Pace and Lick

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If you’ve been trying to prepare for what seems to be already here – as by making provisions to provide your own food when you can no longer afford to buy food – it might be worth considering making another investment.

In a dog.

If that sounds counterintuitive – dogs eat lots of food, which you will have to provide in order to keep the dog operational – consider what you get in return for the investment.

First and above all, a security alarm that will go off even if the power isn’t turned on. Even a very friendly dog that won’t bite – or who isn’t big enough for his bite to be of much consequence – will usually bark. He will let you know there is something you should know. Whether it is about someone – or something – that might otherwise go unnoticed, until it is too late.

For example, if you have chickens or ducks (maybe both, plus geese!) as we do. We let our birds free-range – that is, we let them forage for food in the yard – because it is healthier for them, better for the eggs they produce, nutritionally as well as insofar as how they taste – and free for us. But it comes with a cost – one you’re more likely to end up having to pay, if you haven’t got a dog. That being the loss of some or even all of your birds to a fox or some other predator, who may kill them all before you even notice.

The presence of a dog – even in his physical absence (as when he’s in the house, with you) acts as a deterrent to foxes and other predators, who can smell his presence, even when’s he’s not around at any given moment. The dog’s poop and pee lets them know he’s nearby and that is often enough. If he is an outside dog, even better. Very few predators – even bears – will attempt to breach a coop if there is a barking dog letting you know they’re there.

The same is true as regards the more dangerous type of predators. The ones who may try to breach your home. These can get inside your home while you are asleep – and by the time you wake up, it may be very much too late. A dog inside the house may not be able to stop the predator – but his bark should give you the time to be ready to do just that. Instead of waking up to find a creep with a gun standing over your bed, the creep may find himself looking down the barrel of your gun, as it ought to be.

The creep will probably not even try to breach if he hears a barking dog. It is a much more effective deterrent than one of those octagonal blue signs at the head of the driveway. Creeps of this variety know well that when seconds count, help – as from the security company – is only minutes away. Probably longer, as the security company has to first call the crime historians we call “police,” who then have to respond. If you live in the country, that kind of “help” may take half an hour or longer to arrive. Hence crime historians.

This assumes there are crime historians around in our not-so-good-looking future. It is not improbable that there won’t be. In which case, it is even more probable you will not be able to call upon them for help.

But your dog will always be on duty. And that means you’ll be more likely to be ready. His mere presence is apt to cause a two-legged predator to try elsewhere, for just that reason and also because it is hard to know, in the dark of night, whether an unknown dog’s bark is worse than his bite. That plus a few plainly visible brass (and plastic) casings littered around the apron of doors and windows where predator are apt to notice them is arguably the best kind of security.

It’s why we recently added a dog to our menagerie of beasts, which of course includes us. It is a symbiotic relationship that everyone benefits from. The birds give us eggs and meat. We give the birds food to eat and a place to safely sleep. The dog – a mixed lab-sheperd, who is only about five months old and already more than 50 pounds – gives us (and them) security as well as companionship.

We named him Pace – because he does that. He also licks – but Pace and Lick was too long. He also barks – and even though he’s sweet-natured as labs almost always are – anything on four legs or two that doesn’t know that might think otherwise when they hear him, in the dark of the night.

. . .

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  1. Our big guy is a shepherd lab mix. He looks like a big black german shepherd with floppy ears.

    he tips the scales at 90 lbs. He has this deep bass growl, like the monster at Jabba the Hut’s dungeon on Return of the Jedi. That’s the last sound you want to hear if you broke in. He also has a deep “I’ll eat your soul” bark.

    With the other two (Both lab mixes at 70 lbs) no one screws with my property, even though I live on the corner of a busy street.

    The other benefit is they chase rats and squirrels away from the gardens, and will flat out kill either. We haven’t had one coyote or bobcat anywhere near, even though I’ve seen them prowling in the neighborhood.

    So good move. They can sense trouble a mile away.

  2. Awesome dog, Eric! I likes the dags. 🙂

    I have a standard poodle, and though she can be a hand-full, she’s also very loyal and smart, and she takes defending my property very seriously.

    • Thanks, BaDnOn!

      He’s already more than doubled in size – and he’s got more energy than a case of Red Bull, guzzled all at once. He’s on. Until he (finally) goes off (at which point he sleeps). We’ve found he has no interest in taking off if let off the leash. He always stays within our orbit and I really like that about him. We’ve also got him trained to be around the birds – I mean, to not eat them! He tried to chase a few but we corrected that easily enough and now he will hang out nearby without bothering them – but (hopefully) ready to bother any fox or raccoon that might want to bother the birds.

      It’s work, of course. But overall it’s nice to have a dawg again. I probably wouldn’t have had it not been for my girlfriend. She knew how much I missed my last dawg, though – and got me over his being gone and so here we are!

      • As many have said already, and I’m sure you are aware, the more work/training you do now w/him, pays off big-time. As always, easy to say, hard to do.
        This will probably set off a controversy, but my favorite training tool is an E-collar. They now do just beeps, vibrate, or shock. The dog doesn’t understand who/what is happening, just that it;s not pleasant. And along with verbal commands, they almost always learn well.
        My current dog only needs beeps as a reminder to do what I’m saying, and he’s still getting better at it all the time almost to the point I don’t need the collar anymore. But they also will regress over time without it.
        A good friend trains hunting dogs and he’s taught me a lot.

        • Indeed, Chris –

          Pace is sitting here with me right now. He’s proving to be a very smart dog. I think it’s the shepherd side of him. He looks entirely like a lab, though – and has that sweetness/playfulness that I really like. We have already 97 percent trained him to be calm and protective around the birds. Every now and then, he gets excited and forgets… and begins to chase one. And then we chasten him. I think in three or four months he’s going to be a fine dawg!

      • I’m glad you decided to get another “dawg”, Eric. He’ll make you happy when nothing else will. And I know what you mean about energy. My dog will dart and bound around the back yard like a furry pinball. Oh, and I’m sure you’ll find Pace to be a great running companion like I do mine!

    • Bad,
      My son has a standard poodle as well. Because of their hypoallergenic properties, and my grandson’s allergies. They don’t shed. I had no idea how high maintenance they were because they DON”T shed. Their hair never stops growing. On any part of them.
      He is a good dog in general though. Very obedient, and always on patrol, when he’s outside. Even though my son’s family spoils him rotten, and won’t kick him outside if he doesn’t want to go. As in lately, with temps in the mid to upper 90s. I can’t fault his family too much though. Once had a 200 pound Saint Bernard that would stay in the house for three days straight in the heat of the summer, no pee or poop. Of course he would also lay down and go to sleep in the snow. He was pretty high maintenance too. Weekly, or more, two hour brushings, or else a four or five hour brushing next week. Sheared him in the summer.

      • John,

        Yeah, I’d assume that a Saint Bernard probably doesn’t care for those temperatures. My poodle doesn’t seem to mind, though. She’s ready to go for a run any time of day, though her dad isn’t always. 😉

        And yes, the maintenance can be a bit taxing. Grooming is a necessity, at least every 2 months. And then there are baths, because that dog likes to get dirty and fast. But it’s all worth it.

  3. crap, I just realized why all my chickens got eaten by a bear many years ago. Our wonderful dobie had recently died prior. how dumb of me not to realize it. I guess we just got used to her running off all the bears, etc… for 10 years. Her bear bark was something to witness, wholly crap it was a blood curtling thing. She was an outdoor dobie that ran the farm, new her property lines, walked the kids to the bus, and just protected the family from everything. getting a little choked up thinking about her. My favorite thing she did was after chasing off a bear, sometimes it took hours if she treed it, she would come back home with her chest puffed out “look what I did dad” 🙂
    The second funniest thing was she would chase deer forever and always stop at the property line (no e-fence or any fence, she just learned her boundaries and never strayed), obviously never could get one, until one day we were doing our daily long walk, this time in deep snow and a poor young deer was weak from no food for a while and my dog caught it, and took it down, but she didn’t know what to do next, or was just shocked. She looked at me “look what I did!, now what?” haha… She did nip at the deers neck but did no damage. I had finally caught up to her, almost heart attack time for me, with the deep snow, and pulled her off the deer. The deer sat for a while finally getting up and wandering off very slowly. I doubt he/she made it though.
    Best of luck with the new dog Eric.

    • I miss my dobie. No one will ever know what it is like to have your own secret service agent until you have a dobie. All of my dogs know how to “speak” for a treat but the dobe never would “speak”. He was a soldier who would only bark if there was a real issue afoot, except when driving by cow pastures. He would bark at cows like mad and even absent cows, the hay bails looked enough like cows to be upset about, lol.

  4. Dogs worm their way into your heart, you can’t help it.

    Watch the movie Togo.

    Had a Malinois/retriever, best dog I ever had. Could outrun deer and even fox.

    Stared down 2000 lb bull and herded the bull back home.

  5. Here is another view on dogs. I am not “anti-dog” by any means, but am merely critiquing irresponsible dog owners:
    Are you the alpha male for your dogs? If so, good for you…if not, YOU are the problem.
    The problem is that many dog owners are either stupid or just ignorant and unaware of their dog’s behavior and idiosyncrasies.
    Every friend of mine that owns dogs is impervious to the smell that their houses and furniture get from having dogs living with them, not to mention the hair, urine and fecal smell that their dogs and abodes secrete. However, such disgusting smells can be minimized.
    Some dog owners are so “brainwashed” that dogs actually control them. They put up with behavior from their dogs that they would not allow a human to do.
    Rather than the human owner being the “alpha male” which is the normal, proper order of things, the dog is the “alpha male” ruling the dog owner who is too stupid to see that he is being manipulated by an animal.
    Inconsiderate dog owners just laugh when their untrained, undisciplined dog “humps” the legs of visitors or begs for food by jumping on visitors, thinking that their dog’s behavior is “cute”.
    One of my pet peeves is sitting at the dinner table as a guest and having their dog bump and nuzzle, begging for food. THAT is a major irritant, in my book. If I can get away with it, a good “push” usually stops that behavior. There are those that disagree, saying it is up to the dog’s owner to discipline the dog, but I beg to differ with that assessment as the dog should have already been trained and restricted from the dinner table when guests are dining.
    A well-trained dog should NEVER beg for food and should be restricted from areas where and when humans are eating. Treats are given for reinforcing good behavior and are a valuable tool in which to reinforce and reward good behavior. Begging for food destroys that reinforcement.
    Dogs crapping everywhere is but another inconsideration that many dog owners overlook or ignore. Most dog owners do not pick up after their dogs, especially in public areas.
    I have run into many dog owners who insist that their dogs won’t bite, despite their snarling unfriendly behavior.
    Dogs can be valuable assets and, when in their place, actually enjoy the jobs that they are given, examples being on a farm, guarding and herding livestock or protecting the household. Undisciplined dogs are the result when owners do not give them something to do.
    Well-behaved dogs who know their place can be a pleasure, but unfortunately there are too many dogs and dog owners who need to “trade places”.
    I’m ready for the brickbats…

    • Other dog peeves include, but are not limited to…
      Barking at everything. Owners get desensitized to the constant barking until the alerts are akin to crying wolf.
      Dogs jumping up on people, counters, doors, sills and cars body work. They scratch you and f-up your sh*t.
      Dogs f-up your cars interior bigly.
      They roll in rancid carcasses and eat sh*t. Keep ’em away from the catbox. Crunch crunch crunch.
      Better keep your trash locked up tight else it’ll be torn to bits and scattered about when you return.
      Think twice about letting that meat thaw or leftovers cool unattended.
      The inevitable cat-dog brawl in the house or garage that results in carnage and broken sh*t everywhere.
      …and yes, the stank and scunge…
      What a nightmare. Best of luck with it though. I’d be more worried about the carnage a girlfriend can unleash by comparison.

    • Anarchyst,
      I agree, too many dog owners don’t understand canine pack behavior. They REQUIRE someone be the pack leader. If you won’t do it, they will. Your assumption that the alpha must be male is erroneous. Alpha females are common among dogs. Even the wild variety. As far as how a dog treats visitors, I find it quite easy to quickly convince them this visitor won’t tolerate it. But then, I understand dogs, and they understand me.
      As far as odor goes, if you have a couple of 100+ pound dogs living in the house, there will be dog odor. Unless you wash them every day, or even once a week, which is not healthy for a dog. It should be reserved for skunk contact or rolling in feces etc.
      On the other hand, the worst dog behavior pales in comparison to far too much people behavior. Are not people dumping on the street in San Francisco?

      • Hi John,

        As an owner of a set of big dogs, upkeep is key. The house does have to be swept and vacuumed daily, because dogs shed and they carry in dirt and other outside contagions on their skin. I have been too many houses where no dog odor was prevalent and others where it was absolutely horrible.

        The biggest culprit I have found is what the dog eats. Many people feed their dogs crap. Most of the dog food brands out there are just that. Dogs require all natural foods, like humans…lean meats, yogurt, fresh vegetables, and complex carbs keep a dog’s coat shiny, breath fresh, and it doesn’t secrete unpleasant scents. It also does wonder for the pup’s internal health.

        • We will have to disagree RG. We don’t need lean meat either. One of the healthiest dogs I ever had detested “fresh vegetables”, but would gobble up huge yellow squishy overripe cucumbers as soon as we pitched them out of the garden. She died in her sleep at 14, which is old for a 130 pound dog.
          By the way, haven’t seen you here in a while. Glad to.

    • I’ve seen you post this and some other lengthier ruminations on this topic another thread awhile back. Very interesting. You’re right on point about some dog owners, the ones I refer to as “dog people.” Maybe it’s just me but, like a lot of things these days, dog and pet ownership more generally is a much more intense pursuit for some than it was when I had a dog as a kid. My memory of this experience was a mixed bag. Some fun times but also some burdens and mishaps, including the dog biting 2 of my friends on separate occasions. I shudder to think of the ramifications of that today. It was my job to pick up the shit piles and pick the ticks off every day in summer. When we moved to a smaller property and had to give the dog away, I was sad for maybe 10 minutes.

      Where I live there are short term rental houses that are “pet friendly.” Imagine group after group staying in a place with anywhere from 1-5 different dogs each time. The places get filthy and damaged, mainly because the dogs freak out smelling the last set. The cleaners only do the most cursory cleaning because they know dog people only care about being able to bring their dogs. So the places are always filthy but always booked. It’s a strange symbiotic relationship.

      • Anon,
        I once asked a prospective landlord if dogs were OK, and he replied “Sure, they don’t do nearly the damage kids do”.
        “It’s a strange symbiotic relationship.” It’s an ancient one, for Europeans and their descendants especially. Going back to when the ice age ended, and global warming started. Are not most symbiotic relationships a bit strange?

        • So filthy short term rentals catering to dog people goes back to the ice age? Fascinating. I have a lot of experience with this issue that is contrary to your singular reference and the notion that kids make more filth and do more damage is something only dog people would believe, or rather, would like to believe. The conflation of the two and judgment for dogs against children also seems par for the course. Just sayin’.

          • You are such a grouch, Hatt. Why is John’s experience and views any less relevant than your own? You call me condescending. Pot meet kettle.

            It is your right and prerogative to decide what criteria you wish to instill for those you rent to. Your place, your rules. If others wish to accept dogs and their owners that is their decision.

            As a one time landlord I have rented to dog owners and people with children. The worst thing a dog has done was chew the trim off the front door due to separation anxiety. The kids literally drew on every closet wall in black permanent marker, destroyed every blind in the house, and threw a basketball through the window.

            Let the fun begin. 🙂

            • I don’t wear hatts so…huh? Anyway, in the past, I’ve worked for companies overseeing hundreds of houses that are rented short term. So I’ve seen a lot. It’s a fact that dogs in unfamiliar situations are super unpredictable, a lot of times very unhappy, and the owners out of their element as well. It’s a recipe for filth and damage. It is also true that the cleaners live down to what they know they can. They’re flat fee. Cleaning up after people is one thing, animals entirely another. One funny and strange symbiotic aspect I mentioned earlier tracks some of Anarchyst’s points closely. The dog people don’t notice or, if they do, they don’t care! They are used to filth as a normal state so they don’t even complain. The owners of the homes don’t care either because they’re getting paid. It’s a win-win, I guess.

          • There are still places in Europe where the preferred method of heating the house is to keep your livestock downstairs. I also have a lot of experience with dogs, and kids, and a well trained obedient dog will do NO damage to a house. My former landlord agrees. Of course their are slobs in the world, and they just don’t care that their dogs tear things up and soil the carpet. It’s a people problem, not a dog problem. Kids do more damage because they are smarter than dogs, and so are more creative. It also takes about 20 years for them to “grow up” whereas a dog takes less than 2. I love my grandchildren, and would immediately dispose of any dog in their interests. But blame should fall with a dogs master, not with the dog. Bad dogs have masters that either didn’t bother training them, or abused them.

  6. Dogs, always glad to see you, and will always go with you with no idea if there will be food, water, or shelter where you’re going.

  7. You picked a fairly good mutt. Pure bloods are prone to genetic flaws, since they are created by inbreeding. Labs being among the least so afflicted since their genes are so dominant that their breeding pool is often infiltrated without any apparent effect. Shepherds, on the other hand, were bred to attack people. Hopefully, the Lab side will keep that in check, for your safety. An uncle of mine had a German Shepard for six or seven years, and one day he attacked my uncle when he walked through his gate coming home from work.
    Of the dozen or more dogs I’ve had, most were Lab mutts, and one thoroughbred. My favorites were a couple of Lab/Doberman mutts. Very smart, and extremely loyal.

  8. Crime Historians, I’m stealing that one. I can see in their dystopian future, the jail, courts, and police pen turned into a library of sorts. Hall of crime stats and analysis.

    You are going to love that dog, One thing maybe think about getting it professionally trained. We left ours for a month when she was a pup with a couple that trains German Sheppards for the sheriffs dept. Best 500 bucks I ever spent. She’s 8 now, and starting to slow down. Later this summer we plan on getting a new pup to augment security. As soon as she’s old enough its off to puppy boot camp for her as well.

    It is reassuring with a dog that the extra seconds you gain are extra seconds that can be used to decide important things like do I use the 357 here or do I really want to make an example of these shit bags with my 12 gauge. Important questions that should not have to be decided in an instant.

    The best thing about dogs is the companionship, I cant tell you the number of times I’ve had a crappy day only to come home and there to greet me even before my wife is muh dog. Always happy to see me. I think you could throw your dog in the trunk of your car for a few days and she’d still be happy to see you when you let her out.

    The other great thing is we feed ours many of the things we eat, sweet potatoes, brown rice, eggs, they basically eat anything, so if you avoid giving them a lot of bad carbs they should have a healthy life. If things really get sporty she can help eat those extra cases of chili and beef stew from Costco.

  9. Congratulations on the new pup, Eric. Canines are some of the most devoted pets. I have two large 100+ lb boys roaming the house and backyard. They are the best security system one can have. I sleep well knowing if someone or something went after my kids or chicks they wouldn’t make it out the door.

    The pacing is part of his shepherd background. He will patrol every inch of that yard at all times. Anything from a groundhog to a bird will likely meet its maker if they decide to stop in for a visit. The labs can be a bit funny with chicks and water fowl. Some want nothing to do with them, while others their retriever side will kick in. They can be trained as protectors of the flock, but it takes awhile.

    I hope the kitties have been welcoming to the new edition to the family. 😊

    • Thanks, RG!

      The cats regard poor Pace with vague disgust, as cats tend to do. They have already trained him not to mess with them, too. But – slowly – they are also beginning to show a degree of like for him, as by being willing to sit in the same room with him. Or even just ignore him!

      I haven’t had a dawg since 2013. My girlfriend Dawn is responsible for us getting one, now. I am glad she prodded me to do it!

      • @ Eric
        your post reminded me of when I was a kid and we brought home a doberman puppy (Max).
        Mom had 3 cats already and they weren’t super happy about the puppy. Anyways it wasn’t long before Max started ‘guarding’ the litter box to torture the cats. One of mom’s cats (Skipper) decided he’d had enough and beat Max upside the head (Skipper had no claws) until he ran off. Max never messed with Skipper again. LMAO

        Sounds like you have a nice homestead going there. Color me jealous.

  10. Good Luck with Pace!

    BTW, since you included a pic of The Juice… the time of all that “commotion,” Mr Simpson owned an Akita. 🙂

  11. Our hunting dog died of old age and hubby insists on getting another one. The dog was definitely good for alert barking. This time around although I don’t even want one dog anymore and have never had two dogs, my plan is to get a second dog for the two dogs to be able to keep each other company when we are gone. The first dog was a purebreed with extremely severe separation anxiety which I want to avoid this time around. I like big dogs and we have a lot of sheep in the area for weed control in the open spaces. I have gotten very attracted to the great Pyrenees guardian dogs, that may become the other dog. Now those are alert barkers extroidinaire! We will know for sure if even so much as a possum is lurking. Although hubs will probably not be happy about it. I’m thinking bring the pup home while he’s still real little and then a few weeks later wham surprise!

    • Be warned RS, thoroughbreds are created by inbreeding, and serious health problems result. I had to put down a 6 year old Saint Bernard because of a spinal defect.
      Two dogs can get in four times the trouble one dog will. They are much more brave if they have pack backup. Speaking as one who has had as many as four.

    • Hi RS,

      I am a believer in even numbers. I do everything in 2s, 4s, or 8s. Somebody always has a pal. The only thing that this does not work with are hermit crabs. My 11 year old hermit crab has eaten both of her supposed “buds”. I decided she isn’t getting anymore. Some older dogs are hesitant with new pups, others love having a new friend to play with.

      Good luck in your search.

    • Hi RS,

      I weren’t advise surprising the hubby unless it is a dinner out or new lingerie. Very few guys handle change well and a pup is a big change. You want him in agreement with you. The couch is never as comfortable as the bed.

  12. I recall the title of an article on LRC a while back: “If you want proof that there is a God, look into the eyes of a dog.”

    • Roland,
      I think it was Frederick the Great who said “Now that I know men, I prefer dogs”. Dogs are always truthful. If they get caught. They are born thieves, and most would prefer to steal than have it handed to them. They are not the least bit dishonest about it.

      • John, my wife has been saying something like that for 30 years. Didn’t know she was quoting Frederick!
        I was never a dog person until she secretly bought a puppy for our daughter. We had Abby for 14 years, and the day she died was one of the saddest of my life. Now we have a rescued Chihuahua, Chloe. She’s a sweetie.

  13. One of my favorite subjects Eric. While much of the world sees them as food, those of European descent have a close symbiotic relationship that is thousands of years old.
    To point out one of your rare errors, there is no such thing as a dog that won’t bite, if you cross their red line. One has no definitive idea where that line is until it’s crossed. They won’t typically bite a member of their pack, as in you, unless pressed very hard. But there are atypical dogs.
    As for security, they are right behind the armed homeowner in the list of things pro criminals fear, and just ahead of the police. Many such pros can be dissuaded by keeping a big dog house, and food and water dishes outside, whether you have a dog or not. Their security purpose, in my mind, is that they take the first bullet, if there are bullets, and to dissuade criminals from even venturing into the arena with their barking and growling. A dog bite is no small thing, speaking from experience. Fangs up to an inch long, and a bit sharper than a pencil eraser, could be buried in your flesh, and then they start ripping and shaking.
    I’ve never kept poultry, so I’ve often wondered how one goes about training a dog not to eat them. I’ve done it regarding cats, but cats aren’t an easy target anyway.

  14. I lost my motorcycle-riding faithful best friend of 18 years recently, and can’t tell you how big a hole he’s left in my life. He wasn’t much good in a fight, but he’d make a lot of noise and give ya time to get to your gun.

    Life is better with a dog

    • Bill,
      Indeed it is. I’ve always had dogs, but I lost my last one about three years ago. I’m too old and infirm to raise another, being very partial to large dogs. Preferably over 100 pounds. Which even as 40 pound pups, I can’t manhandle in training anymore.
      As invalid as it is, losing a good dog is close to as painful as losing a family member.

      • Hi John,

        Your post made me sad – and appreciative, for what I still have (and am able to do). If you lived down the road, I’d bring Pace by for a visit…

        Sending best wishes and thanks for good memories.

        • Indeed Eric,
          after 65 years of living with dogs, my memories are abundant. My son lives 100 yards from my door, and he has a dog. It’s only about a 60 pound dog, but it is a dog, and that’s good enough.
          We all fade in time, some sooner, as in my case, some later. Appreciate what you can still do, every single day. Hard work is not a thing to begrudge, being able to do it is a blessing.

      • John, I am genuinely sorry for your loss. As I am for my own. It’s not as painful as losing a family member, it is losing a family member.

        • Such is the nature of owning dogs. You outlive most of them. Having had dogs since I was 3 years old, and parting with the last one at 65, I’ve experienced that loss probably at least a dozen times. So while it hurts badly, I get over it quicker. The last one was harder, because she was the last one.


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