Archive for the ‘Dog Breed Information’ Category

Minnesota puppy mill on List of Horrible Hundred – S G Kennels

May 10, 2016 11 comments

puppy mills 1Every year the Humane Society of the United States issues their list of Horrible Hundred puppy mill breeders. In past years, there have been at least 3-5 Minnesota breeders on their list. This year, there is just one. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s the worst of the lot, multiple violations over many years.

Here are just a few details on S G Kennels, owned by S Glance Vilken, in Roseau, Minnesota:

  • Has been found to be in violation of the Animal Welfare Act with every USDA inspection done between 2013 – 2016. (Isn’t it amazing that you can break the law year after year and still be in business?)
  • In the latest inspection, conducted in February 2016 (yes, this year), she was cited for not providing adequate care for two dogs, even though the inspector instructed her to do so in multiple citations.
  • One of the dogs she was ordered to get help for was first seen in June of last year. The puppy was 16 weeks of age back then and had an eye issue that caused drainage from the eye. The inspector thought the dog was experiencing pain.
  • The owner failed to get the dog looked at by a veterinarian, even after 3 more inspections indicated she should do so.
  • The second dog was a Pomeranian with advanced dental disease and had symptoms of a severe ear infection. The dog had discharge from both gums and from the infected ear. (Can you imagine being forced to breed and care for puppies while in extreme pain?)
  • The owner has been cited numerous times for filthy conditions, sharp rusty points in the kennel area that could hurt a dog and for not providing proper vet care.

Reading that would make any caring human being cringe. How callous does a human have to be to let a dog suffer through dental disease and a severe ear infection? Neither the breeder or the USDA seem capable of taking action to stop this dog’s suffering. (If you don’t know by now, the USDA is useless when it comes to shutting down mills like this.)

You might be asking me at this point… But, didn’t you guys just pass a puppy mill law? Why can’t this place be shut down through that law? Good question.

Yes, we did pass a puppy mill law in the state of Minnesota. Unfortunately, we decided to give responsibility for enforcing that law to a state organization that prefers to collect a paycheck while sitting on their asses, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. They pretty much give carte blanch to Minnesota puppy mills.

Why do I say that? Look who is on the Minnesota Animal Board of Health‘s approved breeder’s list:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 6.44.28 AM

The moral to the story? The titles “USDA certified” and “Minnesota Licensed Breeder” means nothing. If you are buying a dog from this place, you might as well set up a running account with your local vet because dogs that come from puppy mills like this are a genetic mess and you will be paying lots of money for their healthcare in the future.

Want to know if a breeder is a good one? Ask to stop by and meet the adult parents and puppies. If they take you to a barn to show you one dog, or they tell you they don’t like people to stop by, don’t buy from them. They are hiding atrocities like this. Never buy from a pet store or online. You are buying from a puppy mill if you do, and that makes YOU part of the problem.

Favorite Video Friday – Cavachon Puppy Cuteness

April 29, 2016 3 comments

I’m not a small dog person in general (I generally prefer the medium to large-sized dogs), but back in my pet sitting days there were two sibling dog boarding clients I absolutely adored – Noah and Sophie.

Noah and Sophie were both Cavachons (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon mixes), and just about the most adorable dogs you could imagine. As a breed, they were wonderful little dogs: sweet, well-behaved, easy to train, and terrific cuddlers.

Unfortunately, being a designer dog combo, this breed is likely to be found in great numbers in puppy mills and pet stores. As a result, I have been reluctant to even mention the mix-breed in passing for fear I would be encouraging someone to buy one from a pet store or from a puppy mill breeder.

Fortunately, there are now some reputable breeders popping up and specializing in this mix and as a result, I feel I can openly share how much I love this little breed combination. I am sure not every Cavachon will be as wonderful as Noah and Sophie, but working with the right breeder will increase the likelihood.

This week’s video features the most adorable Cavachon, Boba Fett. I cannot guaranteed the owners of the sweet little dog in this video bought her from a reputable breeder, but I am going to hope that is the case. Either way, he is too cute to not share with you today. I guarantee your heart will be a puddle on the floor before this video is done. 🙂

Happy Friday everyone!

Does the breed make the dog? Or, is there more to the story?

September 7, 2015 5 comments

Sad Looking Chocolate LabSpend any time at all at a dog park or dog-centric event and you will find yourself starting to form opinions about dogs (and their owners). How a dog behaves may be a reflection of the owner, but often we assume a dog’s behavior is based on their breed.

For example, we might say the following:

  • Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs and love kids.
  • Golden Retrievers are friendly with everyone.
  • Terriers like to dig.
  • Hunting dogs, like German Shorthair Pointers and Vizslas, love to go hunting.

But, are these assumptions correct?

Science Friday, often heard on National Public Friday (NPR), explored this very topic this past February. Animal behaviorist James Serpell, was their guest. He discussed our common assumptions on dog breeds and how much of our dog’s behavior is dependent on us, their owners.

He also discussed C-BARQ, a Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, designed to provide dog owners and professionals with standardized evaluations of canine temperament and behavior.

Take a listen. I think you will learn that breed is only part of the equation.

You can listen to the podcast here:

What the heck breed is a Teddy Bear dog anyways?

April 3, 2014 27 comments

Teddy Bear

That is the question I posted on my Facebook page last night. I asked the question after seeing a posting for a missing dog that listed the breed of dog as Teddy Bear. Ummmm… What?

Two thoughts immediately ran through my mind when I read that posting:

  1. What the heck is a Teddy Bear?
  2. Who the heck is going to know what a Teddy Bear is so they know what to look for?

I can reassure you that the dog has since been found (thank goodness), but it led me to ask the question of my friends “What kind of breed is a Teddy Bear dog?”

Here are some of the answers I received:

  • A pom mix?
  • Never heard of it.
  • Shichon or cross between a shih tzu and bichon.
  • Also called a Zuchon.
  • Bichon and Pom and Shitzu (I think).
  • It can be any mix usually toy anything that will sell.

I Googled it and came up with this:

Hybrid Parentage

Teddy bears are “designer dogs,” hybrids of two or more breeds. Most commonly, their parents are Shih Tzus and bichon frises or bichon-poodle mixes, although breeders continue to experiment with adding other dogs, such as schnauzers, to the gene pool. Because of their small size and sweet nature, teddy bears can be perfect pets whether you live in an apartment or a large house.

Apparently, according to this page, they are also great therapy dogs, perfect for people with allergies (yeah, right), and smart and easy to train. 13_8_2012_12_30_44_SAMYOAD-233x300

The most likely reality is they are also mutts (yes mutts) with a cute name and numerous health issues that cost thousands of dollars and were raised by puppy millers looking for another quick buck. I can’t wait for the new waves of puppy mill breeding dogs soon to be headed to your local shelter (after a raid of a breeding facility).

To steal a phrase from a friend (Thanks Marie!): “Good Grief. People will do anything to say they have a “rare or special” dog breed won’t they?”

Yes. And, people will pay anything for a dog with a cute name.

Would cancer change your dog breed preference?

September 16, 2013 35 comments

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyWould you avoid getting a certain dog breed if you knew it had a higher chance of getting cancer?

That is the question I asked myself as I read some recent data on dogs and canine cancer. The data was posted on The Institute of Canine Biology but came from a scientific veterinary review article by Jane Dobson titled “Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs”.

The data was both interesting and sad. In breeds where the prevalence of cancer is high, the attributing factor is most likely genetics. Certain breeds of dogs are just genetically pre-disposed to get cancer more than others.  Whether this is due to closed breed registries I cannot say (I’m just not knowledgable enough about dog breeding to know) but it certainly does give one pause to wonder.

As I looked at the list of dogs, I automatically found myself scrolling down the list to see where Shetland Sheepdogs and Labrador Retrievers fell. Labs were higher on the list (31%) than Shelties (22%), but certainly not as high as the irish Water Spaniel (55.8%) or the Flat-coated Retriever (50.3%).

I found myself whispering a silent “Thank God” and then wondering to myself whether a higher-risk for cancer would change how I felt about a certain breed. If Shetland Sheepdogs were higher on the list would I feel differently about getting a Sheltie again? Would the data influence my decision to stay away from certain breeds? To be honest, I don’t think so, but then again, I am not the owner of a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Vizsla or a Rottweiler or one of the other breeds topping the list. Maybe I would feel differently if my favorite breed was one of these dogs. I just don’t know.

How about you? Would you choose another breed of dog if you knew cancer was more of a possibility?

The State of Pet Health in 2013 – The Banfield Report

August 4, 2013 8 comments

Chihuahua Wearing EyeglassesLast year, I shared a summary of Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 report on the state of pet health in America. The report was full of interesting information on the common ailments and diseases they see in the cats and dogs who visit their hospitals. It also called out a disturbing trend being seen in both types of pets – an increase in pet obesity.

In their 2013 State of Pet Health Report, Banfield shares even more interesting information on the average lifespan of pets and some frequently occurring themes (also seen in the 2012 report). This year’s report provides pet owners and veterinarians with even greater insight into the health of all our pets and where we should be focusing our attention.

Here is a summary of some of the more interesting findings:

  • Toy or smaller breed dogs live 41% longer than large breed dogs.
  • Large breeds reach their senior years (6 years of age) much earlier than small or toy breeds (10 years of age).
  • The average life span for cats is 12.1 years while for dogs it varied depending on size (small/toy breeds-11.3 years, medium breeds-10.8 years and large breeds-11.1 years).
  • Interesting enough, Montana and Colorado had the longest average life spans for both cats and dogs.
  • Spayed and neutered cats lived longer than unspayed and unneutered cats by 39% and 62% respectively, while unspayed dogs and unneutered dogs did so by 23% and 18%.
  • Two of the five states with the shortest lifespans (Mississippi and Louisiana) have the highest number of unspayed and unneutered dogs.
  • By far, the most common diagnoses seen in cats and dogs (for young adults to geriatric) was dental tartar and obesity. 37% of dogs and 90% of cats were overweight or obese and 91% of dogs over the age of  three had dental disease.
  • Heartworm infection is one of the top three diagnoses for pets living in southern states, whereas Lyme disease was more prevalent in the northeast.
  • In Minnesota, the top five diagnoses were listed as: dental tartar, overweight, Stage 1 periodontal disease,  ear infections and gingivitis.

Curious about your own state’s statistics? Or, looking to compare your state with another state? Banfield has created an interactive map to help you find out more information.

10 Interesting Dog Myths

March 6, 2013 40 comments

Chihuahua Wearing Eyeglasses

Recently, I came across a news piece debunking common animal myths. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about most animal myths (I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to animals), but it turns out I had more to learn.

For instance, did you know that touching a baby bird does not mean the mother won’t take it back? Or that porcupines don’t shoot their quills at a predator? You can read more about these common myths at Animal Facts & Myths Debunked By Wildlife Experts.

Reading some of the myths we have about wild animals made me wonder what kinds of dog myths I may have fallen for that turned out not to be true. So, off I went a-Googling to see what I could find. It turns out there are quite a lot of dog myths out there. Who knew? (Just kidding. Given how many myths there are in the dog training world, I had to figure there were a lot more myths about dogs.)

Here are some of the more interesting ones I found:

  1. Dogs are sick when their noses are warm – It turns out this is a myth (one I actually believed). “The temperature of a dogs nose does not indicate health or illness or if they have a fever. The only accurate method to access a dog’s temperature is to take it with a thermometer. Normal dog temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F.”

  2. Dogs like to be petted on their heads – Past experience has taught me that this is definitely a myth. While some dogs may not mind it, most dogs DO NOT like to be pet on the head. In fact, a hand coming at them over their head can be quite an intimidating thing to a dog and can be seen as a threat.

  3. Happy dogs wag their tails – Another one that so many people think is true. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy.  “A wagging tail can mean agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his all rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, twitches or wagging while held over the back may be associated with aggression.”

  4. Dogs eat grass when they are sick – Haven’t you always wondered why your dog eats grass? I know have. I actually believed this one was true. but according to Dr. Debra Primovic, “Dogs descended from wild wolves and foxes that ate all parts of their “kill.” This included the stomach contents of many animals that ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of their normal diet and eating small amounts is normal.”

  5. Dogs destroy furniture and other items in the house because they are angry – This is actually one of my favorite myths. So many people believe that their dog takes out their anger on them when they are gone. How do they know this? Why their dog looks guilty of course! Afraid not. More and more studies are showing that the guilty look your dog gives you is in response to you (your tone of voice, body posture, etc.) NOT because they actually felt guilty for doing something they knew was wrong. You can read more about a study done in 2009 here.

  6. You should never comfort a scared dog – This is one of those old myths I heard growing up as a kid. My dog Indy was fearful of thunderstorms and we were told to ignore the behavior or it would reinforce it. We did. It didn’t. Her fear just got worse with time. Poor Indy. Now I know better and I comfort Daisy when there is a thunderstorm or fireworks are going off in the neighborhood. Why? Because I finally met someone who understands and works with fearful dogs, Debbie Jacobs. According to Debbie, “One of the first things someone working with a fearful dog needs to understand is that it’s ok to comfort a dog that is afraid. It’s ok to give them a piece of cheese or take them away from what is scaring them.” Daisy is the lucky recipient of this wisdom and I am so grateful. So is Daisy.

  7. Dog growling is always a bad thing – I used to believe this one until I got my dog Indy. Have you ever had a dog who was vocal? Well, Indy was and she loved nothing more than to growl when playing tug or wrestling with another dog. As shared by Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward, “Dogs have a very limited vocal range, and like reading body language, making a judgement based on a single indicator like a growl is a bad idea. Growling during play, such as a game of tug, is perfectly fine.”

  8. Using head collars will cause neck/spinal injury – I recently came across this one when someone I know on Facebook admonished a foster mom for using a Gentle Leader on her foster dog. According to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a well-recognized and respected dog-training association,  “This is an oft-repeated claim that can be found all over the Internet. In fact there are no documented cases of dogs getting neck and/or spinal injuries from head collars. Proper use of these types of collars should have no ill physical effects on your dog.”

  9. Dogs are descendents of wolves and therefore training should be based on how wolf packs interact with each other – Ah yes. The whole “pack theory” approach to dog training. You can read my friend Pamela’s post Why is the Dominance Theory of Dog Training Still So Darn Popular? but you may also want to read what APDT has to say on this… “Dogs are not wolves and there are many significant differences between dog and wolf behavior such that wolf behavior is completely irrelevant to how we live and interact with our dogs. Moreover, when wolf behavior is mentioned as a model for dog training, the understanding of wolf behavior used is often incorrect and based on studies that have long since been disproven by research scientists who study wolves extensively.”

  10. Pitbulls have jaws that lock, thus making them more dangerous than other dog breeds – False. False. False. I wish I knew where these myths got started. Somewhere I imagine a dog fighter bragging to his dog fighter scumbag buddy that his pitbull has a jaw that locks. Can’t you just see it? According to the Pitbull Rescue Center’s (PBRC) Media Center page “there is NO SUCH THING AS “JAW LOCKING” IN ANY BREED.” And this, from several veterinarians who were consulted on this matter. The whole “pitbulls have a 1600 PSI bite pressure”myth is also false. PBRC shared some very interesting information on animals and bite pressure:

Pretty interesting isn’t it?

I look back at when I first became a dog owner and shake my head. What I knew then and what I know now are ages and ages apart. How many of these myths did I believe when I was younger? Probably all of them. It’s amazing what you learn as you grow as a person.

So what myths did you have as a kid that you have since learned were untrue? Did any of the myths listed above surprise you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Why is my dog afraid of new things?

December 3, 2012 10 comments
Jasper hangs back in the hallway while I put up the Christmas tree. This is not new behavior. It happens every year.

Jasper hangs back in the hallway while I put up the Christmas tree. This is not new behavior. It happens every year.

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by animal behavior. When I was a child I would sit for hours observing the Canadian geese that lived in the pond across from my house. I even took an animal behavior class in high school. Dog behavior is just one more area in which I am often fascinated. I love watching my dogs figure things out or adjust their behavior to a new circumstance or puzzle.

When my friend Debbie over at shared this piece on Neophobia (fear of new things) in dogs, I immediately went to check it out. Not just because it was about dog behavior, but because it was one more piece to the puzzle in understanding my own dog’s behavior.

When Jasper was about a year old (I adopted him at 9 months), I took him to training class at the shelter where I volunteered. During our weekly training sessions, it soon became clear Jasper was frightened by everything new that was introduced into his environment. He refused to go near a dish full of food because he had never seen it before. He refused to go near any of the dividers or other equipment because they were something new he had not seen before. He was easily startled if something new was brought into class and would often freeze in fear or back up or look for an escape route to get away from it.

Unlike most puppies, Jasper was not curious about new things. In fact, he was outright fearful of all of them and would shut down as soon as they appeared. I remember our instructor, a friend of mine, mentioning that maybe he suffered from something called “brittle dog syndrom,” or neophobia, as a result of not being exposed to a lot of new things when he was a puppy. I had never heard of such a thing, but I now know she was right on.

So what is Neophobia?

It is a fear or avoidance of new things. Dogs with neophobia show fearful behavior in new environments or around unfamiliar objects or animals they’ve never seen.

Some of the behaviors dogs display when they are confronted with something new in their environment are:

  • trembling
  • panting
  • whining
  • avoidance or attempts at escape when around new things (In Jasper’s case, he avoids and barks what I call his “chicken little bark.” The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Alarm! Alarm!)

Many dogs who display neophobic behaviors were not socialized as puppies. In Jasper’s case, he spent the majority of his early life in a puppy mill, and then in a pet shop store window. He was “rescued” from that environment at around 8 1/2 months. Before coming to our shelter and then to me, he had very little opportunity to be exposed to many new things, except people, which he has no fear of at all.

Some neophobic dogs can also be so as a result of genetics or breed disposition (i.e., some breeds appear to display it more than others). Although I have no expertise in this area, I would not be surprised to discover that Shelties are a breed who falls into this category. One only has to look at the number of lost Shelties who were lost, after they bolted in fear, to suspect this to be the case.

Since Jasper is a Sheltie and had little socialization as a puppy, he has two strikes against him. However, I have been able to manage his fear of new things by removing him from the object he fears and/or rewarding him with treats when he examines it with curiosity. It takes work, time and patience, but a neophobic dog can learn to live a fairly normal life, depending on how bad the fear is and how well you manage it.

If you have a dog you think may suffer from Neophobia, check out the great article on the ASPCA site. It’s definitely worth the read. My thanks to Debbie Jacobs for sharing it.

Can your personality pick your dog breed?

October 22, 2012 31 comments

I love personality tests and questionnaires that give you some insight into yourself. When I volunteered at our local shelter, we introduced the Meet Your Match program to help improve dog retention numbers for adopted dogs and cats. I took the short questionnaire and was surprised to find out that I prefer “Green” dogs. I was also surprised to learn that I was not all that common amongst the group of volunteers I worked with every day. Most of my friends preferred the Orange or Purple dogs. It sure gave me insight into myself and the dogs I preferred. I’m not sure I knew that I liked the really busy and active dogs as much as I did. Now? I totally recognize it. I gravitate towards the busy ones the most.

Maybe that’s why I was so interested in this story when I saw it. “What Your Dog’s Breed Says About You” highlights a new study on the correlation between personality and dog breed preferences. It seems pretty similar to Meet Your Match, but reveals new information that may help with pet adoption in the future.

The researchers wanted to see how personality traits would influence real-world behavior and preferences.What they found out was interesting.

“We go for dogs that are a bit like us, just as we go for a romantic partner who is a bit like us,” study researcher Lance Workman, a psychologist at Bath Spa University in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience.

Here’s a quick highlight of what was shared in the article:

They researchers asked 1000 purebreed dog owners to take an online survey that measured these personality traits:

  • openness
  • conscientiousness
  • extroversion
  • agreeableness
  • neuroticism.

The researchers also split the dog breeds into categories using the seven Kennel Club breed groups:

  • Gun dogs (e.g., Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, English Setter, Brittany Spaniel, Weimaraner, etc.))
  • Hound dogs (e.g., Greyhound, Afghan, Bloodhound, Saluki, Basenji, Borzoi, Dachshund, etc.)
  • Pastoral breeds (e.g., German shepherd, Collis, Anatolian Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Border Collie, etc.)
  • Terriers (e.g., Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Airedale Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier, etc.)
  • Toy breeds (e.g., Chihuahua, Bichon Frise, King Charles Spaniel, Papillon, Havanese, etc.)
  • Utility breeds (includes Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Poodle, Schnauzer, etc.)
  • Working breeds (e.g., Doberman,  Boxer, Newfoundland, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Dane, Mastiff, etc.)

They found that there were some correlations between personality types and dog breed preferences.

  • Extroverts were more likely to own pastoral or utility breeds
  • Owners of gun dogs and toy dogs were most agreeable.
  • Hound owners tend to be the most emotionally stable people.
  • Toy dog owners were the most open and imaginative.

The researchers presented their results to the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in London. Their hope is that this new information will help people pick the right breed the first time and lessen the chances that a dog ends up in an animal shelter.

What do you think? If you could identify which dog breed, or mix of dog breeds, best fits your personality would you want to know? Would you use it to help you select your next dog?

The pooper scooper on poop-eating pups

September 16, 2012 32 comments

Eating breakfast? You may want to save this post for a little later in your day. Why? Because today we are talking poop. Actually, dogs eating poop to be more precise.

Recently, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue shared a blog post by Dr. Sophia Yin, titled, Coprophagia: The Scoop on Poop Eating in Dogs. I am not embarrassed to say that it caught my attention right away. After all, with two poop-eaters right here at Casa del Mel, it’s pretty hard not to be curious about it.

In her post, Dr. Yin shares information from “a study presented at the annual ACVB/AVSAB Behavior Symposium in San Diego” just last month. I thought the information she shared was quite fascinating. (Okay. Maybe not fascinating, but certainly interesting.) I would encourage you to read the full post yourself. It’s a quick read, but chock full of information.

Among the information she shared was:

  • Up to 16% of dog owners have dogs who eat poop
  • Poop-eaters are more likely to be found in dual dog households (24%) and multiple dog households (30% more likely with 3 dogs in the home)
  • Only 15% of dogs in the study ate their own poop, 85% ate other dogs’ poop
  • Neutered males were more likely to eat poop than intact males
  • 38% of border collies had a history of eating poop and 40% of shelties did as well
  • Poop-eating could not be traced to issues with their diet.
  • 52% of the stool eaters would steal food off a table
  • All the “easy” solutions to stop poop-eating don’t work (e.g., products claiming to stop poop-eating, putting a chili pepper or pineapple in the food, yelling, using a shock collar, etc.)
  • Immediately picking up after your dog is the one thing that does work

Interesting isn’t it?

I have to admit that some of the information was spot on for us:

  • 3 dog household = increased likelihood of having poop-eaters
  • Neutered males more likely to eat poop
  • Shelties more likely to eat poop
  • Picking up the poop immediately helps (a lot)

Bu some to the information was not:

  • The poop-eaters in our household are not the food-grabbers of the family
  • One of the poop eaters is a neutered male, but one is a spayed female (listed in the study as least likely to eat poop)
  • (I am embarrassed to admit this, but…) one of our poop-eaters prefers to eat it right away. The fresher the better. (I know. It grosses me out terribly. Trust me. It happens a lot less now.)

I have a sneaking suspicion I know why some of my dogs don’t fit the norm, but it would take too long to explain. So instead I’ll ask you – do you have poop-eaters in your household? How accurate were the study results for you?

Daisy prefers her poop frozen. We call them Poopsicles.
In this picture she is munching on one of her favorite treats. I didn’t realize until after I took the picture. I never thought I would be sharing this one with all of you.

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