peaceful, and firm. It is generally easy going and always patient. This strong form of energy is what I teach my clients to gain control of their dogs. It is totally opposite from static energy. Buddhist monks are known for displaying this kind of energy when teaching new students. Jesus conveyed this energy to his disciples. It takes self-discipline to completely master and maintain this form of energy. Free flowing energy dominates other forms energy. It stems from confidence and assertiveness. Example: Your dog barks at you because he is not getting his way. You calmly and firmly use your body to block and correct him until he submits. Once he has submitted, you let it go and walk away.

Avoidant Energy: This form of energy is conveyed through avoidance. It can be as unstable as static energy, but is never as stable as free flowing energy. Dogs and people who are constantly giving off this form of energy usually have poor social skills and are typically bullied. They are considered easy targets because they usually will not fight back or stand up for themselves. They would rather avoid confrontation all together and are easily offended, but generally keep it to themselves. Prey animals often display this type of energy to predators. When people or dogs who commonly convey this type of energy are forced to react, they usually do so with static energy. They loose control and snap, or go into a fear response. Example: You take your dog to the dog park for the first time, only to discover that she will not interact with the other dogs. She simply follows you around and ignores everything else. She is not aggressive, or fearful, she simply doesn’t care to interact. She is weary, but not scared. When another dog begins to mount her and she can’t ignore it, she snaps at the other dog and retreats.

Anxious Energy: This type of energy comes from worry. People, and dogs, who cannot relax because they are worried or even paranoid display this type of energy. Dogs with separation anxiety often display this type of energy just before their owner leaves. After the owner leaves, they display static energy. Anxious energy is very unstable and chaotic. It stems from, fear, worry, and paranoia.

Passive Energy: I consider this form of energy just as balanced as free flowing energy, but not as firm. This is the energy you should feel from your dog. It conveys submission. Dogs and people that convey this energy are not scared, anxious, weary, or overly excited. They are generally calm and easy going. They look for someone to lead them, guide them, and direct them. They may have trouble making decisions for themselves, and almost always look up to someone. When confronted, people and dogs with this kind of energy will simply submit and try to please. People and especially dogs that convey this type of energy are generally very happy. Example: Your dog is laying in your path as you are walking somewhere. When he sees you, he happily gets up and moves out of your way. As you walk by, he gives you that look that seems to happily and gently ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Understanding the different forms of energy can help you not only relate better to your dogs, it can help you in life. Or at least, it has for me. It is important to note that no one is locked into any one form of energy. It is changeable. You simply need to practice another form. It’s not easy, however, because everything about you will tell you to react with a certain kind of energy, or in a certain way. You consciously have to decide to react with the energy you wish to project. In other words, if you feel as though your main energy output is usually anxious and you like to project free flowing energy, it is totally possible. Although you will have to get over your instinct to be anxious. You must make your self interact with a calm and firm energy. Anxious energy and an avoidant energy will be more difficult  to change than static and passive. But this does not mean you shouldn’t try. Rehabilitating dogs is doing just this. Changing the core energy output from static, avoidant, anxious, and even free flowing on occasion to passive. A passive dog, is a happy dog and makes for a happy owner.

Also, you should be aware that it is possible to emit other emotions while within these five different core energy forms. For example, you can be excited and static, or excited and passive, or excited and free flowing, etc. A dog that is excited and static will be bounding off the walls, running around, barking, possibly biting and nipping at others, etc. While a dog that is excited and passive will have a low wagging tail, prancing feet, maybe the occasional half jump, etc. A dog that is excited and free flowing will have a mid to high quick tail wag and will be watching your every move. It is a calmer form of excitement. The dog may be assertive if you ignore his cues to play, dropping the ball in your lap, the occasional bark, pawing at you, etc.

When it comes to this type of energy, it can get quite confusing. Just try to remember the basics.

Free Flowing energy: Patient, calm, assertive, balanced.

Static Energy: Unbalanced, chaotic, unorganized, emotional.

Avoidant Energy: Unbalanced, stand offish, lame.

Anxious Energy: Nervous, fearful, unbalanced, paranoid.

Passive Energy: Balanced, calm, submissive, happy-go-lucky.

Examples of the five different core energy types are below. I’ve tried to include an example of different forms of each core energy type as well. As you will see, the core energy types are neither bad or good, but what each of the characters make them. However different each character emits their form of core energy, you’ll notice some common denominators:

Free Flowing: Jesus Christ, Buddhist monks, Spock (Star Trek), Gandhi, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs), Fonzie (Happy Days), Shadow (Homeward Bound), President Obama

Static: Han Solo (Star Wars), The Joker (Batman), Chance (Homeward Bound), Mel Gibson

Avoidant: Brick (The Middle), Max (Parenthood), Walt Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino), Sassy (Homeward Bound)

Anxious: Judas, Scooby Doo and Shaggy, Jesse Ventura, Dr. Samuel Loomis (Halloween)

Passive: Norman Bates (Psycho) (as himself, not as his mother), Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings), Lassie

Doggy Times Is Now at WordPress.com

Well, I suppose MSN got tired of messing with blogs. They have now transferred all their blogs to WordPress.com. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. WordPress.com seems to have a lot more features and a cleaner look. Although the blog has a new look, all of the same content is here. Trying to go to the old web address should redirect you to the new web address which is now… doggytimes.wordpress.com.

MSN Windows Live removes “Statistics” feature from Spaces

MSN has been good to me. After all, I do have this space, and I can share my knowledge of dogs with you. They featured this space 3 or 4 times in the past. Back when they had the "What’s Your Story" hub page. It’s sad that they got rid of that page. There are some cool features here at MSN Spaces though, like being able to use HTML, Windows Media Player, writing blog entries from my desktop, and theme settings. But let’s face it, most blog sites offer these features. There have been WAY too many ads here too. Ads with links that people leave as comments. For a long time, there was nothing you could do about those ads except delete them. It got so bad that I had to suspend comments. But MSN FINALLY fixed that, and now you can delete these AND report them as spam from the Spaces home page. About time!

Their latest venture, however, has me very aggravated. MSN has done away with the "Statistics" feature for Spaces!!! THIS REALLY SUCKS! The statistic feature allowed us bloggers to keep track of how many visitors our space was getting and from which links those hits were coming from. Now… WE CAN’T! When I first started this blog, I remember being excited about checking to see how many space views I was getting. The information from that feature helped me promote this space! For business owners using a blog to help get a business off the ground, or to see which topics their customers engage in the most, this was a VERY important feature! Alas, it’s gone. No more tracking views. No more information about which topics get the most hits. How are we to blog if we don’t know what you, the readers want? Sure, they still allow comments, but the majority of readers don’t comment. Even if they enjoyed the blog entry.

MSN says that as they improve Spaces they have to trade off features from time to time. WHAT?!!?! What feature could be better or worth trading for statistics?! That was a very useful feature, if not the most useful! MSN, BRING IT BACK! We bloggers want to know how many people view our space and what blog entries they are viewing, more than we want to play music, or do some of these other silly things. Why didn’t you think to ask spaces bloggers before getting rid of this feature? More than likely, we would have voted against getting rid of it.

I have been blogging here for 5 years now. But I don’t think it’s worth blogging here any more, because I simply don’t know which topics are getting the most views. And why would I want to waste my time adding to this space, if I don’t even know if people are reading it? BIG MISTAKE MSN! Even Facebook offers statistics for it’s pages! And Webs.com offers statistics. Most blogging sites have statistics, why would you get rid of them?

Until MSN decides to give us back our statistics, I probably won’t be adding to this space anymore. I might do the occasional product review, but what’s the point of adding dog facts and information if I don’t know that you the reader are even reading it? If you need help with your pooch, you’re better off joining me on Facebook.

Ok, enough ranting. Leave me a comment if you read this review on MSN Spaces, because I won’t know you read it unless you do.  🙂

Would you like to share pics of your dogs on Doggy Times?

If you would like to share photos of your pooch with Doggy Times readers, then send those pics to thecanineguru@gmail.com.

Please make sure that pics are no more than 100kb in size. Pics will be added to the Reader’s Dogs photo gallery for all readers to see.

So what are you waiting for, send me those pics! (Funny pics, Professional pics, Cute pics, & Trick pics may be considered for future contests).

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