Otterhound Breed Magazine - Showsight

Otterhound Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Otterhound General Appearance : The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated hound with an imposing head showing great strength and dignity, and the strong body and long striding action fit for a long day's work. It has an extremely sensitive nose, and is inquisitive and perseverant in investigating scents. The Otterhound hunts its quarry on land and water and requires a combination of characteristics unique among hounds-most notably a rough, double coat; and substantial webbed feet. Otterhounds should not be penalized for being shown in working condition (lean, well muscled, with a naturally stripped coat). Any departure from the following points should be considered a fault; its seriousness should be regarded in exact proportion to its degree. Size, Proportion, Substance: Males are approximately 27 inches at the withers, and weigh approximately 115 pounds. Bitches are approximately 24 inches at the withers, and weigh approximately 80 pounds. This is not an absolute, but rather a guideline. The Otterhound is slightly rectangular in body; the length from point of shoulder to buttocks is slightly greater than the height at the withers. The Otterhound has good substance with strongly boned legs and broad muscles, without being coarse. Balance, soundness and type are of greater importance than size. Head : The head is large, fairly narrow, and well covered with hair. The head should measure 11 to 12 inches from tip of nose to occiput in a hound 26 inches at the withers, with the muzzle and skull approximately equal in length. This proportion should be maintained in larger and smaller hounds. The expression is open and amiable. The eyes are deeply set. The haw shows only slightly. The eyes are dark, but eye color and eye rim pigment will complement the color of the hound. Dogs with black pigmented noses and eye rims should have darker eyes, while those with liver or slate pigment may have hazel eyes. The ears , an essential feature of this breed, are long, pendulous, and folded (the leading edge folds or rolls to give a draped appearance). They are set low, at or below eye level, and hang close to the head, with the leather reaching at least to the tip of the nose. They are well covered with hair. The skull (cranium) is long, fairly narrow under the hair, and only slightly domed. The stop is not pronounced. The muzzle is square, with no hint of snipiness; the jaws are powerful with deep flews. From the side, the planes of the muzzle and skull should be parallel. The nose is large, dark, and completely pigmented, with wide nostrils. The jaws are powerful and capable of a crushing grip. A scissors bite is preferred. Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is powerful and blends smoothly into well laid back, clean shoulders, and should be of sufficient length to allow the dog to follow a trail. It has an abundance of hair; a slight dewlap is permissible. The topline is level from the withers to the base of tail. The chest is deep reaching at least to the elbows on a mature hound. Forechest is evident, there is sufficient width to impart strength and endurance. There should be no indication of narrowness or weakness. The well sprung, oval rib cage extends well towards the rear of the body. The loin is short, broad and strong. The tail is set high, and is long reaching at least to the hock. The tail is thicker at the base, tapers to a point, and is feathered (covered and fringed with hair). It is carried saber fashion (not forward over the back) when the dog is moving or alert, but may droop when the dog is at rest. Forequarters : Shoulders are clean, powerful, and well sloped with moderate angulation at shoulders and elbows. Legs are strongly boned and straight, with strong, slightly sprung pasterns. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. Feet - Both front and rear feet are large, broad, compact when standing, but capable of spreading. They have thick, deep pads, with arched toes; they are web-footed (membranes connecting the toes allow the foot to spread).

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Hindquarters: Thighs and second thighs are large, broad, and well muscled. Legs have moderately bent stifles with well-defined hocks. Hocks are well let down, turning neither in nor out. Legs on a standing hound are parallel when viewed from the rear. Angulation front and rear must be balanced and adequate to give forward reach and rear drive. Dewclaws, if any, on the hind legs are generally removed. Feet are as previously described. Coat: The coat is an essential feature of the Otterhound. Coat texture and quality are more important than the length. The outer coat is dense, rough, coarse and crisp, of broken appearance. Softer hair on the head and lower legs is natural. The outer coat is two to four inches long on the back and shorter on the extremities. A water-resistant undercoat of short wooly, slightly oily hair is essential, but in the summer months may be hard to find except on the thighs and shoulders. The ears are well covered with hair, and the tail is feathered (covered and fringed with hair). A naturally stripped coat lacking length and fringes is correct for an Otterhound that is being worked. A proper hunting coat will show a hard outer coat and wooly undercoat. The Otterhound is shown in a natural coat, with no sculpturing or shaping of the coat. Faults - A soft outer coat is a very serious fault as is a wooly textured outer coat. Lack of undercoat is a serious fault. An outer coat much longer than six inches becomes heavy when wet and is a fault. Any evidence of stripping or scissoring of coat to shape or stylize should be strongly penalized as a fault. Color : Any color or combination of colors is acceptable. There should be no discrimination on the basis of color. The nose should be dark and fully pigmented, black, liver, or slate, depending on the color of the hound. Eye rim pigment should match the nose. Gait: The Otterhound moves freely with forward reach and rear drive. The gait is smooth, effortless, and capable of being maintained for many miles. Characteristic of the Otterhound gait is a very loose, shambling walk, which springs immediately into a loose and very long striding, sound, active trot with natural extension of the head. The gallop is smooth and exceptionally long striding. Otterhounds single track at slow speeds. Otterhounds do not lift their feet high off the ground and may shuffle when they walk or move at a slow trot. The Otterhound should be shown on a loose lead. Temperament: The Otterhound is amiable, boisterous and even-tempered.

Approved October 10, 1995 Effective November 30, 1995

JUDGING THE OTTERHOUND By Andy & Jack McIlwaine Aberdeen Otterhounds

P lease note, this is not the official AKC standard for the Otterhound. It is our interpretation of the standard and what we strive for in our breeding program. History Otter hunting has had a long and dis- tinguished past through some 800 years of history. Records of dogs kept solely for the pursuit of otter dates back to the 12th century during the reign of King Henry II. His son, King John, was the first Master of Otterhounds. Th ese early packs probably consisted of Southern Hounds and Welsh Harriers and crosses thereof. Th e origin of the true Otterhound as we know it today is the subject of great debate. It is suspected that their foundations came from French hounds, as the resemblance to hounds of the Vendeen region, such as the Grand Gri ff on Vendeen and Grif- fon Nivernais, is striking. Many genera- tions of breeding for special purposes have, undoubtedly, perpetuated the characteris- tics of the modern-day Otterhound. In 1977, the Otter was added to the list of protected animals in England. Along with this, came the threat that could

have lead to the demise of the purebred Otterhound in the United Kingdom. Th is prompted Th e Kennel Club to open regis- tration to hounds from the two purebred packs, the Dumfriesshire Otter Hunt, pre- sided over by Capt. John Bell-Irving, and the Kendal and District Otter Hunt. In 1978, Kendal Nimrod was the first Otter- hound to appear in the English show ring. Otterhounds were first brought to the United States around 1910. Th ese hounds were used primarily in the field and reg- istrations were not maintained. Th ey were used to cross with Foxhounds and no attempts were made to breed purebred Otterhounds. Fortunately, some pure- bred hounds from the first litters made their ways to private homes. One of these bitches, Bessie Blue, was purchased by Dr. Hugh Mouat, a veterinarian in Ithaca, NY. She was bred to Badger, one of the early imports. So launched the beginning of the Otterhound in the United States. Th e Otterhound is still considered, if not rare, at least quite uncommon. Few hounds are still used for their scent hunt- ing abilities with raccoon, mink, bear and mountain lion. A larger number are seen in the conformation and obedience rings, agility, search and rescue, including cadav- er recovery, and even as service dogs.

The Otterhound hunts its quar- ry on both land and water and thus requires a combination of characteris- tics unique among hounds. It is a large, rough-coated hound with an imposing head showing great strength and dig- nity, a strong body and long, striding action fit for a long days work. The Otterhound is an amiable, boisterous hound, quite persistent in his pursuit of his quarry. The Standard Th e parts must fit together in a manner that is the least tiring, most graceful and e ffi cient in movement. Any departure form the standard is considered a fault and the seriousness should be regarded in propor- tion to its degree. Size, Proportion & Substance Males: 24"-27", 75-115 pounds Females: 23"-26", 65-100 pounds A dog lacking in length of leg would be forced to swim rather than wade. Otterhounds are slightly rectangular; the length from the point of the shoulder to the base of the tail is slightly greater than the height at the withers. Balance, soundness and type are more important than size.

“Otterhounds are slightly rectangular; the length from the point of the shoulder to the base of the tail is

slightly greater than the height at the withers. BALANCE, SOUNDNESS AND TYPE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN SIZE.”

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“THE OTTERHOUND MUST BE CAPABLE OF A STRONG, CRUSHING GRIP. A snipy hound with lack of fill beneath the eyes

will most likely have short tooth roots and thus, lack power in the molars.”

Otterhounds are often required to hunt as much as 18 miles over rough terrain. Hounds require great strength, as well as endurance and courage. Strong, dense bones with good substance and broad muscles are a must. A broad, heavy muscle will not respond as quickly to action as a smaller, longer muscle, but is more e ffi cient in burning energy. The Head Th e head is said to be majestic. It is large, fairly narrow and well covered with hair. It is measured from the point of the occiput to the tip of the nose, with the muzzle approximately equal to the length of the skull. In a dog measuring 26" at the withers, the head should be 11"-12" in length. Note that the British standard allows the muzzle to be slightly shorter than the skull. Planes of the skull and muzzle are parallel. Th e skull is only slightly domed; young hounds occasion- ally have a prominent occiput. Th e stop is not pronounced. Th e muzzle should be square, with no evidence of snippiness. Th e Otterhound must be capable of a strong, crushing grip. A snipy hound with lack of fill beneath the eyes will most likely have short tooth roots and thus, lack power in the molars. Th e flews are deep, though not pendulous, lest the Otter have flesh to grab hold of. Th e Otterhound standard states that a scissors bite is preferred; how- ever, the position of the front incisors plays only a minimal roll in the crushing grip that allows the Otterhound to over power its quarry. An overshot mouth is often due to a receding jaw with a less powerful bite.

Th e nose is large and dark, usually black, but may be slate-colored or brown in a blue or liver hound. In the Unit- ed States, the standard calls for a fully pigmented nose, although this does not have any a ff ect on the dogs hunting abili- ties. Wide-open, forward-facing nostrils are extremely important to provide the large surface area required for enhanced scenting abilities. Th e expression and demeanor is ami- able. Aggressiveness or shyness should not be tolerated. Otter hunting was often a spectator sport-hounds would never be permitted to terrorize the neighbors. Th e eyes are deep set, with haw showing only slightly. Th e color is dark brown but may vary slightly with coat color. As with nose color, the color of the eye does not a ff ect the Otterhounds ability to hunt. A round, prominent eye would be in danger

of being scratched in the field and should be severely penalized. Ears Th e ears are an essential feature of Otterhound type. Th ey are long, and pendulous. Th e leading edge rolls to give a draped appearance. Th ey are set at or below the level of the eye. When excited, dogs will often pull their ears high on their head. Show photographers should be discouraged from throwing objects to get the dogs attention. Th e ears must reach at least to the tip of the nose. Th e leather is extremely thick and well cov- ered with hair. A thin ear would most certainly rip in the field. Because the ear is nearly water-tight, Otterhounds are prone to frequent ear infections. Th e inside of the ear may be trimmed for health reasons.



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center of gravity. A pastern that is too straight will shift the weight on to the toes and may cause injury. Th is is also a problem when the pasterns turn in or out. Th e added load on the bones will lead to the front end breaking down more quickly than in a well-constructed hound. It is not unusual to find a well-constructed hound still hunting at the age of 10. Dewclaws may be removed. Th e feet are extremely large and broad. Th ick webbing between the toes allows the foot to spread over rocky, uneven terrain. Th e condition of the pad is of great impor- tance, especially that of the heel pad which must withstand the shock of gaiting. Paper thin or splayed feet are unforgivable. Hindquarters Th e rear assembly is less for weight bearing than it is for locomotion. Th e thighs and second thighs are large, broad and powerful. Th e croup is flat. Stifles are moderately bent; again, a straight stifle would shorten the stride and lead to early fatigue. Th e hocks are well let down and short in comparison to the length of other bones. Th is aids in increasing the Otterhounds’ endurance. Gait Th e Otterhound must demonstrate the ability to do a long day’s work. Th ere is no wasted motion in the gait, which is main- tained for many miles. Th ey move freely with great forward reach and drive. Th e Otterhound has a loose, shambling walk

“THE NECK IS THICK AND POWERFUL, capable of holding the head above water and also of sufficient length to reach the ground while hunting on land.”

Neck, Topline & Body Th e neck is thick and powerful, capable of holding the head above water and also of su ffi cient length to reach the ground while hunting on land. However, longer muscles often lack strength. It blends smoothly into the shoulders. A ewe-neck would severely compromise the cervical ligaments, which would make keeping the head above water an exhaustive task. A slight dewlap is permissible. A dog lack- ing in thick, protective skin around the neck would be vulnerable to a critical, and possibly fatal wound from their quarry. Th e abundance of hair on the neck often makes it appear shorter than it actually is. Th e topline is level from the withers to the base of the tail. Otterhounds have an oval-shaped rib cage, with ribs extending well back to provide for a large area for heart and lungs. Th e brisket line runs par- allel to the ground to at least the 8th or 9th rib. An upward sweep would impair the heart and lung room. A rounded rib cage would also impair the chest cavity. Th e chest is deep, reaching at least to the elbows in a mature hound, though usually even evident in young dogs. Th e forechest is prominent. Th e loin is short, broad and strong. A rise over the loin should not be confused with a thick muscle mass. A long loin often goes hand-in-hand with straight shoulders and should be penalized. Tail Th e tail is set high and reaches at least to the hock. It is carried in a sabre fashion, never curled over the back. Th e muscles carrying the tail are a continu-

ation of the muscles in the loin. Th e tail has an extremely thick root and tapers to a point. It should be well feathered. Hunts- men often recognize their hounds only by the tips of their tails when hunting in thick brush. Forequarters Th e front assembly is perhaps the most important. It must be strong to support the weight of the dog and absorb the concus- sion of gaiting. Th e shoulders are the foun- dation of the front assembly. Inasmuch as Otterhounds singletrack at a slower speed than most other breeds, a loaded shoulder that pushes the elbows out and often leads to single tracking is often rewarded by the inexperienced eye. Th is would surely lead to fatigue in short order. A straight shoul- der would shorten the stride and also lead to fatigue. Th e legs are strongly boned and straight. Pasterns are slightly sprung with the heel pad directly under the

“THE FRONT ASSEMBLY IS PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT. It must be strong to support the weight of the dog and absorb the concussion of gaiting.”

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“WHILE IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE OTTERHOUND BE SHOWN ON A LOOSE LEAD, this is not usually possible because of their short attention span and instinct to follow their nose.”

that springs into a loose, very long striding, active trot. Th e head is extended forward when trotting. Th e Otterhound single- tracks at a slow speed and may shu ffl e at a walk or slow trot as lifting the foot high o ff the ground would require excess energy. However, the “Otterhound shu ffl e” may not be appreciated when the dog is active or alert as in the show ring. While it is suggested that the Otterhound be shown on a loose lead, this is not usually possible because of their short attention span and instinct to follow their nose. Coat Th e coat is another essential feature of the breed. Texture is of much greater importance than coat length and color is immaterial. Th e coat must be oily to enhance water resistance with a short, woo- ly undercoat for warmth. A soft coat would become extremely heavy when wet and be a great hindrance to endurance. A lack of an undercoat is a serious fault; although it must be realized that Otterhounds gener- ally will loose most if not all their under- coat in the summer months. While black or dark-colored hair is always thicker than white or blonde hair, softness should never be allowed. Otterhounds should not be discriminated on basis of color. Otter- hounds, like all dogs should be shown and kept clean. A freshly bathed dog with a proper coat will not be adversely a ff ected by a bath with shampoo, although, the oil will not be as apparent following a bath. Being a working hound, the Otterhound should be shown naturally. Any evidence of scissoring or sculpting should be severe- ly penalized. A “naturally” stripped coat is permissible. Inasmuch as most modern- day Otterhounds are not turned loose in the field, a bit of “tidying up” is acceptable.

BIOS Jack and Andy McIlwaine have been married for nearly 30 years, and together with their son Jason and daughter Jamie, have devoted their lives to Otterhounds. Andy’s mother, Nancy Dorian, gave them their first Otterhound, Ch. Chau- cer’s Sunflower in 1982. In 1985, Jack and Andy imported a dog from England, Ch. Boravin Quarryman. Th ese dogs were the foundation of Aberdeen Otterhounds. Th ey have since produced over 75 cham- pions including several top winning, BIS and BISS winners. Andy has been involved in the world of purebred dogs since the age of 12 when she and her mother purchased their first show dog—a Samoyed. Andy participated in many venues with this dog, including junior showmanship and sled-dog racing

and breeding under the Ijsbear prefix. Th ey produced many champions includ- ing a top-10 Samoyed. Jack had owned several Great Danes and began exhibiting them shortly after meeting Andy. Jason has always been active in the show world, showing a Boston Terrier at the age of 3 and winning a major on an Otterhound at the age of 5. He successfully competed in junior showmanship with his Otterhounds as well as a Border Terrie and a Briard. He is currently working as an assistant handler with Carlos Puig. Jamie, while not a dog show enthusiast, also works diligently in the McIlwaines’ devotion to the Otterhound. In their professional lives, Jack and Andy are the owners of Caveman’s Kitchen, specializing in gourmet catering at dog shows.

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EUGENE BLAKE My home is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My hobbies are golfing and fishing. I love grooming dogs and help Julie at the ken- nel in the grooming shop whenever pos- sible. I’ve been in dogs for 60 years, the last 26 have been judging starting with the Hound Group and adding Toy, Non- Sporting and Sporting. I received my lim- ited Professional Handler license in 1963. JOY BREWSTER

happy when the donkeys stay out of the gardens. I also enjoy reading. I showed some as a child, but started showing in obedience in the early 60s. I have been judging since 1979— a long time. 1. Describe the breed in three words. EB: Rough-coated, web feet and sickle tail. JB: A fun-loving comical breed among his or her own people. RR: Large; sound; impervious coat. PS: Powerful, strength and dignity. (These words are used with in the standard and describe the Hound well.) 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? JB: Good bone and substance; back line firm and straight; decent head only fairly narrow, and a good eye along with a proper natural crisp coat. RR: Like Foxhounds, Otterhounds should have the bone, muscle and condition to leave no doubt that they can do the job; the anatomy of a Hound with the soul of a Terrier. The double coat, virtually impervious to dirt and water, is an absolute essential. I have hunted with packs that integrated English Foxhounds, but to my knowl- edge the hounds have not been interbred. I like to find elegance under that coat. I always check the feet closely, depending on the presence of the interdigital membrane to assure me that it’s not a Foxhound. PS: I want a Hound that shows strength and power in his conformation and most of all in his movement. I want good ears that are well draped. Again as the standard states, I want powerful jaws. The Otterhound should be shown in working condition. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? EB: Over grooming. This breed should not be neatly groomed and when that is done, for me, they take away BONE, MUSCLE AND CONDITION TO LEAVE NO DOUBT THAT THEY CAN DO THE JOB.” “OTTERHOUNDS SHOULD HAVE THE

I live in Newtown, Connecticut. Out- side of dogs, I am involved with some local civic groups, but most of my life is consumed with dogs as I own a com- mercial kennel where we have boarding, training, grooming, water sports and Barn Hunt Clinics. I have been associ- ated with the Greenwich Kennel Club for many years in many positions. I was born into the world of show dogs as a breed-

er/exhibitor. As for showing, I had my first home-bred and shown Champion at seven years old. I’ve been judging since 2002 for conformation and 1994 for Junior Showmanship. RICHARD REYNOLDS

I live in Tenafly, New Jersey and out- side of dogs, I am part of a forensic con- sultancy practice. Dogs, in some form or another, have been the controlling part of my life since I was 14 years old, first as a breeder of Beagles, then as an AKC licensed professional handler and a judge since 1981. A twelve-year run as a Master of Foxhounds slowed down my judging career more than a little. I handled Otter- hounds for Albert and Shirley Dodge.

POLLY SMITH I live in St. Stephens Church, Virginia, outside of dogs I enjoy gardening vegetables, flowers and herbs and I am

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winners of the past; much less had their hands on them or talked with the owner-breeders. The dog people of today appear to live in the here and now—the past is out of the picture. I can name a few breeders here in the east that the majority of new judges would not even be able to name. These people had shown and or bred top-winning Otterhounds within the past 20 years. RR: The Otterhound, like the Foxhound, is a fairly straight- forward breed. They do have a bit of a quirky gait, so you can’t judge for reach and drive alone. As important as the coat is, it is what is under that thicket that counts. You can, and should, have both size and elegance. PS: I think they misunderstand the coat. The coat is an essential feature of the breed; the outer coat is rough, coarse and crisp, it should have a broken appearance and a water-resistant undercoat. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. RR: In the 1987-1988 season, there were but 15 recognized packs of Otterhounds in England and only two in Ireland. Most of these, to a greater or lesser degree, depended on drafted Foxhounds to complete the pack. Some packs though, such as the Dumfriesshire, have occasionally let good hounds come out to the show world. These hounds, from rock solid bloodlines, have been used by breeders in the US to produce some very nice hounds. Dr. Mouat’s linebreeding was used to produce some great hounds including the Rin-Jan Dandelion Whine, that can be found in many present pedigrees. PS: I think the Otterhound is a lovely Hound when you see a good one—majestic and powerful. I have a couple of Otterhound paintings that hang in our home along with the Foxhound art. There is a nice picture of four Otter- hounds from the Dumfriesshire pack in the book Hounds of the World. I hope that what I have written will be helpful and informative to new judges coming along. As a breeder of a Hound breed—although not rare like the Otterhound, but as one not seen in large numbers in AKC shows—I would ask judges to learn as much as they can about them. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? RR: Many years ago, I was on the way to the ring to show a Beagle to Anna Katherine Nicholas. Crossing a small bridge, I saw and picked up a small bullfrog. She gath- ered a lot of information from her sense of touch. On the table, I set the bullfrog down between the Beagle’s back legs and waited for the inevitable. Miss Nicholas reached for the testicles, the bullfrog croaked and jumped and I had a very serious discussion with the AKC rep.

the breed’s natural characteristics. Also lack of bone, some are becoming too fine boned. JB: Some coats I believe are being manufactured with prod- ucts and the dogs outline is being sculptured. RR: Like the English Foxhound, Otterhounds were devel- oped to perform a very specialized job and perform it very, very well. In water, where great distances are not an issue, they excel beyond even Welsh Foxhounds. That being said, predominance of those characteristics that enable superior function is often obvious. It is not a breed of moderation. PS: Not really, my fear is that we are not seeing strongly made Hounds. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? EB: Yes, better. The bites are better, as well as temperaments and soundness. JB: I do not believe they are better. I have seen more bad bites in recent years than in the past. RR: Because of their rarity and superior stewardship of the breed by breeders, I believe the breed is in as fine shape as it was before the revision of the standard in 1995. Although the original quarry (otter) has been outlawed, the existing packs continue to work on mink. Work is work however and it continues to be a proving ground for Hounds bred to the standard. PS: Some are better, some are not. This is true of many of our breeds. The competition is not around to get down to nitpicking judging. Without strong competition, judges and breeders begin to forgive faults and they become the norm. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? JB: New judges have generally only been exposed to a few Otterhounds before they judge them and never saw “I THINK THE OTTERHOUND IS A LOVELY HOUND WHEN YOU SEE A GOOD ONE— MAJESTIC AND POWERFUL.”

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