The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to English Bulldogs" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: David AndersonPreparing for your Bulldog puppy can create a whole atmosphere of excitement. Once you have found the right breeder and are waiting for your puppy, or as you are looking to rescue an adult Bulldog, you likely have a few days to more than a year to wait. Fortunately, that preparation is going to fill all of that time.
Getting your home ready for a puppy is going to take you just as much time as preparing for a baby – it’s just that your furry baby is going to be mobile a lot sooner. You should plan to spend a good bit of time and money preparing before the new family member arrives. Though it isn’t the most enjoyable aspect of what is to come, being thorough in your preparation is definitely worth the time and effort you put into it. Making sure your new Bulldog has a safe space with all of the essentials (especially the toys) will make the puppy’s arrival a great time for everyone – especially your new canine companion.
Preparing Your Kids
Bulldog puppies are absolutely adorable, but they are not nearly as sturdy as adult Bulldogs. They are incredibly playful and do not know their limitations. Your kids will need to be careful when playing with the puppy, particularly younger children. Putting rules in place can begin as soon as you decide to adopt a Bulldog puppy or adult Bulldog. You will need to adopt a method of implementing the rules based on the age and understanding of your child or children. Preparing a toddler for the addition of a puppy is significantly different from preparing a teen. Still, the rules that you need in place apply to everyone, even you.
You will need to introduce the rules to your children as soon as you decide to bring a puppy into your home. Then you will need to periodically review the rules so that your kids know them inside and out before the puppy arrives.
Make sure to set aside some time on the day of the puppy’s arrival for one final review. When your kids start playing with the puppy that first time, you will need to be present to reinforce those rules. Remember to be very firm so that the puppy is not hurt. You will need to be present for these interactions for the first few weeks, but the first time is particularly important as even teenagers can get carried away playing with an adorable little Bulldog puppy.
The following are the five golden rules that you want to make sure your children follow from the very first interaction.
- Always be gentle. Bulldog puppies are absolutely adorable, but they are still puppies, which means they are fragile. At no time should anyone play rough with the puppy (or adult Bulldog since they will pretty much go along with whatever you want to do).
This rule must be applied consistently every time your children play with the puppy. Be firm if you see your children getting too excited or rough. You don’t want the puppy to get overly excited either because puppies may end up nipping or biting. It isn’t their fault because they haven’t learned better yet – it is the child’s fault. Make sure your child understands the possible repercussions if they get too rough.
- Chase is an outside game. It can be easy for children to forget as they start to play and everyone gets excited. That short game of getting away can quickly devolve into chase, so you will need to make sure your children understand not to start running. Once they get outside, chase is perfectly fine (though you will still need to monitor the playtime).
Running inside the home is dangerous for two primary reasons. It gives your Bulldog puppy the impression that your home isn’t safe inside because they are being chased, or worse, they get hurt. Or your puppy will learn that running inside is fine, which can be very dangerous as they get older. One of the last things you want is for your adult Bulldog to go barreling through your home knocking people off of their feet because it was fine for them to do that when they were puppies.
- Always leave the puppy alone during mealtime. This is true whenever your puppy is eating (this can apply to when your kids are eating as well since you don’t want your Bulldog to get accustomed to eating people food when your kids are eating). You don’t want your Bulldog to think that anyone is trying to take the food away. Bulldogs aren’t typically aggressive, so it isn’t likely they will nip or bite because someone is near their food. However, they can feel insecure about eating if they feel like someone may take their food, which is obviously not fair to your Bulldog. And older Bulldogs could be a bit more protective of their food, which could lead to some conflicts. Save yourself, your family, and your Bulldog trouble by making sure everyone knows that eating time is your Bulldog’s time alone.
- The Bulldog should always remain firmly on the ground. This is something that will likely require a good bit of explaining to your children as Bulldogs look a lot like toys, especially Bulldog puppies. No one should be picking the puppy up off the ground. You may want to carry your new family member around or play with the pup like a baby, but you and your family will need to resist that urge. Kids particularly have trouble understanding since they will see the Bulldog more like a toy than a living creature. The younger your children are, the more difficult it will be for them to understand the difference. It is so tempting to treat the Bulldog like a baby and to try to carry it like one, but this is incredibly uncomfortable and unhealthy for the canine. Older kids will quickly learn that a puppy nip or bite hurts a lot more than you would think. Those little teeth are incredibly sharp, and you do not want the puppy to be dropped. If your children learn never to pick up the puppy, things will go a lot better. Remember, this also applies to you, so don’t make things difficult by doing something you constantly tell your children not to do.
- All of your valuables should be well out of reach of your children, even your teens. Valuables are not something you want to end up in the puppy’s mouth, but that is almost guaranteed to happen if you leave jewelry where someone can easily pick it up. Teenagers are just as likely to grab whatever is within easy reach to play with the puppy, so they are nearly as much of a threat to your valuables as tweens and kids who are older than toddlers. If your kids get curious, they are not likely to stop to consider if they should be doing something because they want to know what will happen if they use something to play with the puppy. The end result will be an incident that will certainly not make you happy, nor your children when you get upset with them. If you don’t want your puppy or children to destroy something valuable, make sure it is never easily accessible.
Preparing Your Current Dogs
If you already have a canine or two of your own, they will need their own time to be prepared for the puppy’s arrival. Of course, you can’t go about it quite the same as with kids. There are no rules that you can tell your dogs, but there are definitely things you can do to prepare them. Once you have set the rules for the kids, you can start preparing your current furry companions. Your primary focus is to start adjusting your schedule so that you can let your dogs know that you still love them. You are going to need to make time for just them every day to accomplish this.
Here are the things you can do to help ease the transition to having a new Bulldog around the home.
- Think about your dog’s personality to help you decide the best way to prepare for that first day, week, and month. Each dog is unique, so you will need to consider your dog’s personality to determine how things will go when the new dog arrives. If your dog loves other dogs, this will probably hold true when the puppy shows up. If your dog has any territorial tendencies, you will need to be cautious about the introduction and first couple of months so that your current dog learns that the Bulldog is now a part of the pack. Excitable dogs will need special attention to keep them from getting overly excited when a new dog comes home. You don’t want them to be so excited they accidentally hurt the new Bulldog.
- Consider other times when you have had other dogs in your home and how your dog reacted to these furry visitors. If your canine displayed territorial tendencies, you are going to need to be extra careful with how you introduce your new pup. If you haven’t invited another dog to your home, you need to have a couple of play dates with other dogs at your home before your new Bulldog arrives. You have to know how your current furry babies will react to dogs in the house so you can properly prepare. Meeting a dog at home is very different from encountering one outside the home.
- Think about your dog’s interactions with other dogs for as long as you have known the dog. Has your dog shown either protective or possessive behavior, either with you or others? Food is one of the reasons that most dogs will display some kind of aggression because they don’t want anyone trying to eat what is theirs. Some dogs can be protective of people and toys too.
Puppies need their own designated areas for eating, sleeping, and residing when you are not spending time with the little guy. If you cannot give your puppy your full attention, your puppy should be in this area. This is important if you have another dog or dogs because they will not be allowed in this area. Make sure that none of your dog’s favorite toys, furniture, and other items are in this puppy’s area. Make sure your children also understand to never put your dog’s stuff in the puppy’s area.
When it is time for your dog and puppy to meet, you will need to choose a spot that is not your home. You need to find neutral ground so that your dog does not feel territorial when the puppy arrives. Neutral ground gives your dog and puppy an opportunity to know each other prior to coming home.
When you introduce the pair (or more if you have multiple dogs already), make sure you have at least one other adult with you. If possible, have your entire family present, but you need at least two adults for the meeting. If you have multiple dogs, you should have one adult per dog, and then one for the puppy. This will make it much easier to keep all of the dogs under control, because even if your dog’s reaction is excitement, you don’t want them to be too overwhelming for the puppy. The person in charge of the home must be present too. Part of that first meeting is about teaching the puppy the pack hierarchy.
Depending on how many dogs you have and their personalities, this meeting could take a while. The friendlier and more accepting your dog is, the easier it will be to incorporate the new puppy into your home. You will need to keep your puppy in the puppy area until all of the first round of shots is complete, and you should never leave your puppy alone with your dog or dogs until your puppy is older. It may take a couple of months for more protective and difficult dogs to be all right with the new addition.
The puppy adds a completely new dynamic to your home, and your dog may not be entirely happy with this energetic little puppy. That puppy’s arrival completely changes your dog’s life, and your dog is going to need some time to get accustomed to it. The older your dog, the less likely a puppy is going to be welcome. Given your older dog’s limited abilities, the poor soul may get cranky with an overenthusiastic puppy with boundless energy. Older dogs may be less tolerant of puppies that don’t follow the rules. You want your puppy to feel welcome and safe while making sure your dog knows that you still love him just as much as ever.
The same rules apply, no matter how many dogs you have. Think about the personalities of all of them as individuals, as well as how they interact together. Just like people, you may find that when they are together your dogs act differently, which you will need to keep in mind when they are around the puppy. The introduction may need to be done with one dog at a time so that you do not overwhelm the puppy. Introducing each dog one at a time will help them calm down a bit before bringing all of the dogs together at the same time.
Your dog and the puppy will need to be kept apart in the early days, (even if they seem friendly) until your puppy is done with vaccinations. Puppies are more susceptible to illness during these days, so wait until the puppy is protected before the dogs spend time together.
Humans and their close canine companions may have a lot in common, but digestion is not one of them. There are a number of foods that are safe for a human than can be dangerous or fatal to a dog. While it is fairly common knowledge that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, it is less well known that they should not eat onions and grapes.
With a breed like the Bulldog, this can be problematic because they tend to want to eat everything. As Benjamin De Jesus of Champion Bullies said, “Bulldog puppies like to pick up everything, like vacuums.” Considering how those sad eyes are going to look at you while you are eating, you have a very good reason to ignore your pup and keep the food to yourself. Since they are a medium-sized dog, small amounts likely aren’t fatal, but you should still avoid letting your Bulldog have any of the foods on the Dog Do Not Eat List.
The following is a list of foods that you need to make sure your Bulldog can never get to as they are potentially fatal if consumed by a dog.
- Apple seeds
- Cooked bones (they can kill a dog when the bones splinter in the dog’s mouth or stomach)
- Corn on the cob (it is the cob that is deadly to dogs; corn off the cob is fine, but you need to make sure your Bulldog cannot reach any corn that is still on the cob)
- Macadamia nuts
- Onions and chives
- Peaches, persimmons, and plums
- Tobacco (your Bulldog will not know that it is not a food and may eat it if left out)
- Xylitol (a sugar substitute in candies and baked goods)
In addition to these potentially deadly foods, there is a long list of things that your dog shouldn’t eat for health reasons. The Canine Journal has a lengthy list of foods that should be avoided. It includes foods like alcohol and other things that people give dogs because they think it is amusing. Remember that dogs have a very different metabolism and the effect that these foods have on them is much stronger than the effect they have on people, even a dog as big as Bulldogs.
For the sake of your Bulldog’s health, it is best just to keep all of these foods out of reach, even if the items are non-lethal.
Hazard to Fix
Just like you need to spend a lot of time preparing your home for an infant (and a lot more for a toddler), you are going to have a lot of things to fix prior to your Bulldog puppy’s arrival. Bulldog puppies are small enough to get into places that you would not expect given how big the dog will be. It is going to take you a good bit of time, so make sure you set aside at least a full month to go through your entire home (more time is better if you have months to prepare).
This section details the areas of the home where you should really focus your attention to make sure you don’t miss anything important that could be dangerous for your little darling.
Also, be aware that Bulldogs (puppies in general) will try to eat virtually anything, even if it isn’t food. Nothing is safe – not even your furniture. Puppies will gnaw on wood and metal. Anything else within their reach is fair game. Keep this in mind as you go about puppy-proofing your home.
Kitchen and Eating Areas
Easily the most dangerous room in the house, the kitchen is a combination of poisonous foods, dangerous items, and poisons. It is the room where you should probably plan to spend most of your time when puppy-proofing your home. Everything you would do to protect a small child in this room is something you will need to do for a Bulldog. This could include making sure the cabinets are locked in case your Bulldog is clever enough to figure out how to open them. They are going to be following you around like a little shadow once they are allowed out of their puppy area, and they will be learning that things open. Some of them are clever enough to be able to get into cabinets, especially the cabinets where you do not want them to go.
You will need to make sure that all poisons are put in places where your Bulldog cannot reach them (whether in the kitchen, in other rooms of the house, the garage, or in outdoor areas). Bulldogs can get into nearly everything, and they will be exploring a lot when given the opportunity. Anything that may catch your attention or draw your interest is worth a try – that’s what centuries have taught them. Being vigilant about making sure they can’t hurt themselves is vital to keeping your Bulldog safe. At no time should you leave poisons in an unsecured place in your kitchen or other area.
Trash cans are equally dangerous because that’s where all kinds of great smells exist to lure your Bulldog to misbehave. Having just gone over the list of foods that they shouldn’t eat, having any of these foods in the trash is a serious risk to a Bulldog puppy. There are also things like poisons, plastics, and other items your puppy may think should be taste tested. Just because your Bulldog is small does not mean that it is impossible for him to knock over a trash can. Take all of the necessary precautions, such as getting a trash can you can lock or storing it under a cabinet that is locked. This will keep your puppy from getting into too much trouble or creating a mess for you to clean up.
All electrical cords need to be up and out of reach of little Bulldog puppies that could be curious as to what cords are and how they work. Bulldog puppies are notorious for chewing on cords – just as much as rodents. As Melissa Riley of Stone Quarry Bulldogs pointed out, “Make sure you have plenty of chew toys and a safe area prepared for your new puppy away from house plants, electrical cords, anything you wouldn’t want him to get into.”
Then there are things like blender cords and other wires that connect to heavier items that you don’t want pulled onto your puppy. Cords aren’t just electrical either – if you have long cords for your blinds, these need to be shortened or put where they will not fall to the floor where your Bulldog can reach them.
Bathroom and Laundry
The dangers in the bathroom are almost the same as those in the kitchen, just in a smaller space. There are so many poisons in bathrooms that keeping the doors closed could be the best way to go. Since that is really not an option for many families (particularly if you have children or teenagers who are likely to forget), you need to make sure to keep everything that could attract attention and danger locked up or out of reach.
Do keep the toilet seat closed, and don’t use any automatic cleaners. Some Bulldogs have been clever enough to learn how to drink out of toilets, which means it is up to you to keep the toilets inaccessible to your curious pup. If the toilet seat is left open (as is bound to happen occasionally), make sure there aren’t any poisons in it by avoiding having any automatic cleaners in the water.
Though it doesn’t at first seem likely, the laundry room can actually be a dangerous room as well. The easiest way to deal with it is to keep the door shut if you can. Many families keep a number of miscellaneous items (including poisons) in the laundry room because it is a kind of catch-all place. You may only have bleach, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and other clothing cleaners, but even those can be very dangerous to a Bulldog. This is particularly true of items like laundry pods. You also need to keep all dirty clothing off of the floor – if for no other reason than to keep your Bulldog puppy from dragging the most embarrassing garments all around your home. There is also a chance that your Bulldog may try to eat some of the clothing, which would not be great for your Bulldog. Nor is it a great time for you as you have to take an emergency trip to the vet’s office or animal hospital.
Most of the other rooms of the house should be relatively safe since people don’t tend to keep chemicals outside of cabinets.
You will need to do a thorough inspection for cords that are low to the ground or within jumping distance of your Bulldog’s reach. All of these will need to be secured well above where your Bulldog can go. Don’t forget about spaces like the computer area and entertainment center where there is typically a lot of wiring. You will also need to check the window cords to make sure they are too high for your puppy to reach.
All cleaning products need to be stored some place that your puppy cannot go, too. If you keep objects like air fresheners on surfaces, make sure that these areas are not places where your Bulldog can go. Since most Bulldogs are allowed on couches and beds, you will need to clear off end tables and nightstands – and anything accessible from the furniture that contains chemicals.
If you have a fireplace, all cleaning supplies and tools will need to be stored in a place where the puppy cannot get into them. The area where the fire is also needs to be made inaccessible to curious puppies. This needs to be true all of the time so that your puppy does not play in the ashes or with the wiring in the fireplace.
If you have stairs in your home, they will need to be cordoned off so that your puppy cannot try to go up or down them. Tables (including end tables and coffee tables) need to be cleared of dangerous objects, such as scissors, sewing equipment, pens, and pencils. All valuables should be kept in safe locations away from furniture where your puppy will go.
If you have a cat, you are going to need to keep the litter box off of the floor. It needs to be somewhere that your cat can easily go but your Bulldog cannot. Since this could include teaching your cat to use the new area, it is something you should do well in advance of the puppy’s arrival. You don’t want your cat to be undergoing too many significant changes all at once. The puppy will be enough of a disruption – if your cat associates the litter box change with the puppy, you may find your cat protesting the change by refusing to use the litter box.
The best way to deal with the garage is to make sure your Bulldog cannot go into it. There are so many dangerous things in garages that keeping puppies out is the best policy. However, given their size, it is certain that the little Bulldog will manage to slip into the garage when you don’t expect it. With all of the chemicals, sharp implements, and other dangerous tools that are stored there, the garage is one of the most hazardous places in any home. Never leave your Bulldog alone in the garage, even when it is an adult. It is likely that your puppy will be in the garage when you take car trips, which is why it is important to puppy-proof it.
All items related to your car and its maintenance have to be stowed high off the ground where your puppy cannot go, and a locked area is the safest way to store it. This includes all lubricants, oils, and cleaners, as well as wrenches and tools. You will need to do the same for all of your lawn maintenance items, bike tools, and anything used for heavy machinery or that includes chemicals.
Bulldog puppies will chew anything, including tires, cans, tools, and bags. The things in a garage look like fun toys or potential food, making them all fair game from a puppy’s perspective. Everything that can be placed up high or locked in a cabinet should be.
You will need to do this with all of your hobbies too. Things like fishing tackle are incredibly dangerous and should be stored somewhere out of reach, too. You will need to make sure there is nothing hanging over the countertops where the puppy can try to pull it down.
The best way to tackle the problem is to enter the garage from a toddler’s perspective. Anything that you would immediately move for a toddler should be moved for your puppy. Get down low and see the garage from your puppy’s perspective. If you keep your cars in the garage, you can move them out to get a better view. Move anything that could be a potential danger.
Outdoors and Fencing
Your puppy should never be outside alone because there are too many hazards, even after you puppy-proof it. Keep in mind that you should never have your puppy outside of the designated puppy area without constant supervision. This is just as true in your yard as it is inside your home. Even if you have a fence, your puppy should not be left unattended when he is outside.
Puppy-proofing the yard won’t be nearly as time consuming as puppy-proofing the inside. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as important though, especially if you plan to play with your puppy in your yard. Plan to spend between an hour or two outside inspecting and cleaning up in preparation for the arrival of your puppy.
The biggest dangers in the yard are the chemicals, mostly because people don’t think about chemicals in the yard. Again, Melissa Riley of Stone Quarry Bulldogs warned why chemicals are so problematic: “Many things that seem harmless are actually dangerous to a new puppy. Landscaping mulch is one of those very things; it seems quite harmless and yet there are chemicals in that mulch that could make your puppy very sick. Gravel also is easily swallowed by a puppy and they can get sick and also choke…” As you prepare the outside, keep these things in mind and make changes as needed.
Begin by inspecting the fence to make sure there are no breaks, holes, or other potential problems. You will also need to look for areas that dip under the fence that would be easy for a dog to make bigger. Make sure to have all problems with the fence repaired and fill in holes under the fence. You want to make sure the cute little puppy can’t escape, and given their size, it won’t take much for them to slip through or under the fence.
Determine where in your backyard you want your puppy to go to the bathroom. You will want to make sure this area is cleared of all potential dangers because your puppy is going to be spending a good bit of time in the spot every day. All poisons and dangerous tools need to be stored elsewhere, such as in a shed or a secure place in the garage. If you have objects like a birdbath or other artificial structures in the puppy’s bathroom area, move it somewhere else. Of course, it is easiest to select an area that is already open and close to the door for rainy, hot, or cold days. It will be easier to maintain an area that is already clear.
Choose a different area in the yard for your puppy to play. Having a place for play and a place for going to the bathroom is important because you want the Bulldog to focus on using the bathroom in one place, and not be distracted by trying to play with you. This also lets your Bulldog know that it is time to play when you go to the different spot, which will make your little puppy that much more excited. Give this area the same inspection that you gave the housetraining space.
Stroll around the rest of your yard to look for other chemicals and dangers. All of them should be moved somewhere that you can secure them. Even with dedicated places for using the bathroom and playing, your Bulldog is probably going to go to other areas of the yard, particularly if you have children. Make sure there is nothing dangerous in the entire yard.
Make sure all of your current plants are safe for dogs. Puppies will just as happily chew on plants as toys, making it essential to ensure there is nothing that can harm them.
Secure all water sources, such as pools, ponds, and streams. If you have a fire pit or grill, make sure it is secure so that your puppy cannot access anything potentially dangerous.
Just like the garage, inspect your yard as if you were a toddler. Keep your eyes open for anything that could be interesting to a Bulldog, then determine what is too dangerous to remain.
Supplies and Tools to Purchase and Prepare
Planning for the arrival of your puppy includes buying all of the necessary supplies, like a crate, food, toys, and brushes. Start buying these things a month or two before your puppy arrives so that you can break up the cost over time. Bringing home a puppy can get very expensive; spare your budget by breaking the expenses up over a long period of time.
- Doggy bags for walks
- Puppy food
- Water and food bowls (sharing a water bowl is usually okay, but your puppy needs his or her own food dish if you have multiple dogs)
- Toys, especially chew toys
Feel free to add anything else you think of or want to have when your puppy arrives. Health care items like flea treatments can be purchased (they are expensive), even though you won’t be able to use them for a while. Puppies should not be treated until they reach the specified age.
Planning the First Year’s Budget
The budget for having a puppy is a lot more expensive than you would think – it’s still less expensive to bring in a puppy than a new infant. You will need to have a budget, which is another reason to start purchasing supplies a few months in advance. When you buy the items you need, you will begin to see exactly how much you will spend a month. Of course there are some items that are one-time purchases, such as the crate, but many other items you will need to purchase regularly, like food.
You also need to have a budget for the one-time purchases too. This means doing some research ahead of time for those purchases. It is almost guaranteed that you are going to overspend, but you want to stick to the budget as much as possible.
Begin budgeting the day you decide to get your Bulldog puppy. The cost will include the adoption cost, which is typically higher for a purebred dog than for a rescue. If you want to rescue a Bulldog, you should figure out where you want to find your newest family member. Plan to spend a lot of time researching costs for bringing your puppy home, as well as the other costs.
The vet and other healthcare costs should be included in your budget. Regular vaccinations are required, and an annual checkup should be included in the budget. Vet prices vary a lot between different states, even between cities, making it difficult to average the cost. It is always worth the cost, but you want to know what it will be before your puppy arrives.
There are a lot of activities that you can do with your dog. Bulldogs are great pets because you will pretty much always want to enjoy your Bulldog without ever leaving home. A simple Google search yields pages of recommendations on ways to entertain and to be entertained by your new family member. The Bulldog community is worldwide, and people who have had Bulldogs tend to adore their dogs and are constantly thinking of new ways to enjoy the company of their canine companion.
Keep Things out of Reach
Bulldogs are going to be right there with you wherever you go, which means that they are going to be able to get to nearly everything within your reach. It is very important to keep a lot of things out of their reach, especially for the times when you are not home. They can knock things over, like plants and decorations. Bulldogs can have anxiety issues, and they may knock things over while trying to look out windows to see you.
The Puppy Area
When you set up an area for your puppy, it needs to be in a place that won’t disrupt your current routines, especially for other pets. It would also be best to have an area where it will be easy to clean the floors. Your puppy is going to have a lot of accidents in those early days, and you don’t want to have nice carpeting, rugs, or flooring ruined. It should also be close to where you sleep, unless you want to set up two puppy areas, one for the day and one for the night. Breeders also recommend that it be somewhere a bit quieter so that it isn’t too overwhelming for the puppy in the early days.
Most breeders also recommend safety gates and fencing. You will need to test it to make sure that your puppy can’t get out, and other animals and children cannot get into the area. Donna Moreno of Saint Brides Bulldogs recommends “baby gates and a good sturdy crate 36 inches in length.” This way the puppy will have a comfortable crate after growing up.
There should not be any furniture in the puppy’s area either. Given their penchant to chew anything and everything, you want to make sure that the only thing constantly in their reach is their puppy paraphernalia. A few safe toys, water, bedding, and maybe a blanket that is difficult to tear up should be the only things in the puppy area.
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