Celebrating our Berner Veterans
In Loving Memory of
Ebnet's Kold Mazama Winter
September 8th 1998 to February 26th 2011
Proudly owned and so sadly missed by Ruth Nielsen
The Winter-Boy's Last Adventure
It was a year ago on a snowy February weekend at our mountain house in Mazama that the Winter-boy made his mark by entering the Doggie Dash, a fun ski race for Nordic skiers and their canine companions in costume. Last year 11 year old Winter-boy was using his snazzy red wheels to get around because he could no longer use his rear legs. My husband Chris put skis on Winters wheels so Winter could ski in the Doggie Dash race as the Paralympic Pooch. Winter proudly skied across the finish line with Chris, happy to be out on the snow and be part of the race as he pulled himself along on his skis. This year as 12 ½ yr. old Winter had lost the strength in his front legs as well and needed a 4wheel rig to get around, I wished that Winter could be in the race once again. We decided it would be too difficult to put skis on Winters 4wheel rig and the 4wheel rig was too heavy to use on the ski trails. If only there was a way Winter could be part of the fun just one last time
Then I remembered our ski sled a deluxe sled like the ones pulled by ski patrollers to rescue injured skiers designed to be pulled by a skier, with a seat for a passenger in the sled. I realized we could put Winter in the sled and he could be rescued by the K-9 Ski Patrol! It would be easy to come up with costumes Chris had a red ski jacket, and Berner boy Tonka had a red search and rescue vest with a cross on it. I added a white cross and K-9 to the back of Chriss jacket and Voile! Chris and Tonka became the perfect K-9 Rescue Ski Patrol with Winter as the rescuee! Race day for the Doggie Dash was a beautiful sunny day with just a hint of fresh snow. Chris and Tonka looked very official in their red jackets with the rescue crosses, and Winter was happy to be bundled up in the sled, ready to be rescued. There were a lot of dogs dressed in wild outfits, ready to run while their costumed owners skied hard to the finish line but Winter looked the most regal as he waited for his turn to race with Chris and Tonka pulling him. Some people wondered how we trained Winter to ride so quietly in the sled. It never occurred to anyone that Winter was paralyzed as they saw only a handsome Berner calmly riding in the back of the sled pulled to the finish line as his friends cheered him on. It was easy to see that Winter was loving the attention as people came over to pet him and hear his story. Degenerative myleopathy had robbed him of the use of his legs, but not of his spirit and enjoyment of life. After the race Tonka took a turn pulling Winter around in the sled just two Berner boys having fun in the snow! It was a great day just what I wished for a chance for Winter to be part of the party just as he had been in all the years past.
After a long weekend of skiing, playing in the snow with the dogs and spending time friends, we headed back to the city with happy tired dogs. Our drive home was on the epic side as we spent several hours stuck in a snowstorm waiting for the mountain passes to open. Once we were back home I thought Winter seemed unusually tired his head was down and he didnt want to eat much, and he wasnt singing his woo-woo song to me. I was sure he would rally just as he always had in the past, but this time I was wrong.
My last wish for Winter was to know when it was time to say goodbye and that wish, too, was granted. As much as I didnt want to admit it, the sands in the hourglass had finally trickled out. He told me with his eyes and with his silence that we had done everything there was to do we had packed a whole lot of life into our 12 ½ years together, left no stone unturned and what a great adventure it was from start to finish. We said goodbye today with Winters last gift to participate in the DM study. His body slipped away no use to him anymore- and his spirit came to rest in my heart where it can stay forever. Somewhere over the Bridge ZenMaster Max was waiting for him and they have gone to play in the snow that never melts, having that final Adventure that never ends.
In Celebration of a Life Well-Lived A Life Full of Adventures with Love to my Winter-Boy
Am/Can CH Ebnets Kold Mazama Winter CDX OAP OJP NA NAJ DD BNDD/Can CD DD AGNS AGNJS
Always in my heart -- Ruth Nielsen, Seattle,WA
The Adventure of Growing Old...(with memories of ZenMaster Max)
This is a story of growing old with a Berner and the unexpected joy that can be found with a partner in the twilight of life.
My Winter-boy has been a great teacher for me. Winter was pick of the litter, a conformation puppy who earned his championships easily. But I wanted a performance dog, while Winter was soft and insecure not the ideal temperament for a competitor. I thought about giving up on his performance career more than once, but Winter taught me to be patient, to be positive, and to celebrate achievements that were perhaps not so impressive on paper, but represented a huge effort and achievement for Winter. Neither obedience nor agility came easily for him, but he competed successfully in both because I asked him to, and accomplished even more than I expected.
The one place that Winter truly seemed at home was in the mountains. Spending time in the wilderness is important to me, and my dogs have been out in the mountains from their early days as puppies. He accompanied me on many week -long backpacking and winter ski camping trips, climbing peaks like a goat and following us to whatever wild secret spots we chose to explore.
This past year as Winter reached a decade and is now almost 11 years old, I found myself on a new path as Winter's age brought with it the ravages of degenerative myelopathy (DM). I have lost dogs to cancer, and I know the pain of illness and chemotherapy that comes with various forms of that deadly disease. But DM is a trickster that takes a healthy dog and destroys his body gradually yet relentlessly as the dogs nervous system deteriorates, and the rear end becomes weaker and weaker until the dog is no longer able to stand and walk on four legs. But Winters inner toughness surprised me once again. When I first thought about leaving him home as I started out to ski with the other dogs, Winters plaintive cries persuaded me to take him along. He was not about to be left behind, and I was far happier to take him with me and perhaps go for a shorter ski trip just so he could come along. Winter quickly learned how to get up after falling by using his better rear leg to support himself, and he never stopped as we skied along familiar trails. But sadly by the end of ski season, Winters disease had robbed him of both rear legs, and he could no longer walk or even stand on his own. I had heard about dogs being fitted with wheels to use for the rear end for both support and mobility, and I decided it was worth a try. A company that had been making canine mobility wheels for almost 40 years was just half a day away, and I drove there with Winter one day in March to see what they could do for us.
In just a few hours Winter was fitted with a set of bright red wheels in a light weight aluminum frame and harness that supported his lower body. I thought about all the struggles Winter and I had with carting, and I wasnt sure what he would think of his new red wheels. Although the wheels made it possible for Winter to be mobile, he was very serious when I put him in wheels and harness. He had the same determined look he would get when we went carting -- this was a job, and he would do it because I had asked him to, but there was no joy in using wheels as a substitute for his own rear legs. We used the wheels to allow Winter to continue his routine of walking half a mile to work with me - but it was not a happy journey.
I put Winter in his wheels and started down a favorite trail to the river near our house. His serious expression remained at first as mountain bikers and hikers passed us on the trail and asked about Winters wheels. But finally we reached the river, and our other dogs Tonka and Brook the Newfie ran down the bank to play in the water. Winter followed cautiously behind his doggie housemates as the fat wheels were like the wheels of a mountain bike and traversed the river bank with ease. As Winter wheeled himself into the shallows of the river to drink, I saw his whole expression change from one of serious determination, to one of joyful celebration. Winter suddenly realized that the wheels were not a job they were wheels that would take him where he wanted to go to the river, to the mountains, along the paths he had always loved to travel. He threw back his head and started to bark with excitement, shouting his joy at just being out in the world. I was amazed at the transformation - the red wheels were truly his legs now and he was ready to go where ever the wheels would take him.
We hiked with our packs along a gradual trail to a lake about a 2 ½ mile hike. Everyone wanted to stop and pet Winter and ask about his wheels, and Winter was proud to have the attention and wheeled himself over to say hi to the people who admired him. At one point a huge downed tree blocked the trail, and while the other dogs jumped over the tree, my husband Chris and our friends simply lifted Winter -- wheels and all and carried him over the log.
The last part of the trail was covered in snow, and Chris had to help Winter as the wheels got stuck in the snow. But with assistance from Chris, Winter successfully made it to the spot we planned to camp near the still-frozen lake with snow all around us. I took Winter out of the wheels and harness, and he collapsed on the snow to sleep soundly while we put up our tent, made a fire and cooked dinner under the stars. Brook, Tonka and Oso played in the snow while Winter slept, and when we finally decided it was time to go to sleep in the tent, I thought Winter would be just fine as he continued to sleep outside under the stars. But before I could get in the tent myself, Winter had pulled himself across the snow with his two good front legs to get in the tent -- he would not be left out! I helped him in the tent and he curled up in his accustomed spot in the tent - asleep at my feet.
I thought more than once how incredibly grateful I was to have spent the time with Winter to keep him carting in spite of his fears. Now -- when his life literally depended on it -- he was able to wheel himself to the wilderness and the joy of adventure we had always shared could continue.
I know that his love of life and true toughness of spirit has been a more wonderful gift than I could have dreamed of. I hope Winters wheels continue to roll whereever our hearts desire. This adventure is a new one, and Im deeply grateful for the journey.
Cheers from Ruth Nielsen and the Berner boys in Seattle and Mazama, too --
May 5th 2010 - Winter has been wheeling for over a year now, and his wheels have taken him hiking, backpacking, exploring rivers and streams and over snowy ski trails during the coldest part of the year. We even substituted skis for wheels one weekend in February so Winter could participate as a "Paralympic Pooch" in a Nordic Ski race called the Doggie Dash. Winter was the only dog with skis and he made quite an impression as he "skied" his way to the finish line as the sole "paralympic" entry in the race!
Two weeks ago Winter had a completely different adventure as I decided to take him along when I took our other dogs to a Berner fun day of herding sponsored by the BMDC of Greater Seattle. "Herding Day" is a regular event for the club where everyone has a chance to introduce their Berners to sheep at a local facility called, appropriately enough, "Ewetopia." The Berners all enjoy the sheep at different levels of excitement and instinct, and the owners all enjoy a day of socializing and Berner antics.
My plan was to see what Berner boy Tonka and Brook the Newfie girl thought about sheep - and let Winter just hang out and hopefully get some petting time. Winter did a bit of wheeling around when we first got to Ewetopia, and then I took his wheels off so he could lie down and relax while I watched other dogs do their thing and visited with my friends in the club. A man I didn't know came over and started petting Winter, and then commented, "Some people don't seem to know when it's time to say goodbye to their dogs because the dog is obviously in pain." I waited to see where this comment was going, wondering if the man was critical of my choice to bring Winter and let him "hang out" with the "normal" dogs. But he continued."This dog is obviously still very happy and enjoying life. I saw you out there with him in his wheels and I think that's great you are getting him out and letting him have fun." I smiled and thanked the man for petting Winter and giving him some attention, not realizing at the time that this was Joe, the owner of Ewetopia.
Winter continued to enjoy lots of attention as different people came over and sat with him and petted him throughout the day. He was like a king on a throne, relaxing and waiting for his subjects to pay tribute. I took my turn in the sheep pen with both Tonka and Brook - and thought about how Winter had, many years earlier as a much younger dog, enjoyed his own opportunity to show the sheep who was boss. I wondered if they would let me take Winter out in the sheep pen in his wheels, but then decided it was too much to ask. After all - he was hardly going to do any "herding" on only two legs and he would just be taking a turn that could be used by some other dog.
As I waited towards the end of the day to let Tonka have a second round with the sheep, Joe the owner came over to me and said, "if you're still going to be here when everyone else has finished their runs, why don't you put your other dog in his wheels and let him have a turn with the sheep -- it's on the house." I almost cried when he said that - and told him I would love to have Winter take a turn with the sheep. Joe smiled and said, "you have to let them to what they love, and he'll have a great time out there." I finished up with Tonka and put Winter in his wheels, and into the sheep pen we went.
Winter was very excited to be in the pen, but pen was muddy and lumpy and "wheeling" around was a challenge. Becky was the sheepherder working the sheep in the pen, and she watched Winter as he rolled after the sheep as best he could. She could see the sheep weren't waiting around for him, so Becky grabbed one of the sheep - and these were BIG sheep -, and wrestled with the sheep to hold it still so Winter could catch up. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry - it was "sheep wrestling" and "doggie motocross" rolled into one. Becky would wrestle with the sheep, hold it still, and Winter would roll up and give the sheep a big sniff and nose butt until the sheep wriggled free, and then he would wheel after it. Becky would catch her breath, then catch the sheep, and they'd do it all over again. Winter had just as much fun as the youngsters, wheels and all, and I could tell that he was proud and happy to be out in the ring. I thanked Joe and Becky again -- and Joe's parting words to me were -- "When you come back, just remind me and we'll let him go out with the sheep again. It's on me. It's great to see him out there."
I drove home with my exhausted crew, feeling wonderful from a great day with the dogs, and somewhat in a daze from the generosity of Joe and Becky and their willingness to share the fun with a disabled dog. I watched a happily-tired Winter fall asleep that night, sure there was a new meaning to "counting sheep" in his dreams.
Cheers to my Winter-boy and his red wheels who has exceeded anything I imagined he could do. He's going on 12 and the sands in his hourglass are running low, but we are making every grain of sand count.
Ruth Nielsen and the Berner boys Winter and Tonka in Seattle, WA
(and the Newfie Girl Brook -my husband's dog!)
May 6th 2010 - After sharing my Wheel-boy Winter's most recent adventures herding sheep with his red wheels, I realize that I didn't do justice to his earlier adventure in February this year as a "Paralympic Pooch"! At our mountain place in Mazama, WA, there are Nordic ski races that attract some of the best skiers in the country. This year - with the Winter Olympics taking place just to the north in Vancouver BC, some of the local Nordic ski races in Mazama had an "Olympic" Theme. One of the ski races that is just for fun is an event called the Doggie Dash. True to its name, in the Doggie Dash the skiers race with their dogs in tow. The dog has to be on a leash, and the skier can race either classic style (traditional cross country skiing) or skating, which is what most Nordic ski racers do since it is much faster. The racers are also encouraged to wear costumes, so the event is quite comic with both skiers and dogs in costumes that are amazingly creative.
There are dogs of all sizes and skiers of varying abilities. Some of the skiers are very good and the dog is just along for the ride. Of course, you never know which dogs are going to get tangled up with each other or decide to go visit the crowd, so often the skier's best efforts to race are derailed by a dog going sideways or deciding they have run far enough, or costumes falling off along the way. The teams race in groups of four and the winners of each "heat" advance to the finals. More important than the fastest team on the ski track is the Best Costume - the team that wins Best Costume gets the "Best In Show" trophy - a life size statue of a Golden Poodle - it's quite an honor! Costumes have included things like a skier dressed as Little Red Riding Hood with her dog dressed as the Wolf, a skier and canine companion in dinosaur outfits, a skier dressed as Michael Jackson, a skier in a full length mink coat with matching hat and jewelry, and a male skier dressed in drag as a little old lady with his toy dog dressed like a purse! Watching people ski in these costumes is much like watching Team Obedience at the Specialty - you can't stop laughing!
Winter and I did the Doggie Dash once 5 years ago, and much to my surprise - we got Best In Show for the Best Costume and won the Golden Poodle! I can't begin to describe the costume we wore - it was a collection of multi-colored garments and we were known as "Winter's Rainbow." We actually did rather well in the racing part, too - and advanced to the semi-final round. Winter had a great time pulling me around the race course while I skied as fast as I could -and we would have done better if we hadn't gotten tangled up with Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
This year I decided to let Berner boy Tonka have a try at the Doggie Dash. We have friends with a big Berner boy named Oso, and a 9 year old daughter Marina. Marina's dad Hector - in keeping with the Olympic theme - built a chariot out of a sled so that Oso and Tonka could pull Marina in the chariot/sled - we called it "Chariot of Fur"! I felt bad that Winter couldn't participate again, but then my hubbie Chris had the inspired thought of having Winter in the race as a "Paralympic" entry!
Chris took Winter's wheels, removed the wheels, and fitted the red aluminum frame with pieces from an old pair of cross country skis. This was a manly project involving a lot of sawing, hammering, screws and duct tape - but in the end Winter's red wheels had turned into a pair of doggie skis! I made a couple of signs to go on the red frame identifying Winter as a "Paralympic Pooch" with a brief explanation of his condition so people would know why he was paralyazed.
The day of the race we headed off to the ski track where all the other Doggie Dash participants were gathering. Much to my dismay, Chris realized that he had forgotten the tools to assemble Winter's skis! He drove back to our cabin in a rush while I waited on the sidelines of the ski race track with Winter in harness. Tonka and Oso got hitched up to their Chariot, and bravely pulled Marina around the race track while Hector skied in front with a trumpet heralding their arrival. We watched the other teams dressed as dinosaurs, bananas, lounge singers, and other imaginative entries as they took their turns around the track. Finally Chris arrived with the right tools for the job, Winter's skis were assembled, and he had his own moment in the spotlight as the sole "Paralympic" entry in the Doggie Dash! We knew that it would be too much to ask for Winter to "ski" the entire track, so we just had him do the home stretch of the race in front of the crowd so he could show off his skis. The skis worked remarkably well in the snow in place of the wheels, and Winter was happy to trot along with his newly outfitted rig. Chris skied along with Winter as Winter showed off much like he used to do in the conformation ring. Everyone clapped and Winter was totally proud of himself - as he should be! He knows when the applause is for him!
It was another great day for Winter, enjoying himself doing something he loves with the people who love him. Not too many dogs have their own skis - but what could be more appropriate for a dog named "Winter"?
Cheers from us - Ruth and Winter - still hoping for more adventures, and Tonka too (of course!).
I have SO many photos of things that Winter has done with his wheels backpacking, skiing, hiking, rolling along snowy trails and through fields, wading into rivers just about everything that our four legged dogs are doing, Winter is doing with us, too!
August 10th 2010 -Continuing Winter's Adventures on Wheels - Winter is just weeks away from his 12th Birthday, he continues to amaze me with his strength of spirit and enjoyment of life. Winter successfully used his two red wheels for 16 months to go hiking, backpacking, skiing, herding and generally keep up with his four- pawed housemates. But as the symptoms of DM continue to progress, Winter finally lost the muscle power to motor himself around on the red wheels.
I wasn't sure what we could do next - was this the end of his mobility? I called K9Carts, the company that made his red wheels, and asked if there was such a thing as a 4-wheeled version of a cart for dogs. Winter needed more support to be upright, and I knew if we couldn't find some other way to give his body support to stand, then he would be forced to spend all his time just lying down, unable to move on his own. The very helpful folks at K9Carts said there was indeed a 4-wheeled cart for dogs who could not stand on their own, so Winter and I made the trip to get him fitted for a new set of wheels. The 4-wheeled version solved one problem, since it provided support to keep Winter's entire body upright. But Winter was not strong enough to propel himself forward in his new rig, so I figured it would now be my job to pull him on our walks.
After pulling Winter around our neighborhood a few times, I could see that his new 4-wheel drive gave him a chance to get up and moving, as he was still able to move his front legs along while I pulled him. It was good to be able to take Winter out for "walks", but I kept thinking I was missing something.
Then I suddenly realized what I was missing. My Berners are PULLING dogs - that's what they were bred to do, after all! Why was I the one pulling Winter around on his wheels? I have Tonka, my wonderful Master Draft Dog, who is fully capable of pulling a heavy load in his cart with a happily wagging tail. Tonka should be the one pulling Winter around on his wheels, not me! It didn't take me long to get Tonka harnessed up and figure out a way to attach Winter's wheels so that Tonka could do the pulling. VOILA! The perfect solution! Now Tonka could be useful, proudly pulling his Senior Housemate along so we could all go on our walks together.
Now Tonka, Winter and I go on our evening walks together along the lakeside path near my office. I walk with Tonka at my side pulling happily with his busy wagging tail, and Winter walking in step behind us, moving his front paws in rhythm as the wheels roll along. It's Winter's new rig - 4PAW Drive with Tonka Power! The joggers, bikers, and dog walkers smile and often stop to talk and ask about the 4PAW Drive set-up. Tonka and Winter are always willing to pose for photos, and eager to be petted by passersby.
Aug. 21st - A couple of weeks ago I posted about the latest adventures of my Winter-boy who is dealing with Degenerative Myleopathy. As his body has continued to deteriorate, Winter is now using a 4 wheel set up to give him complete support. My last post was about Winter being pulled along by Berner housemate Tonka in his new 4Paw Drive rig. Amazingly enough, after several weeks of being pulled by Tonka (or occasionally being pulled by my husband Chris--) Winter has now developed enough strength/reach & drive to actually self-propel in the 4Wheel rig!
When I first put Winter in the 4Wheel rig he wasn't strong enough to move himself forward, and that's why we came up with the concept of having Tonka pull him. Our walks with Tonka have gotten longer and longer, and since Tonka moves at a pretty brisk pace, Winter has to move his front legs at a "trot" to keep up with the momentum. I've been out of town for work so Chris has been taking Winter out on his walks -- and he realized that Winter was doing more of the work all by himself. I was able to take Winter out on a walk last night and see for myself. Tonka pulled Winter on the first part of our walk for about half a mile or so on the lakeside path by my office, then we turned around to head back home. When we got closer to my office, I unhitched Tonka and encouraged Winter to move forward on his own. Wow! As long as we weren't heading uphill, Winter was able to pull himself along without help using his two front legs. I had the leash attached to his wheels so if he needed a boost I could give him a pull, but for the most part he was self-propelled. I had no idea he would actually be able to get stronger instead of just continuing to deteriorate. When we were almost back to the car, some bicyclists on the trail stopped to let us go by. The guy said looking at Winter - "That dog is so cool! He's a soldier!" It was a perfect description of Winter with his head down, pulling himself along on four wheels with just his two front legs. He's a soldier indeed - much tougher than I ever imagined, and he continues to amaze me.
Just had to share this latest development. Go Winter!
These are the evenings of what is left of our time together. I don't know how many more walks we will have, but I'm grateful that Winter is still smiling and the wheels are still rolling. It's been an amazing journey.
Happy 12th Birthday Winter!
Sept. 8th - Now Winter has reached another milestone - celebrating his 12th Birthday! Winter's greatest gift has been to show me that strength comes in many packages, and that toughness and heart are qualities that can't be measured. I never dreamed I would be celebrating this birthday with him - happily sharing the little joys of a walk together and snuggling side by side. The strength that took Winter to the top of many peaks has carried him to this birthday - a marvelous gift indeed.
HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY WINTER -- thank you for sharing the adventure with me!
Huge Cheers to my Winter-Boy!
Am/Can CH Ebnet's Kold Mazama Winter CDX OAP NA OJP NAJ DD BNDD/ Can CD DD AGNS AGNJS
Ruth Nielsen with 12 yr old Winter and 7 yr old Tonka
4PAW Drive with Tonka Power - Teamwork in Motion!
New Snow for the Winter-boy
December 6th 2010 - Sharing the twilight years with a 12 year old Berner - especially one with DM - has changed my perspective on what I hope and wish for. In Winter's younger years I planned for the shows we would enter, the mountains we would climb, the adventures we would be having in six months or a year or at some unknown future date. Now I think of - what about next week, two days from now.tomorrow.I never know how many days or hours we will share. My dreams and hopes are different in scope, but no less precious.
I dreamed and hoped that Winter would reach his 12th birthday in September - and indeed he did, with great style! Then I dreamed and hoped that he would be with me on my birthday in November - and he was there to celebrate with me. We took a lovely evening stroll together, Winter wheeling along with me on his 4Wheel rig pulled by Tonka with late autumn sun filtered through gold leaves, a perfect birthday gift.
Then I dreamed - and hoped against hope - that Winter would be able to enjoy the snow again. "Winter-boy" is named after his favorite time of year as he has always loved to be in the snow, rolling in it, sleeping in it, trotting through the snow by my side as I skied - first on four good legs, and then on two wheels. As the fall leaves vanished and the darkness fell earlier and earlier each day, I wondered if it would snow soon enough for Winter to enjoy the snow fall once again.
The weather gods answered my dreams with snowfall at Thanksgiving - perfect timing to have the dogs out in the white wonderland while we celebrated Thanksgiving at our house in the mountains in Mazama. We were blessed with new snow falling in the night so we could wake to the fluffy crisp crystals each morning. I didn't know how well Winter's 4Wheel rig would work in the snow, but we hitched him up to go for a roll and see how he would do. His front legs are getting weaker, and it seemed that although the wheels worked better on snow that had been packed down or roads that were plowed, it was harder for Winter to get traction on the slick surfaces. So we tried the wheels in new snow, and Winter found his stride as he proudly pushed his front legs through the fresh untracked powder. It was another hope and dream come true for me, to see Winter in his element again. "Dashing through the snow" became "rolling through the snow" and Winter rolled his way on the paths where he had left paw prints so many times before. It was a Happy Thanksgiving indeed -and a snowy wish granted for the Winter-boy.
My Winter-boy has left his mark on another season and given me the joy of sharing snowfall with him once again - another dream come true.
With wishes to all for Dreams come true in the Holiday season -
Ruth Nielsen and the Winter-boy - and Tonka, too - enjoying snow in the mountains in Mazama
For Tonka's Page on the Friends Gallery
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