September 21, 2007

Goodbye Ashley

Today I had to say goodbye to my cat Ashley. She had been losing weight and Monday she quit eating. I took her to the vet on Tuesday and the vet said her kidneys were failing. The vet tried for three days to see if she could get her better, but it was no use. I brought her home last night to spend one more day with her before I had to say goodbye forever. I had nine wonderful years with her. She was the sweetest cat I have ever met. She was the Will Rogers of housecats. She loved everyone. That's what saved her life.

It was September of 1998 and I had just moved into GOC Central in Beautiful Dunwoody. I was down to one cat, Doofus, and I wanted to get another. I've usually had two cats, although once I had four. I was looking for a female tabby. Cindy's daughter Maureen found one for me.

Maureen was in Vet School at the University of Georgia. Their research center had this cat that they really loved and wanted to find a good home for. Research cats do not usually make good pets. They spend most of their lives in cages and do not usually have good dispositions. Not this cat. Everytime someone would walk by her cage she would stick her paw out begging for attention. Normally, the cats would be put to sleep after the project they were used for but this cat was so sweet they asked around to see if anyone would adopt her. Maureen adopted her for me so technically, she was Maureen's cat.

They spayed her before the adoption. Unfortunately, they botched the anaesthetic and when Maureen brought her to me she was scrawney and partially blind. Maureen was surprised that I agreed to take her in that condition. I'm glad I did. I had to put an ointment on her eyes. Rather, Cindy had to put an ointment on her eyes while I held her. She was declawed, but she really knew how to use her back claws. Cindy has the scars to prove it.

After two days, Maureen had to take her back to Athens for a checkup. When she brought her back, Ashley, which is what I named her, raced under the bed and there she stayed. She really freaked out. She had escaped Aushwitz and Maureen took her back. She came out from under the bed to eat and use the litter box, and then it was back under the bed. I used to dangle a piece of string to get her to come out.

One day I saw her stalking an ant. That was when I knew she was no longer blind. Scrawney? Not likely. She grew out of that and became a little porker. I remember she had a little fishing pole toy that she loved so much she would drag it all over the house.

She also loved to torment Doofus who was about ten years old at this time. Doofus was an easy going cat and he put up with it. Well, not at first. He would growl and hiss at her but that never bothered her. She just kept on coming. Doofus finally accepted her. Cindy once said that Doofus was the Golden Retriever of house cats. I used to tell Ashley about Karma. She experienced it after Doofus died and I got Scooter. Scooter would torment her. I noticed he stopped doing that about six months ago. Ashley was beginning to show her age.

I think Ashley was five when I got her. She was a mom at least once, maybe more. These cats have a very distinctive coloring which is called Agouti. They use them because they breed true. At least that's what Maureen told me. What do I know? I just know that she was a very beautiful cinnamon colored tabby.

She loved to sit on my lap (She loved to sit on anyone's lap) and be combed. And did she shed! That was the downside of her sitting on your lap. Cat hair. Lots of it.

Over Christmas in 1998 I got a very bad skin sore on my right instep. I required IV antibiotics. Cindy would come over to administer them and Ashley loved to bat at the IV line. If it moved, it was a toy. She also liked to oversee a dressing change. Gotta get some cat hair in that open wound. That's when we started calling her the nurse cat. She was a kitten until about two years ago. That's when she started slowing down.

Her first five years were not so good, but because she was such a sweet cat, she got nine years in a very good home. Every day was a bonus. She gave me unconditional love and was the sweetest cat I have ever met.

I took her back to the vet today and stroked her while she died. She was a great cat and a wonderful friend. I only wish that I could have had more than nine years with her.

Update: Thanks to all of you who have sent me condolences in the comments and by e-mail. I really appreciate it. I will soon be going to a shelter to offer another cat a good home. If I were not going out of town, I would have done it today. The day Doofus died, I adopted Scooter. All of my cats have come from shelters or have been strays with the exception of Ashley who escaped from the death camp.

Posted by denny at September 21, 2007 11:24 AM  Category: My Soft Side

My sincere condolences on your loss, Den. I understand how you feel.

Posted by: DanS. on September 21, 2007 11:31 AM

Denny, I'm very sorry for your loss. I went through the exact same thing that you had gone through with Doofus, and I could NEVER handle going through it again. Sincere thoughts and best wishes, my friend.

Posted by: Greg on September 21, 2007 11:42 AM

I lost one a couple years back and had to replace it immediately. I'm so used to a cat being around the house. I ended up getting two sisters, and boy are they a handfull. I don't know what I would do without them though. Sorry for the loss Denny.

Posted by: CharlieDelta on September 21, 2007 11:42 AM

The love these animals give is unbelievable. It's always so sad to see them go. You'll never forget Ashley, she'll live on in you and you'll meet again at the Rainbow Bridge. Where not only will she be at her best, but damn Denny, I think you'll be running too!

Posted by: MM on September 21, 2007 11:55 AM

This time I can truthfully say that I feel your pain and loss. I had to put down my Snowflake, a true ship's cat, three years ago and I haven't gotten over that yet.

Yes, these cats know how to get locked into their heart, yes they do.

Posted by: Rivrdog on September 21, 2007 12:06 PM

I feel your pain. We just got a new one here at the office, Fast Eddy. Our other cat Max the Manx died a couple of months ago. He was almost 18 years old.That was the first time I had ever seen my Dad cry.I found him walking to the bus stop in the 8th grade and got to ditch school that day. My condolences.

Posted by: kerrcarto on September 21, 2007 12:07 PM

Sorry for yr loss, Denny. You DO know that you will have to get another one-soon-don't you ?

Posted by: chg657 on September 21, 2007 12:21 PM

I'm so very sorry. It's one of the hardest things that happens - losing pets. *sigh*

Posted by: Teresa on September 21, 2007 12:30 PM

Aw, Denny! I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sending big hugs your way, okay?

Posted by: Omnibus Driver on September 21, 2007 12:37 PM


Unfortunately death is a part of life....I have had pets all of my life & currently we have the cat that loves my wife but tolerates me only at feeding time, but I still care for her. "The wife Too". Get yourself another will not replace the memory of Ashley, but it will give you all kinds of new ones.
Take Care..Dudley1

Posted by: Dudley1 on September 21, 2007 12:53 PM

Oh, Denny, that sucks. She was such a pretty girl, too.


Posted by: caltechgirl on September 21, 2007 12:53 PM

very sorry to hear of your loss, it's a tough thing to lose a beloved pet. our Lab, Sheba the Hound from Heck, passed away in her sleep earlier this year, after being part of our family for fifteen years. our cat, Tiger, is pushing seventeen and is getting pretty skinny and scruffy looking and sleeps about twenty three hours a day, but still gets around fine and eats like a horse. i rue the day that she passes, she's like my shadow when i'm home.
hang in there, pard.

Posted by: gregor on September 21, 2007 12:54 PM


I don't even know you (other than a semi-daily visit to this blog) But I have enjoyed your commentary and candor.

I offer my heart felt condolences at your loss. I too have a couple of cats and have always had felines in my family in one capacity or another. I truly feel the loss of your family member and wish you fond memories of a faithful friend.


Posted by: John Carmichael on September 21, 2007 01:00 PM

People without pets in their home will never understand how it feels to lose a loved one, and how empty it feels at first. I agree with numerous posts, that a great way to help the process is to get a new memory maker asap. Sorry for your loss.

It is a house until you get a pet, then it is a home. Kids aren't bad either, but they make a bigger mess.

Posted by: Don on September 21, 2007 01:12 PM

Denny Ė my deepest condolences, from one who has gone through the pain of having to hold a kitty while putting him [in your case, her] down. I hope, wherever Ashley is, she is hopping over rainbows, playing with a really long string, or a cardboard box [they like those] and sticking it to the moonbat pussycats.

Posted by: Erica on September 21, 2007 01:26 PM

My condolences as well, Denny. Every pet owner and animal lover can relate to your loss and pain.

My two girls are about 13 now and have starting showing their age. One of them was also diagnosed earlier this year with diabetes, which means I must give her insulin shots daily. She's recovered quite well (she was thin and not grooming herself at all for a while), but she and her sister are both getting up there regardless.

It's rough to see them age so much faster than we people do. You have to love them that much more in their shorter lifetimes to make up for it.

Posted by: Dar on September 21, 2007 01:42 PM


Words are simply inadequate now. Lost my beloved Ariel on 15 Jul 06, in my arms....but she went very suddenly, in under 2 hrs time, from an enlarged heart.

She was 11 years old, her brother Harley is now 12-1/2 and going strong.

I so wish he'd live my whole life through.

You said the same of your Ashely, that you'd love to have her another nine years. I wish you could have, too.

I will raise a toast to her memory, and to your solace, my friend.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on September 21, 2007 01:53 PM

I am so sorry Denny, it is hard to lose a good friend. Sweetthing and I are about to go through this with our Miss Sassie Poodle soon..makes me want to cry.

Posted by: GUYK on September 21, 2007 01:54 PM

A cat will make you earn its love, but it sure is worth the effort. My condolences on your loss. Hang in there.


Posted by: Jim Withem on September 21, 2007 02:00 PM

Losing a pet is horrible. I've been there, and I'm sure we all have. My sincere condolences.

Posted by: Sally on September 21, 2007 02:27 PM

Denny, I'm so sorry to read about your little Ashley. My son and I had to put our beloved Cutey to sleep on August 11, so I know the pain you are experiencing. Cutey was a 17 year old Maine Coon who had the sweetest disposition. She was born in our home when my son was 7, and she became his "buddy", sleeping with him every night, helping him eat his french fries and being there for him for most of his young life. She was once 20 pounds, but age finally caught up with her within the last 6 months. She experienced liver and kidney problems and, after numerous trips to the vet, we found ourselves faced with the ultimate decision. As with you, we both held her and stroked her as she slowly slipped away. We loved her, and that love was returned many times over. Maine Coons are a very special breed, the "Gentle Giant" if you will, but Cutey was extra special, and we shall miss her, as you will you precious little Ashley. Be thankful that she shared your life for as long as she did. I'm sure she loved you very much.

Posted by: Jerry on September 21, 2007 02:48 PM

Sorry for your loss, Denny. Having two cats and two dogs, I can certainly understand how you must feel.

Posted by: Alan on September 21, 2007 03:16 PM

Denny, sincere condolences from me, my wife and our score of little furry ones. Having more doesn't make it any easier, and I speak from experience.

Posted by: John in May-retta on September 21, 2007 03:25 PM

Ah Denny, they never stay with us long enough. No matter how long we have them, it always seems too soon.

Posted by: Nancy on September 21, 2007 03:45 PM

My condolences, Denny.

The downside of having Animal Companions with lives that are so short compared to ours is that we find ourselves having to say goodbye. SWMBO and I will be thinking of you.

Posted by: Elisson on September 21, 2007 03:46 PM

Sorry for your loss.
It sucks when one's master dies. As you all know... it is the cat that owns the human and not the other way around like with dogs. True cat lovers will certainly know what I mean by that.

Posted by: Dave Hughes on September 21, 2007 03:50 PM

Oh, Denny! I am sorry for your loss! Pets are family, for sure. Ashley was a beautiful cat!

I have had people look at me like I'm crazy for administering glaucoma medicine to a pet rabbit (Peter) and for syringe feeding a cat. Currently, I am taking care of my daughter's two elderly rats, and I have become quite attached to them (if you've never owned a rat, you probably won't understand this, but they are very sociable and intelligent little animals). One of the rats has lymphoma, and I have to give him prednisone and antibiotics three times a day. But I do it because I want to keep him around as long as he is happy and comfortable. Last night, he curled up on my husband's lap and watched television and got his ears scratched. We all have a soft spot for our wretched looking old rat!

I think it would be good to look through your photos and find pictures of Ashley and Doofus. Acknowledging that you provided a loving home for your friend (when so many animals don't have that luxury) may help to ease the pain a little. Knowing that you've made her time here happy has to be of some comfort. I have a ribbon board on which I keep photos of all of our pets, deceased and living. It's a happy tribute to the animals that have enriched our lives.

Posted by: Peggy U on September 21, 2007 04:05 PM

You did the right thing. What a good life she had with you, wonderful simpatico years.

Posted by: Oda Mae on September 21, 2007 04:28 PM

Denny, I've been lurking on your site for several years and feel that I've come to know you. I too have recently experienced a loss like yours. Please accept my condolences, you're a good man for taking her in and giving her a wonderful home.

Posted by: Jim K on September 21, 2007 04:32 PM


Man, I am so sorry for your loss. I know some people can't understand pets, and it took me a while to get used to my wife's cats, but I know it is never easy when they go.

I hope you found some peace in being able to bring her home one last evening.


Posted by: Gus Bailey on September 21, 2007 04:33 PM


Sorry to hear about Ashley.....lost my cat who was 20 years old back in 2004, and (this is the scary part) ended up with 11 kittens in order to mend the hole in my heart....

Right now we are watching our Sheltie as she lives out the twilight of her years and my heart is already breaking.

Got her for the kids when they were in kindergarten and first grade, now those "kids" are 19 and 20 years old.

Anyway, just know that you have lots of sympathetic friends out there....and in some small way, or maybe in a very big way, they really do share your heartache.

Posted by: Ruth on September 21, 2007 04:35 PM

I have no words to make it better so I will just say I am sorry you lost your pet. Take comfort in the wonderful life she shared with you.

Posted by: Kim on September 21, 2007 04:46 PM

When I first ran into this earlier I was unable to respond at the time.

About 3 months ago my furry friend / companion / "cat" passed away and I am still sensitive to it.

Nothing I can say that will help, but perhaps just that "I understand too well" might be some comfort, you are not alone.

Amazing how the get into your heart.

Most surprising to, me anyway, is that she converted me from a world class cat hater to a (as someone said) "Cat Slut" :-).

Also she taught me that good souls have no specific form.

I miss her terribly. She was stellar. The other three are "just cats" but because of her and that driven home awareness that they don't live forever, I treasure the other three more because of her.

I do miss Dainty Feet / Nimitz...



Posted by: fox3 on September 21, 2007 05:03 PM

... she was a beauty, Denny.... I am sorry that she is gone...

Posted by: Eric on September 21, 2007 06:54 PM

Damn, Denny, that's shitty news to read as soon as I open my web browser. Losing a long-time pet is really hard. I cried like a baby when I had Jake put down. We'd been bestest friends for 11 years.

May your memories of the happy times with Ashley push the grief from your heart.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on September 21, 2007 06:55 PM

I'll join in on the condolences. As with everyone, I've had to put more animals down than I care to think about. Jesus, the loss and the pain is unbearable.

You, as well as everyone that has posted, are angels. Giving an animal a good life and showing your love to them is indicative of your character.

Got to say I was surprised as I read the comments on Saturday Boobage!

Posted by: Cheryl on September 21, 2007 07:05 PM

I'm really sorry. This is one of the terrible moments in life.

Posted by: Andy on September 21, 2007 07:34 PM

We came here via Leslie's Omnibus. we are so sorry for your loss. Ashley sounds like she was a wonderful girl. She will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge, and you two will meet again.

Rest well dear Ashley. We will see you at the bridge.

Sammy and Miles

Posted by: The Meezers on September 21, 2007 08:35 PM

Sorry, Buddy. I saw the title and the first few lines of this post in my reader, and I knew what it was about. I didn't have the nerve to read it until now.

Again, so sorry. That really stinks.

Posted by: Jimo - PRS on September 21, 2007 08:42 PM

Sorry for your loss Denny. We(the Budman Family) send you our condolences. The kids think that she is beautiful. They have seen your cats over the past few years when you have done remodeling or bought new things to show off.

We have two cats (2 yrs old and 1 yr old), a dog (2 yrs old), and a snake (9 yrs old). The first three are still young and I hope they have many years ahead of them. The snake is now about half way done with life and going strong. They only thing is, you really don't become too attached to a snake as much as you would a cat or a dog.

Anyways, a cat lover, dog lover, or both, they always become a part of your family and it is hard to see them go. You will never forget Ashley or Doofus. They are apart you in love and memories.

Posted by: budman8 on September 21, 2007 08:56 PM

My sincere condolences Denny. It's harder losing most pets than most people.

Posted by: Ric on September 21, 2007 09:41 PM

I am sorry Denny for your loss.

Posted by: anitaman on September 21, 2007 09:47 PM

Denny: They are worth more than humans many, many days. Thanks for sharing. Joe

Posted by: f5joe on September 21, 2007 09:52 PM

Losing a good friend is losing a part of you.
Youíll carry that scar for a long time.
My sincere condolences.

Posted by: silas on September 21, 2007 10:18 PM

Denny, our condolences for your loss.

Posted by: Unix-Jedi on September 21, 2007 10:26 PM

Sorry to hear this, Denny. When my cat Smokey, a beautiful Russian blue, died at 20 years old, it was good and bad. I got Smokey when I was 18, before I graduated from high school, and she was with me for 20 years until I was 38.
Also good because I knew her suffering was over, but bad for the reasons everyone else has alluded to here.
Toward the end I was giving her IV's every day when I got home from work to replace the fluids she couldn't produce.
I knew I'd never be able to replace her, and to this day, 9 years later, I still haven't.
These days it's just me and my 2 1/2 year old Scottish terrier Lilbit, who's the sweetest dog you'll ever meet.

Posted by: Rob Cooper on September 21, 2007 11:51 PM

I have had at least one cat and at times as many as three over the last forty years. Some moved on quick, others stayed over twenty years. Remember every damn one of them. Except for the heathan sitting at my feet right now, I miss them all. Each one had the ability to bring me joy in its own way.
I am sorry for your loss. If you don't drown your ass in Bonaire next week, get down to the pound when you get back and save a life. The little shit will worm its way in to your heart.
Bless you Denny.

Posted by: ChuckS on September 22, 2007 01:21 AM

Condolences for your loss Denny...

Posted by: Prosper on September 22, 2007 01:47 AM

Ditto all the above remarks
and have a great time scaring fish
Ashley was a beautifully unusually gorgeous colored cat and I hope you have many photos of her
I love to go over all those photos of my pets who have passed when I feel always cheers me up, as I hope pix of your Ashley will when you are ready

Posted by: ty guy on September 22, 2007 03:33 AM

I'm very sorry for your loss. You had nine special years with a wonderful friend, and while losing her is a terrible trial, I'm sure you'll always remember your times with her fondly.

Posted by: Squidley on September 22, 2007 04:23 AM

I know how you feel, Denny. I really do. I've had two cats since 1995, and I'm breaking up the pair after 12 years.

But I'm getting a kitten this weekend. Jazz and the new kid will need a week to get used to each other, but that can't be helped.

Pistache had a good life. Ashley did too. It's ok.

Posted by: red collar on September 22, 2007 05:55 AM

Denny, I am so very sorry for your loss. Ashley was a lucky girl to end up with you, but it sounds like you were the truly lucky one to end up with such a sweetheart.

Posted by: AnnaD on September 22, 2007 09:21 AM

So sorry Denny. Such a damn well written piece. Makes us all feel like we knew her. Losing a pet: one of the most underrated pains life offers.

Posted by: patrick on September 22, 2007 09:22 AM

As tough as it is, just remember Ashley is at peace & not suffering now...And knows her Daddy loved/loves her...

Posted by: Sandy G on September 22, 2007 09:44 AM

I am so sorry for your loss. It never is easy when you lose some one special like that.

Posted by: Maeve on September 22, 2007 11:00 AM

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Posted by: B....... on September 22, 2007 02:16 PM

My condolences, Den. It hurts bad to lose a pet. A member of the family. Glad you were home, though.

Posted by: Velociman on September 22, 2007 03:35 PM

I'm so very sorry, it hurts to lose them, and even though you know going in that they won't stay long, you take them in anyway. Ashley was very lucky to have you, I'm sure she loved you every bit as much as you loved her. Knowing when it was time to let her go and having the strength to be with her was the greatest expression of that love.

We've had a few put down. It sucks, there's no doubt. I don't regret taking any of them in, and we still have a bunch (more keep showing up), but when they go they leave a hole in your heart.

Um -- if you're up for it, we have three kittens born to a stray cat we took in that will be 8 weeks old on November 4th. We're not far from Columbia, can I bring you a kitten? :-)

Posted by: JT on September 22, 2007 06:45 PM

my condolences, Denny. She was a beautiful cat whom you saved. She will be missed even by those who never knew her

Posted by: Rachel on September 22, 2007 07:32 PM

Condolences Mr. Denny. I have had cats all my life and have loved all of them. Currently, a mama and her four kittens have adopted us (outside) and I have a crippled cat from the vet on the inside. I know the hurt and pain of losing them, which is all the more reason to get another when you get back.


Posted by: Kentuckyjoe on September 22, 2007 08:04 PM

Sorry for your loss.

Posted by: vetfromhell on September 23, 2007 12:45 AM

That's sucks Denny. I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Haha on September 23, 2007 02:09 AM

We feel terribly sorry for your loss, but at the same time we rejoice for a life that had at least some joy and love in it. You made it possible for her to live it out in the best of homes until she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and that is the best you could've ever done. You know it deep in your heart because you're about to do it again, bless you.
Next time you see a rainbow, try to listen in the wind. You might hear a faint purr, telling you all is ok and she is there someplace still near.

Posted by: Babeth on September 23, 2007 02:49 AM

I'm very sorry to hear that my friend...Iíve been there and i know that terrible, terrible feeling.
My deepest condolences to you and your family.

Posted by: DD2 on September 23, 2007 08:28 AM

Condolences from an animal lover, pet sitter, animal rescue volunteer, and a human who belongs to four dogs, one red fox and several stray kitties....thank you for giving her a wonderful home and considering offering another kitty life.

Posted by: vicki on September 23, 2007 10:00 PM

I know how you feel. It's been over 20 years since I had to put my first cat down and it still sucks.....On the other hand,like several others here I too wish you weren't a country and a half away as I have a selection of kittens I've been trying to find homes for......Oldest kid moved out with girlfriend and left two cats behind. This combined with our two housecats(one of which was rescued from our garage) brings total up to 9 housecats. Or did I not mention one of kids cats was preggers..or was,more correctley. Now have enough cats to open our own Chinese cafe...Also named one Yassar Hairycat as he's the leader of the terrorists. if you've had five kittens in one house you'll know what I mean.

Posted by: big al on September 24, 2007 02:34 AM

My sincere condolences on your great loss.

I'm with Chuck. Each dog, cat, bunny, and rat have left to heaven with chunks of my heart attached. The worst day of my life, however, was November 9, 2004, when my beloved Trouble left me. A black bunny that I rescued from a pet shop, where the owner admitted that if I didn't buy him, he would have been snake food.

If he knew I was going to work he would be sitting at the door not letting me out. He would follow me around and sit at my feet like a cat. He would climb on anything (I have a picture on my desk of him on top of the end table eating the newspaper). He would come and lay his head in my hand when I was upset.

As he lay dying, he would drag himself over when I sat down next to him and put his head in my hand. I went to the bathroom, and found him when I came out dragging himself down the hall to find me. Nine years wasn't long enough.

And if he's not in heaven when I get there, then I'm going to be hunting for him. For me, it wouldn't be heaven without him.

Imperial Keeper

Posted by: Elizabeth on September 24, 2007 09:31 AM

I am late here, but wanted to let you know I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by: oddybobo on September 24, 2007 03:22 PM

I know its a little late but please accept my condolences as well. I have a cat named Mule that thinks I'm his daddy and moma. I found him in a tree in my yard right after Hurricane Wilma a couple of years ago. He wasn't even weaned yet. I bottle fed him until he could eat solid food. He and I are inseparable when I am home. I could not imagine losing him. I do know the feeling though. I've had 2 hound dogs and one english bulldog that I raised from puppies die in the past couple of years. It's damn hard. I feel for you and I wish you the best. Animals are much better friends than people.

Posted by: Assrot on September 24, 2007 07:02 PM

I am so sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful cat. Bless you for adopting strays and shelter cats.

Posted by: Muttmom on September 24, 2007 07:40 PM

Reading this story brought tears to my eyes. I know where you are coming from, as I just lost my two Broder collies (they were litter mates) and miss them very much. It's the little vacuuming and not have Sweet P bite at the hose...for the first time in 12 years.

I think your adoption opinions are right on and bet you will find just the right, lucky cat to share your home. Nothing will replace the one you lost, but you will have a new "soft spot", and I do hope you will share some pictures with your faithful readers here.

Posted by: Shirley on September 25, 2007 04:54 PM

Ashley was a pretty cat.
I'm sorry she is gone.

Posted by: Connie on September 25, 2007 06:42 PM
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