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 Post subject: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:11 pm 
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After we return from our Iceland trip in September, we've decided it's time we look at adopting a pooch. I haven't had a dog since childhood and it probably goes without saying but my parents weren't especially good animal parents like they weren't good people parents, so I have next to no knowledge of dog ownership. Trevor had a dog when he was a teen but also wasn't the primary caretaker of it.

The other potential stick in the mud is Gershwin, our very grumpy cat. He is a life-hating jerk and I could see him really not liking a dog at first.

What are your thoughts on the above? Do you have any tips, stories etc. about dog ownership that you can share? How did you learn how to train/take care of them? Cats are old hat for me, but dogs seem like a whole 'nother thing. Something I am 100% up for, but new nonetheless.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:18 pm 
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I would research breeds and then try to find a similar breed/mixed breed dog whose likely energy level matches yours.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:47 pm 
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How exciting! Dogs are awesome <3

I would ask your local friends which rescues they have worked with, and whether they liked them and why. If you get a really responsible rescue, they'll help you match the individual dog with your needs and wants, and be honest about the dog's challenges and also support you with medical care, training (how to introduce the dog to Gershwin etc) etc. And then ask to see if you can foster to adopt, which puts a little less pressure on you and allows you to see if the dog is a good fit with your family.

Petfinder is a great resource for seeing what kinds of dogs are out there, but honestly in my experience the best thing you can do is find a good rescue whom you trust, who will work with you through any issues you might have.

Sending you many good thoughts!

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:14 pm 
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Yeah, I agree--try to match your energy level with a certain breed/mix of dog.

I'd also look into the ailments of different breeds and then plan to get pet insurance (even though it's expensive)! My dog is a chihuahua mutt but has so many of the health problems associated with chihuahuas. It's been really scary and also a huge financial burden. My dog is also incredibly reactive and aggressive, which I never experienced with any of my other dogs and I didn't know how to truly assess that behavior when we first were meeting him. It has been really life changing, like we have a whole procedure for going out, going on trips, having people over to the house, even how I have to interact with the dog not to trigger him. It sounds like you will have to be really careful to find a mellow dog that not only gets along with cats, but will basically leave your cat alone (I have never had a dog like that!).

For training, we should have done a behavioral class but it was sooo expensive and we were broke students. Instead, I bought a book about positive reinforcement techniques with reactive dogs and tried to follow those guidelines. I ended up trying and then disregarding all the advice my so-called "dog expert" friends and family told me to do (do an alpha roll! force submission!) and went with more positive training techniques I found online. I also set up really firm boundaries and never bent the rules or changed my tune because our dog needs that stability. He is small so he's easy to manage on a leash, but if you get a big dog I would look into leash training classes or at least do some practice stuff on your own. My parents have huge dobermans and labs and never lead trained them and it's like trying to control a runaway train when I walk them.

I am so excited for you! I hope you have a great experience and end up with a great little pup!

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:18 pm 
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How awesome and exciting! 'fulish and 'pita both have excellent advice.

What I would add is in my experience there were two things that really helped Cammie and I bond when she came to live with us. She was just shy of 2 years old at the time and I had never had a dog before. First, I took her for walks consistently which I think is something that many people would think is a no-brainer, but if you have a low energy dog or a yard it can be easy to let slide. And, we let her sleep in the bed with us, again this could be a challenge if you have a small bed and a large dog but I think it made a difference. We had a long term dogsitting situation this past winter and I had a dog loving friend that let our doggie guest sleep with her when she was here to visit - the pup was enamored with my friend... so I think there's something to it.

As far as training goes, I think consistency is key. It doesn't even have to be formal, but as long as you use the same vocabulary all the time the dog will pick it up fairly easily.

All of this is based on my experience mainly with my one dog and a few other long term dogsitting or family members' dogs - so I'm no expert.

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:10 pm 
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If you use pet finder make sure you really do research on the rescue you use and make sure it's one that has a good reputation. The woman we got Bigby from was totally sketchy and offered us no support for his fear aggression and was against positive reinforcement training . and we suspect she was not honest with us about his behavior from the start. We didn't know enough at the time to figure all this out in advance. Maybe ask your cats vet for rescue recommendations. For training stuff I'd read Dr Sophia yin's website and watch kikopup videos on youtube.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:28 pm 
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Thank you all. I have a rescue group I am interested in talking to as I have several friends who have rescues through them and they are apparently super awesome! They seem amazing and even offer 5 training classes as part of the adoption fee.

There's this event called Pawlooza here in a few weeks, it's a big dog-themed festival that focuses on rescuing -- 50+ rescue groups from all over Ontario gather and I think we'll go and use it as a chance to chat with each group and talk about our cats/housing/etc so we can get a feel for what the right dog for us might be.

idji I'm going to read your recommendations!

I'm excited. We have a lot of love to give and I think we'd be a great family for a pup :) It's been a daydream for a long time, but now that we're in a house that we own with a totally fenced in yard, it feels like it's right.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 10:45 pm 
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The following points are all standalone tips so don't expect this to make any particular sense:

Do the research. Ask the questions. Read the books. Set a timeline. Thn throw it all out the window when the right face catches your attention on petfinder or the right body leans in to you and despite everything you planned you *know* that they're the one. Don't rush a dog in because "now is the time" and don't hold off because the timing is not 100% perfect.

Adopt a greyhound that has tested well with cats. I've never had a cat reactive greyhound and I'm on number 4 right now. They definitely exist but greys who enter rescue without ever hitting the track often do because they have absolutely no chase instinct.

Breed specificity is important but not as important as personality. Not all beagles bark, not all terriers dig, not all border collies are nutbag herding machines. Breed guideline are helpful but don't automatically turn down a dog that sounds like a good fit just because you've ruled their breed out as an option.

No matter how old they are or what issues they have (or seemingly lack thereof) do an entry level class with a trainer with good reviews in your area. It's a good bonding experience and then you have a rapport with someone if you do find an issue later.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 1:29 am 
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My biggest tip, if you come across a specific breed you are in to read up on all the negatives of the breed and then decide if you can manage them.

Also, plastic bottles are generally more fun to play with than expensive toys.

Sighthounds make AMAZING pets just make sure it is cat tested first.

Diego is a real grumpy fart. When Lexi arrived he took off for two weeks then returned to instantly becoming BFFs with her. It looks like they are killing each other but they are actually playing.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 1:54 am 
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Aaaaah I'm so excited for you! You guys will be such a great dog family!

I would start going through training resources now and get a few ideas for what you want to train, to have a rough plan before the dog joins your family. You don't want to start reinforcing particular behaviors and then realize it's not a good fit for your environment, or just useless (for example, plenty of trainers on the internet go on to do dog sports and focus from the start on things like heeling on the right side, holding a wait in very specific positions, but if you just want to train your family dog you may not care at all as long as they walk on a loose leash / wait in one spot).

Positive reinforcement not only teaches "obedience" (acting on cue is a better way of phrasing that) but also teaches your dog to be comfortable with these behaviors, so you can reinforce right away progressions that are safety and health related: being comfortable having their paws (later, nails) handled, their mouths and ears handled, being gently restrained, being comfortable around others, not picking up food off the sidewalk and so on. I also wish I had trained my dog to untangle his own leash way earlier (by circling around me or around a pole on cue) because it makes life so much more convenient!

I also highly recommend kikopup's videos https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup/videos
She had tons of ideas and tricks, but more importantly I found her extremely helpful in getting the right mindset - to take responsibility for your dog's behavior, that if training doesn't progress the way you want it's never the dog being a bad dog, it's always the trainer's responsibility to patiently meet the dog where they are and train better. I know in my case, having grown with not-always-so-great parents, this meant a big shift in how I think about education.


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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:21 am 
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I think if you only read ONE book then read Ian Dunbar's 'Before and After You get Your Puppy' (Part One, Part Two). It's free, and Ian Dunbar is the Godfather of positive reinforcement training. He is great!

Lili Chin illustrates uh-mazing positive dog training posters and guides. Lots of free ones here: http://www.doggiedrawings.net/freeposters

Anything by these authors/YouTubers is worth a look (but really all you need is the Ian Dunbar book, if you want to avoid information overload):

+ Victoria Stilwell
+ Kikopup
+ Karen Pryor
+ Jean Donaldson
+ Sarah Whitehead
+ Sophia Yin

Avoid Cesar Millan!

The only thing you need to do is find a nice, local puppy training course (one that uses positive reinforcement). It's great for sharing your puppy frustrations and for puppy socialisation :)

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:26 am 
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couroupita wrote:
I also set up really firm boundaries and never bent the rules or changed my tune because our dog needs that stability.


This is sooooo important. If you get a young pup, s/he'll be super eager to please and totally follow all the established (taught) guidelines and stuff for a good while, and then they'll basically become teenagers and you'll wonder what on earth happened (pushing boundaries). Sticking firm to routine is really important. Eventually they'll get over it and just be grown-ups :D

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:36 am 
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Sorry for all the posts, this is also a GREAT round-up of positive puppy training resources: http://leemakennels.com/blog/links-of-i ... py-owners/

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:10 pm 
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Thank you all for the great suggestions! I've subscribed to kikopup's channel and I'm going to start figuring out what is important for me to ensure a dog knows (great idea aelle).

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:03 pm 
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Dogs are definitely more work than cats so I'd be prepared for that. I grew up with dogs and my husband did as well but neither of us had our own dog until we adopted our first together.

Crate training - it is an awesome thing. I wasn't sure about it at first because it wasn't something my mom ever did.

Dog training - A must. You can ask your vet for recommendations but find a positive reinforcement trainer.

Puppies are lots of work, adults are slightly less. Puppies also can't be left alone as much. I would definitely recommend a young adult if possible.

Boredom causes destruction - There are things you can do if you plan to leave your dog by itself. Sure crates are great for this but there are things like toys, kongs, etc.

Dogs are needy - They want to be with you, this may also mean coming into the bathroom, or if you get a lap pup, they'd want to be on you if not at your feet.

Dogs vary by energy levels - Herding dogs especially need more stimulation and exercise. Most dogs would still do well with a daily walk if not more. Some days my dogs get walked 3 times. This isn't for potty breaks as we have a backyard but just to get them exercise.

Baby gates are useful for segmentation. We don't allow our dogs upstairs and only down in the basement when we let them. We have a few baby gates (semi permanent and temporary) for this.

Dogs shouldn't be left alone for longer than 8 hours. My husband and I used to do a split work schedule where I went into work earlier than him and he went in later to avoid this. Other people employ dog walkers to help with this as well.

Cats can be gross but so can dogs - Throw up isn't a common occurrence but it can happen. If your dog isn't potty trained prior, then you will have to work on that with them. You might encounter some other gross things like scenting... rubbing themselves in something stinky (smell hounds supposedly are prime in this) or poop eating. Also picking up bones or parts of dead animals on walks can happen.

I know this doesn't happen for everyone. Dogs really, really do not want to go to the bathroom in their crate. But if they do, it often means they were left in their too long or the crate is too big for them. We were having trouble with our beagle overnight (who has tummy issues) and ended up using white towels for his bedding instead of dog beds. White towels are easier to clean anyway and even though he stopped having issues, we still use towels.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:47 pm 
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Thanks, 'lil. It's funny, most of the above I can already said either Gershwin or Tristan is like -- they're very dog-like weirdo cats. At any rate, this is all really great insight.

We don't have a very big house, so figuring that out will be a challenge.

The cool thing is, Trevor can bring a dog to work (the dogs at his office have their own hashtag on Instagram!) and he walks to work so that's good exercise right there.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:46 pm 
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Moon wrote:
Thn throw it all out the window when the right face catches your attention on petfinder or the right body leans in to you and despite everything you planned you *know* that they're the one. Don't rush a dog in because "now is the time" and don't hold off because the timing is not 100% perfect.
....
Breed specificity is important but not as important as personality. Not all beagles bark, not all terriers dig, not all border collies are nutbag herding machines. Breed guideline are helpful but don't automatically turn down a dog that sounds like a good fit just because you've ruled their breed out as an option.


This this this!

If I'd gone with research and timing and breed guidelines, I would definitely NOT have ever brought Mavis home!


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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:59 pm 
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OMG A DOGGIE! SOOOO EXCITING!

i agree with pretty much everything everyone said.

the biggest things i would say is really think about the personality of the dog you want. do you want a dog to run 10 miles with you every day, do you want a dog that naps on the couch all day, etc.

think about what goes on in your life right now and whether a puppy would fit in or if an adult dog would be better. adult dogs can be awesome but they can come with some baggage (puppies can too but would be easier to catch somethings).

i had an experience similar to couroupita in that our first dog ended up being INSANELY dog reactive to the point where he can be within sight lines of other dogs. we literally have procedures for everything, going on walks, taking him places, going to the vet, etc and there are a lot of things we cant do with him because of his reactivity. without going into a long story that is specific to our experience we ended up having to manage his behavior rather than potentially train it out of him.

think about the behaviors you absolutely could not put up with and be honest with a rescue with that. for example i dont think i could ever deal with severe seperation anxiety. our second dog we adopted had seperation anxiety kinda bad at the beginnig when we were both working full time and although he never destroyed any property i was so stressed out for awhile that i actually wanted to return him to the shelter. (we still have him thanks to my husband and his seperation anxiety got better the longer we had him).

if your husband is able to take him to work you absolutely want a dog that is well socialized to people and other dogs and any potential noises that may be going on at that work place.

mutts tend to be healthier than pure breds because of the lack of inbreeding but as someone mentioned above that doesnt exempt mutts from breed inherited issues. our first dog Willy appears to be mainly lab and now his back hips are getting really bad now that he is old and that's a frequent problem with labs (and big dogs in general).

i dont know what it's like in Canada but here the cost of vet care varies greatly by region. i live in MA which generally has a very high cost of living and vet care is ridiculously expensive. i have never gotten pet insurance but sometimes i wonder if i should have.

as far as food goes i HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend paying for the expensive high quality stuff because it will save you money on vet care down the road. just think of it like human food. if you feed your dog crappy food every day they will have health problems. we dont personally feed our dogs a vegan diet and i think right now we feed them Wellness CORE which is a mid range price for the high quality ones.

and like other people said dogs are TOTALLY different than cats. ive never had cats but i see people who have cats and when they travel they just leave their cats some food and water and the cats are totally cool for however long is appropriate (not sure with cats)
dogs you have to either board somewhere or have someone take care of them. it can put a HUGE cramp in travel plans if you have dogs like mine who have "issues"
one dog we cant board because im pretty sure he would have a heart attack and die the other dog who is very reactive we have boarded at a place we trust but he literally barks the entire time and is probably really stressful for him. now my parents will take both dogs when we travel but its ALOT to ask of them. and for thanksgiving it's a huge problem because my parents wont leave the dogs alone at their house for long periods of time so either they cant go to my brothers house for thanksgiving 2 hours away (which i would never ask them) or we have to take them with us and drive with them 14 hours to NC because we usually spend thanksgiving with my in laws. oh and one dog hates the car and has a 14 hour panic attack!

so just some things to consider. not trying to scare you but be aware things can come up that may make you change your life a bit but it's not necessarily a bad thing. you already know how to be good pet parents this is just a different kind of pet.

dogs are awesome. i do a dog sport with one of them and it's a lot of fun. they love to go hiking with us. both of ours we got as adults so they were already house broken which was nice.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:21 pm 
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I agree with managing behavior rather than trying to train it out of them. It does depend on the dog but my beagle is one where we have managed his behavior. He isn't aggressive at all but has some other issues. A dog trainer told me once that he had made such huge progress that we should celebrate that rather than having expectations that he can't meet.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:40 pm 
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linanil wrote:
A dog trainer told me once that he had made such huge progress that we should celebrate that rather than having expectations that he can't meet.


i love that!

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:35 pm 
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My recommendation is to post lots and lots of pictures to the PPK and to name him/her something food-related, like Burrito.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:03 pm 
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Yes, in addition,you want to manage your expectations. If you want the dog to go to work with your husband but that turns out not to be a great fit, will your husband be able come home to walk him at lunch instead? Basically, just go into it without too many assumptions because it may not work out like that. Our experience is sort of like Lisa punk's. We can't go on vacation unless we fly my sister up from San Diego amongst other things. It's great, but it's life altering like having a kid.

And yes pics!!!

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:11 pm 
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So basically it sounds like Trevor and I should make a list of things that are important to us and things that are non-negotiable!

Trevor works close enough to home that coming home on lunch to let the dog out is no biggy.

Do you guys still have crates for your pups or is it something you just do at the beginning? Do any of you have mixed households ie. dogs and cats? How did that work introducing one to the other?

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:30 pm 
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My one dog (Tungsten) has access to his crate at all times and uses on his own occasionally. A dog that is crate trained early often will do so. But lots of people put their crates away and only pull them out when necessary (moving, having company over, workers in the house, whatever).

I also have a mixed pet household. 3 of the dogs ignore the cats entirely. One can not interact with them. So the cats live upstairs and Tungsten stays downstairs and the othe three only come up at bed time for the most part.

For the three that have no cat interest, introducing them was basically not even a thing. It really depends on the pets individually.

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 Post subject: Re: First time dog owner tips
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:41 pm 
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Oh, the one thing I didn't notice mentioned (may have missed it) that a lot of people don't consider is grooming needs. I will do nails and baths a few times a year but that's about it. How do you feel about a dog that will need ear cleanings regularly, or full proper grooms every 8 weeks? Would you be down for a dog that needs weekly brushings? Daily ones? Maybe you're up to doing a class for novices and doing simple shaves yourself? Are you ok with having a designated dog towel within reach at all times for one that is particularly slobbery? Or one that you have to wipe out their skin folds?

So thinking of that while making your needs list. My needs are pretty simple - dog accepting, personality suits my existing dogs, moderately car savvy, not super incredibly active, and no grooming. So I gravitate to short haired dogs with "tight" faces and pointed or semi-pointed ears just on a looks basis because I know how they meet my feelings on grooming automatically. Ears that don't droop don't tend to get infected and tight faces don't tend to be super drool-y.

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Well! Fruit is stupid! These onions taste nothing like fruit! - allularpunk
Dwarf-tossing for God: A Story of Hope - Invictus
I got your blood sausage right here, baby. - Desdemona


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