Category Archives: Food

Baked with Love on St. Simon’s Island

Look what Luke and Scooby munched on all weekend!

dog cookies made by The Island Baker Miranda Loehle

These beautiful treats were a surprise gift, sent by our good friend Miranda Loehle, aka The Island Baker.

The round, dark cookies are carob chip, a safe and healthy alternative to chocolate for dogs. The cute cut outs are peanut butter biscuits.

Miranda also makes delectable cakes and cupcakes for people. Unfortunately, because she lives about 1,500 miles away in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, the dogs and I are used to admiring her works of edible art from afar.

I can assure you if we lived in her delivery area, I would have two plumper pups!

Thank you, Miranda, for the wonderful surprise!!

For more mouth-watering images of Miranda’s delicious creations for people and canines, check out TheIslandBaker.com!

The Tex Mex Diner with Chihuahuas on the Wall [Sponsored Post] #ChuysKansasCity

For a dog lover, it’s hard to enter a Mexican restaurant without thinking of Chihuahuas.

The little dogs are synonymous with the country and, thanks to Taco Bell, also linked strongly to Tex Mex cuisine.

On Monday night, I visited a much better Tex Mex chain. Chuy’s Restaurant recently arrived on Country Club Plaza, right in the heart of Kansas City.

Chuy's Logo clean - red

The coming of Chuy’s was a big deal for my friend Megan. She went to school in Texas and during KC Pittie Pack walks I have heard her speak with much love about the drinks and the salsa and the overall experience of Chuy’s.

Listening to her talk, I think I always pictured a vaguely run-down, “authentic,” sit-down Mexican eatery. I had no idea.

Chuy’s is more like a quintessential 1950′s diner on Mexican acid. Seriously – eating at this place is a real trip.

At the Kansas City location, the walls of the entryway are plastered in old-fashioned cameras. Hundreds of them are glued to the wall.

From there, every area of the expansive dining area has a theme. There’s a palm tree room. There’s a hot rod room, where Zach and I sat. The ceiling is covered in hubcaps.

palm trees

And there is even an area devoted to dogs. Chihuahuas get their own wall.

Dog Decor

So do the dogs of the people who work there.

Dog Pictures

There is so much color and so much to look at that simply being at Chuy’s is an experience.

For that reason, I didn’t have high expectations for the food. But everything was honestly delicious.

We tasted a whole platter of different homemade salsas. I was impressed by the heat of even the pico de gallo that comes standard with every bowl of homemade chips.

plate

We had a “Perfect Margarita” and a Texas Martini – both made strong enough that one was plenty.

Texas Martini

For the main course, I ordered the Veggie Combination. The chile relleno was hands down the best I’ve ever eaten. The breading was crispy, the pepper was spicy and the cheese wasn’t greasy. On the other side of the plate, my enchilada was filled with actual vegetables, like squash and red pepper.

Veggie combination

Don’t get me wrong, this was not a healthy meal. But it was good.

We ordered dessert, too, but I only got a few melt-in-your-mouth bites of the Tres Leches cake. By then, we’d received word that an elderpin had escaped our home and gotten picked up by our neighbor.

Tres Leches

Maybe Scooby somehow knew when we left that we were headed for a really tasty meal, and he just wanted to come along.

I received compensation in the form of a meal in exchange for my honest review of Chuy’s Restaurant. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Want to try Chuy’s Restaurant for yourself? Enter the giveaway!

Chuy’s is wanting to help spread the word of their new Kansas City location by offering 5 readers the chance to win a “Dinner for Two” gift card valued at $30 which includes an appetizer, two entrees, a dessert and non-alcoholic drinks for two! Several local bloggers have teamed up to bring you this fantastic giveaway.

This giveaway will run from December 10 through December 16. Please enter if you live around the Kansas City area and are able to visit, or if you have family or friends you could gift the prize to. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Winner(s) will be verified, emailed and have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

The Elderpin’s Adventure (or How the Dog Ruined Date Night)

Dinner at Chuy's RestaurantEven though it was a Monday, Zach and I hit the town last night to try a new restaurant.

Dinner at Chuy’s, a diner that serves authentic Tex Mex cuisine, was awesome.

There was even one margarita involved.

But round about the time our delicious Tres Leches dessert showed up, a photo message flashed onto my phone and my heart sank.

Scooby

Along with the photo came these terrifying words:

“I have your doggie! Found him in the road.”

The message, thank goodness, came from a neighbor who knew Scooby when she saw him.

Apparently, on her way home last night, she encountered my elderpin-in-a-sweater hobbling across the often busy street just to the south of our house.

Luckily, at that time, there was no traffic. And my neighbor says she parked her car in such a way that would have blocked any other vehicles while she was catching him.

From her description, it sounds like Scooby was moving in the direction we had driven. But I don’t think he knew that. I think he was just walking toward the brightest light, a streetlight on the corner. Since his vision is failing, that’s what he tends to do now in all situations.

My neighbor found our back gate open and Luke still safe and warm in the house. Because the house was locked, she took Scooby home with her until we could come get him. Thank the universe she was there!

How did this happen?

The explanation of how my ancient miniature pinscher escaped the house on an extremely cold night is a combination of having an electronic doggy door and a faulty gate latch.

Sometime shortly after we left, Scooby must have used the doggy door to go outside and pawed the back gate.

For the past few days, that gate has been acting weird. However, the problem had been quite the opposite – it was jamming closed.

When we left for Chuy’s, I remember pulling it shut gently in the hopes of not getting locked out. I thought it had latched, but clearly it hadn’t. The gate is being fixed today.

Scooby will also be getting a new ID tag today. After years of not wearing a collar, he only recently started again, and he doesn’t have a current tag. Again – I am so fortunate his finder last night already knew him.

Yes, I feel like a terrible dog mom right now.

But I am so relieved the outcome of the elderpin’s escape wasn’t worse.

In fact, for the rest of last night, he seemed to be in quite high spirits – as if he were proud of himself for going on a 1-block adventure all by himself. I told him next time, he should at least put on his warm Santa suit.

miniature pinscher dog santa suit

Has your dog ever escaped? Share your story in the comments!

If you are in the Kansas City area, please also enter this giveaway for a chance to eat dinner where Zach and I did last night. I’ll tell you more about that experience tomorrow.

Chuy's Logo clean - red

Chuy’s originally started in 1982 in Austin, Texas. Through their eclectic restaurants and delicious Tex-Mex food their popularity has grown and Chuy’s recently opened their doors to a new Kansas City location on the Plaza. Good food is their #1 priority, and you can taste it with their hand rolled tortillas and freshly made salsa. Chuy’s offers several signature dishes such as the “Chuychanga”, their Chile Rellenos as well as signature sauces ranging in spiciness from mild to hot! (yes they added an exclamation point!). You can follow along with all the Chuy’s Kansas City fun on their Facebook page.

Chuy’s is wanting to help spread the word of their new Kansas City location by offering 5 readers the chance to win a “Dinner for Two” gift card valued at $30 which includes an appetizer, two entrees, a dessert and non-alcoholic drinks for two! Several local bloggers have teamed up to bring you this fantastic giveaway.

This giveaway will run from December 10 through December 16. Please enter if you live around the Kansas City area and are able to visit, or if you have family or friends you could gift the prize to. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Winner(s) will be verified, emailed and have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

Trader Joe’s Thanksgiving Treats And What Not to Feed Your Dog this Holiday

I guess I’m a sucker for marketing.

The Trader Joe’s seasonal dog biscuit offering got me again. I picked up this box of turkey and cranberry dog treats a couple weeks ago.

Trader Joes Thanksgiving dog biscuits

There is no pit bull on the box this time, but there are a lot of other dogs.

My favorite part of the Thanksgiving-themed packaging is the clever way it incorporates the actual size of the turkey leg-shaped biscuits into the image.

Trader Joe's dog biscuit

Once again, if wheat and soy are an issue for your dogs, Trader Joe’s biscuits may not be the way to treat your dog this holiday.

However, the overall ingredient list is short. Turkey comes first, and the hardest thing on the list to pronounce is the natural preservative – mixed tocopherols.

I have no problem feeding these to Luke, who loves them.

Luke turkey leg

Also, these festive biscuits are a much safer alternative for pets than many of the food likely to fill your table tomorrow if you are celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Here’s an infographic originally shared by Dogster that will help you remember what table scraps to your dog can and cannot have this holiday season.

what not to feed your dog at thanksgiving

Credit: Dogster

My pack and I will be enjoying family time, right here in Kansas City, at my mom’s house. If you are celebrating, what’s your plan?

You can come meet me at the following events this weekend:

Review: Lincoln Bark’s Chia-Powered Dog Treats

Lincoln Bark treats

The food and treat market for pets is trending away from products made overseas and toward boutique brands made, right here in the United States.

It’s an exciting time, with many creative recipes being rolled out.

Lincoln Bark is a new company based in Chicago that makes cat and dog treats in small batches, by hand. The products contain no wheat, soy, corn, preservatives or additives. But the dog treats do contain an unusual ingredient – Chia.

Chia is a plant in the mint family. It is the same plant that sprouts on Chia Pets.

In human health food circles, Chia seeds have been quite in vogue over the past few years.

That’s because a lot of folks consider Chia to be a superfood. Health guru Dr. Andrew Weil says Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, other vitamins and are a source of fiber.

Apparently, savvy farmers have already begun adding Chia seeds to chicken feed to boost the omega-3 levels in eggs. In foods for people, I have seen Chia advertised in baked goods, energy bars and even kombucha.

Although Dogs Naturally magazine recommends adding Chia to your dog’s diet, Lincoln Bark represents the first time I have noticed the seeds touted specifically in a pet product.

A PDF on the Lincoln Bark’s website lists a range of good things associate with Chia, including improved digestion, better joint function and mobility and better cardiovascular health.

While I can’t speak to the validity of those claims, I can say that my dogs Luke and Scooby the elderpin have very much enjoyed their Chia-powered  Sweet Little Butterpup™ and Treat Smart™ snacks from Lincoln Bark over the past few weeks.

golden retriever and LIncoln Bark treatThe Sweet Little Butterpup are small, round baked treats, about the size of a dime. They come in a variety of flavors, including Chicken Liver, Salmon, Oatmeal and Pumpkin.

The Treat Smart treats are about the same size, but more square and chewy. These come in Chicken Liver, Salmon, Roasted Peanut and Duck & Pea varieties. I have been especially impressed by Treat Smart because it is something savory and easy for the elderpin to chew.

In fact, a few weeks ago, when Scooby was having digestive issues and refusing food, the first thing I was able to get him to eat was Treat Smart. From that day on, I have fed him one or two Treat Smart snacks each night.

miniature pinscher and Lincoln Bark Chia trat

While I can’t conclusively link his good health streak directly to the treats, I can say that he has no issues digesting them. That is something I cannot say for all foods at this point in his life.

Lincoln Bark treats are definitely a hit with my pack.

If you want to try them out for your dogs, check out LincolnBark.com.

Have you or your pets ever eaten Chia?

This post is sponsored by Lincoln Bark. I received treats for my pets to sample in exchange for helping spread the word about Lincoln Bark. WaywardDogs.com only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers, and this post reflects my honest opinion. Lincoln Bark is not responsible for the content of this article.

#DiamondNaturals Offers Peace of Mind + A Giveaway [Sponsored Post]

Minnie sniff

“Be sure to check where it comes from!”

I overheard a woman bark that command to the man she was shopping with in the pet aisle of a big box store over the weekend. It made me smile.

The couple was buying food and treats for their dogs. Obviously, at least the woman was aware of the greater safety risks associated with pet products that come from China.

Made in America is one of the reasons I feel good about Diamond, a pet food company that manufacturers its products “from start to finish” right here in America. In fact, the headquarters for Diamond Pet Foods’ is actually just a few hours south of me, in Meta, Missouri. The company has three other state-of-the-art facilities located in California and South Carolina.

Diamond Pet Foods plant

But location isn’t everything.

Diamond’s commitment to food safety involves on-site product testing, microbial control and testing, as well as air and water quality controls. More than 1,300 microbiological tests are conducted at every Diamond facility every week.

The company also employs a “Test and Hold Program, in which product tests are conducted by a certified, independent laboratory.” In addition, Diamond Pet Foods facilities are also subjected to an annual Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) audit administered by  the food safety audit firm NSF International®.

Diamond Naturals safety testing

This is true of the original Diamond Pet Foods products as well as the recently launched, affordable grain-free varieties.

Giveaway

Thanks to an opportunity provided by the BlogPaws Blogger Network, I’ve been blogging about the company’s grain-free offerings over the past couple of months. My dogs have even sampled the products.

Now, Diamond is offering your pet a chance to go grain-free. Simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a Diamond Naturals gift basket, including: one 28-pound bag of Diamond Naturals Grain Free dog food in your choice of flavors, a box of dog stationery, dog bone-shaped paperclips, a decorative sign, a 2014 Dogs and Puppies calendar and a $40 Visa gift card.

All you have to do is follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter to enter.  Wayward Dogs will choose a winner in two weeks and announce them on our Facebook page.  Please be sure we can contact you by e-mail when you enter.  If you don’t see the Rafflecopter widget, please click on the link and it will take you to the widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#DiamondNaturals

This post is sponsored by Diamond Naturals on behalf of the BlogPaws Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Diamond Naturals Naturals Grain-Free dog food, but WaywardDogs.com only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Diamond Naturals is not responsible for the content of this article.

DiamondNatural852x315

Why I Choose Grain-Free Dog Food [Sponsored Post] #DiamondNaturals

dogs in a meadow with a field behind them

Do you ever stop to think about how different your day-to-day life is from a human being who lived thousands – or even a hundred – years ago?

Planes, trains, automobiles, the internet and telephones – the examples are infinite. And yet, inside, we are the same.

Our bodies function the same  and require the same basic fuel as they did back when people lived in caves, huts and traveled only by foot. It’s the same for our dogs, who have been domesticated human companions longer than any other creatures.

And yet, we feed ourselves – and our pets – very differently than we did in the beginning.

For the vast majority of Americans, that means a diet that’s packed with corn. We consume corn and other grains in many not-so-obvious ways – as sweetener in sodas, binders in meats and as additives.

One way we sneak corn and other grains into our pets’ diets is as a filler ingredient for their kibble.

Unfortunately, a lot of dogs are allergic to grains like corn and wheat, making these substances hard for the animals to digest.

I don’t know for certain if my dogs are allergic to grains. They consume small amounts in store bought and homemade treats. But the base of my dogs’ diet – the kibble they eat twice a day, every day – is rich in meat-based protein and grain-free.

I believe it  is more natural – and healthy – for our dogs not to eat a lot of grain.

Fido Fetch Photography miniature pinscher and golden retriever

Credit: Fido Fetch Photography

Wolves, who are close enough to dogs that the two species can interbreed, do not consume grain in the wild. It only seems natural that our dogs would thrive on a diet also rich in animal protein and some vegetables and fruits.

If you have been reading this blog for long, you know I like to go back to basics whenever possible. From non-toxic household products to homegrown vegetables, I aim for a life that is natural but also convenient and affordable.

This is why I choose to feed our dogs grain-free dry kibble. Kibble is less messy and controversial than a raw or totally homemade diet but is professionally formulated to meet dogs’ dietary needs.

As I have blogged about before, I am thrilled that more grain-free options are hitting the market.

Diamond Naturals Grain-Free dog food

Diamond Naturals Naturals Grain-Free is among the newest to be tested by my dogs Luke and Scooby. They recently sampled two of the company’s three varieties of grain-free kibble – the Chicken & Sweet Potato and Whitefish & Sweet Potato.

From what I could tell, the boys seemed to like it.

I love that this affordable and widely distributed dog food is made with ingredients I can feel good about, including lean meats, highly digestible fats, complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes) and natural antioxidants (fruits and vegetables).

You can learn more about the different elements that go into each bag of Diamond Naturals Grain-Free dog food in the Ingredients Glossary on the company’s website.

What’s in your dog’s food?

#DiamondNaturals

This post is sponsored by Diamond Naturals on behalf of the BlogPaws Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Diamond Naturals Naturals Grain-Free dog food, but WaywardDogs.com only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Diamond Naturals is not responsible for the content of this article.

The Pit Bulls Made Me Buy Things

Yesterday was grocery day.

Sadly, I realized this morning that I forgot the coffee.

Maybe that’s because I was too busy admiring the product packaging at Trader Joe’s to stay on track with the grocery list in my head.

The use of pit bulls on packaging influenced two of my purchasing decisions last night.

Because it’s the season for pumpkin everything, Trader Joe’s currently offers pumpkin dog biscuits. They’re wheat-filled and not particularly healthy, but we are running low on homemade beer biscuits. And it’s fun to have something seasonal around. AND WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT CUTE WHITE PIT BULL ON THE BACK OF THE BOX??!!

Luke was so impressed that he pretended to faint.

trader joe's pumpkin dog biscuits

Can you see the pibble?

After procuring dog biscuits, I headed over to the beer aisle for something I really, truly needed –  a pint bottle.

I know what you’re thinking, but this purchase really was a need.

My company Beer Paws just rolled out a new product – super cute bottle sweaters that stretch to fit any size bottle. I’d tried them on standard 12-ounce and regular size wine bottles. I wanted to see how a sweater would look on a larger bottle of special beer.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t have a huge selection of pint beers. But the cap on a certain red ale caught my eye instantly.

Lagunitas red ale beer cap with pit bull

No, Scooby, you may not have any of my Lagunitas.

Now, you may be thinking that I’m being silly. There are dogs on the labels for all kinds of products. What’s so special about the fact that these particular items feature pit bulls?

To be honest, it’s not that big of a deal. In fact, a lot of shoppers may not even recognize that the Lagunitas dog is a pit bull or assign that breed to the ambiguous white dog on the back of the treat box.

But it is just cool to see this kind of dog presented in a positive, apolitical light. They’re just dogs. And pictures of dogs make people want to buy things.

Also – October is Pit Bull Awareness Month, so I have those blockheaded dogs on the brain even more than usual.

What’s the last thing you bought because it had a dog on it?

If you want to help support a Kansas City-based organization committed to helping pit bulls in need, buy Beer Paws merchandise this month. Throughout October, at least 10% of online sales will go back to MOSH Pit KC.

Beer Paws Banner

You Don’t Have to Break the Bank on Grain-Free Dog Food [Sponsored Post]

golden retriever licks lips

When I talk to people about dog food, the subject of grain-free always comes up.

As yesterday’s post suggests, not everyone I encounter is familiar with the grain-free concept. Some even think I’m frivolous or eccentric for getting top quality food for my pets.

But my dogs are far from being lonely grain-free wolf descendants. Their food of my choice is increasingly easy to find and afford.

What is grain-free?

For the past few years, the major trend in dog food has been away from filler ingredients like corn and soy, i.e. grains. The grain-free revolution emphasizes meat first, followed by fruits and vegetables.

The idea is that feeding our dogs like this is more natural, closer to what they would eat in the wild and, consequently, more healthy.

There’s more concentrated energy in grain-free diets, which means they are more efficient – you can feed your dog less food with better results (and less waste).

I want my pets to be as healthy as possible, and I believe limiting their consumption of grains can help.

Notice I said “limiting.”

My dogs do get some treats (including my homemade beer biscuits) that contain grains, but the kibble and canned foods that make up the bulk of their diet have been sans grain for as long as I can remember.

This choice means something:

Over the years, I have spent a lot of money on dog food.

golden retriever and miniature pinscher

Justifying the Price

I am personally just accustomed to seeing the higher price tag on a bag of grain-free dog food.

I save money where I can.

Being a blogger helps, because I occasionally get samples for my pets to test. And I have developed relationships with brands wherein I am compensated with pet food or discounts in exchange for my time spent helping promote a business.

Prior to benefiting from my blogger status, I shopped around for the best deals on grain-free pet food and joined the loyalty programs for my favorite brands, which resulted in a free bag every once in a while. Anybody can do this.

No matter what I’m paying for grain-free dog food, I think of it as an investment. Pay a little more at the cash register and, hopefully, less on health issues later on.

But I snap back to reality every time someone asks me for dog food recommendations and they flinch.

I recognize that not everyone is willing or able to pay top dollar for their own food, much less their pet’s.

But there should be healthy options for every budget.

Diamond Naturals Grain-Free

Luckily, it’s getting easier to go grain-free, affordably.

As with any trend, a growing demand for grain-free dog food is driving market expansion.

Competition means better prices for us dog parents and just a generally easier time accessing this stuff.

Fellow crazy dog ladies: Have you noticed that you no longer have to go to specialty stores in order to find grain-free food?

The newest grain-free option I’ve discovered is available at the farm supply store just down the street from my house.

Diamond Naturals

What is Diamond Naturals Grain-Free?

Diamond Naturals Grain-Free is a  protein-rich, dry dog food that comes in three flavors: Beef & Sweet Potato, Chicken & Sweet Potato and Whitefish & Sweet Potato.

This line of dog food is simple – no puppy or senior formulas, just protein-based recipes for dogs of all life stages. Priced lower than competitors, Diamond created these products to help make grain-free a more affordable choice.

My dogs haven’t had a chance to try Diamond Naturals Grain-Free yet, but I’m sure they’d be happy to know the company has a manufacturing plant right here in Missouri, the state where we live.

Where do you stand on grain-free diets for dogs? Leave your answer in the comments below!

Visit the Diamond Naturals Grain-Free website to see where this brand is available in your town.

Check out Diamond Naturals on Facebook.

#DiamondNaturals

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Diamond Naturals. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Diamond Naturals Grain Free dog food, but WaywardDogs.com only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Diamond Naturals is not responsible for the content of this article.

Close Encounter with the Crazy Dog Lady

golden retriever

A funny thing happened when I started making beer biscuits for dogs and giving them away.

I realized that I’m a serious dog geek.

I mean, I basically knew this already, but my face-to-face interactions with a whole lot of people whose lives don’t actually revolve around their canines made my status almost embarrassingly clear.

You know how I figured it out?

I heard myself starting every biscuit offer with a disclaimer.

“Now, can your dog eat grains?”

Blank stare. Sudden suspicion.

I rushed to calm their fears.

“What kind of food do you give him?”

Typical reply: one of many brands or varieties of food I was certain contained a lot of grain.

I tried not to sound like a snob.

“Well, then these biscuits should be fine. Your dog is probably already consuming grains – they are filler ingredients in a lot of leading dog foods. But some dogs have a problem digesting things like corn and soy, and those aren’t things they would eat in the wild. That’s why I asked.”

Awkward pause.

“But these biscuits are OK! Some dog owners (like me) just avoid the foods that contain grains. Meal after meal can really add up, you know? But these are treats. Like a cupcake for us. You wouldn’t cupcakes for every meal, would you?”

Head shake.

“So, take the biscuits! Just don’t give your dog all of them at once. Introducing new foods should always be gradual. Just start with a little mixed in with the regular food. Or with the biscuits, maybe just one tonight and one or two tomorrow. You don’t want to overwhelm their stomach. Especially if you just feed the dog the same food all the time. It’s not a bad idea to rotate, actually. Switch up the flavors, give them some variety…”

At this point, the person tries to back away slowly from the crazy dog lady who won’t shut up.

“Do you want to try grain-free dog food? I can totally recommend some options! I can think of like five off the top of my head! You just gotta look at the label – meat first, then fruits and vegetables! Pumpkin is good! It has fiber! If your dog ever has diarrhea, you can try to give him some pumpkin to slow things down a bit!”

Horror! She is talking about dog diarrhea!!! Continue backing away.

“But these biscuits are OK! They have grains, but some of them have pumpkin, too! And you could just give him one! DO YOU WANT THE TREATS?”

papillion with beer biscuits

OK, maybe I”m exaggerating a little. Most people were happy to take my homemade treats. And I felt good giving them away.

However, the discussion of what to feed your dogs is always fascinating to me, especially as the trend away from grain continues to grow, making grain-free options more affordable.

Come back tomorrow for more talk about grain-free dog food.

Are your dogs grain-free?

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