A Tribute to Coda and her Wonderful Life

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This is without doubt the most difficult post we’ve ever had to write. We’ve always been aware that this blog and the journey we’ve undertaken is not simply one of travel and adventure, but an inner journey toward more growth, joy, self awareness and letting go. While we have been tested in all these areas over the past five months, none have tested our inner strength as much as the events of this past week – when we experienced the saddest and most painful loss of all.

On Saturday, November 15, 2014, we said goodbye to our dear, sweet labradoodle Coda, shortly after we learned that she had advanced lung cancer. With her health in rapid decline, we were advised she was in the final stages (days) of her journey. Shocked and utterly heartbroken, we absorbed the enormity of this situation, while trying to come to terms with the imminent decision that was the most humane for her, yet most heart-breaking for us.

After lengthy discussions with the vet, we took Coda home with us to share what would be our final night together. Many tears were shed, much love and many hugs were lavished upon her and one other, and sleep was almost non-existent, for us at least. For those of you who have also lost and grieved the loss of a loved one – whether a pet, family member or friend – we know you will relate to the overwhelming pain and sadness we felt. It was as though our hearts were being torn right out of our chests, as we grieved for our inevitable, pending loss. As a child-free couple, we often referred to Coda as our “baby” and while we always knew this day would eventually come, we had not expected it to come quite soon. It was a poignant reminder of why we decided to commence our RV adventure in June – none of us ever really know how many tomorrows we have left.

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While we are grateful for the many wonderful years we shared with Coda, we are especially grateful that we had the opportunity to process such a big decision and our emotions over the course of a couple of days, instead of losing her immediately. Being able to spend quality time with Coda not only during our travels, but in her final days was a gift that allowed us to be even more fully present, focus on enjoying our time with her and let her go before she became even more visibly distressed.

During this past week as we grieved, we also remembered and reflected upon our happy times with Coda – there were so many – and these brought us great comfort as we recalled our stories and memories of her 9 years and four months.

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Marc: Though she loved us both, Coda was always daddy’s girl. When I brought her home from Nebraska to Colorado in the fall of 2005, she was just a 7 week old puppy. In Colorado, the law states that pups must be 8 weeks old before leaving their mother, in Nebraska it’s 7 weeks. Apparently it’s between week 7 and 8 of a dog’s life that they begin to form an emotional bond with their ‘parent’ and that is when the deep bond between Coda and I began.

Julie: Marc was the best doggy daddy Coda could have ever dreamed of. He was completely and utterly devoted to this adorable little ball of fluff – quite literally his “fur-child”. Marc shared many stories of the sleepless nights he spent on the bathroom floor soothing her, training her, and loving her into the amazing dog that she was. Gentle, affectionate, loving, youthful and patient, it is my belief that pets often embody the traits exhibited by their owners, and Marc certainly embodies all of these wonderful qualities as well. Their mutual adoration was obvious to anyone who saw them together – whether in person or photographs.

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Marc: Coda was a dog loved by many who were blessed to have known her. She enjoyed regular, long daily walks around our Bradburn neighborhood with me every morning, noon and night. She loved playing with other dog pals in the hood and at the dog park until she was about 3, when she made it clear that she really just preferred to be alone with me and her tennis ball.

Julie: Oh, how Coda loved that tennis ball and her chuck-it! Marc (and sometimes I) would throw the ball for her and she’d go racing after it, leaping gracefully to catch it mid-air, with such agility, focus and depth of perception. She also loved the Colorado snow and would roll around in it, bury her face in it, never seeming to mind it’s cold wetness one little bit.

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Marc: When Julie came into our lives in August 2010, Coda took an immediate liking to her. Naturally, it was important my baby approved of the woman I was already planning to spend the rest of my life with – and approve she did, plastering Julie’s face with loads of loving licks upon their first meeting. However, when Julie moved into the townhome Coda became quite territorial, chewing on and swallowing her underwear and socks! Thank goodness she grew out of that phase, I was always worried one of those episodes would end in surgery!

Julie: Coda seemed to have a knack for sitting, laying or sleeping in the most bizarre positions, almost always different and always entertaining. I became a little obsessed with photographing her in these weird and wonderful positions and naming each one, which inspired me to create her own Coda Sutra Facebook Page. While I haven’t updated that page for a while, I never stopped photographing her. Posting those images on her Facebook page kept me sane during a particularly challenging time at work. My lunchtime Coda Sutra posts became a welcome distraction from the office craziness and instead, allowed me to lose myself, as I created fun captions to accompany her latest nutty pose.

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Marc: As a puppy, I taught Coda how to play Hide-and-Seek. It was a scene of regular entertainment at our house – one of us would go hide and the other would say to Coda (depending on who was doing the hiding) “Where is she? Where’s your Mumma?” or “Where is he? Where’s your Daddy?”. Coda would excitedly bounce around the house, going in and out of every room, trying to sniff us out, and get SO excited when she finally found us.

Julie: Coda was very much a home-dog, attached to her master Marc, above all, with me running a distant second. In 2013, when both of our work situations changed to allow us to work from home, Coda couldn’t have been happier. Now, she could lay adoringly at dad’s feet all day every day, instead of just in the evenings when he got home.

Marc: At her heaviest, Coda weighed about 65 pounds, but mostly averaged 55 pounds, so she was a fairly big dog. Somewhere along the way, she forgot she wasn’t a little puppy anymore, as she took every opportunity to jump up and lay in my lap (or Julie’s) for extra closeness and snuggles. It was this habit, coupled with her need to be as close as possible at all times, that inspired us to coin her very apt nickname: Coda-Pendant.

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Always focused on her needs, Coda was a major factor in most of our decision making, whether it was going out for dinner (dog-friendly restaurants), taking a hike (dog-friendly trails) and even the kind of car we bought. One of the main reasons we bought the MINI was it had a backseat for Coda (unlike the Miata) while allowing us to enjoy the fun of a sporty convertible. When we began exploring the possibility of more future travel, we ruled out extended international trips as we felt it was important for us to spend whatever remaining time we had with Coda. In fact, Coda is one of the main reasons we embarked on this RV adventure this year – it provided the opportunity for us to travel and explore while we worked, enjoying adventures together.

And enjoy these adventures she did! As difficult as it has been compiling this video slideshow to celebrate Coda’s life this past week, it has been very cathartic for us both as it reminded us of what a big, fun time she had during our travels. Coda’s last five months were so full of fun, adventure, joy and exploration – it’s comforting for us to know we enjoyed so much engagement and presence with her, along with countless wonderful memories and photos.

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Some of our favorites memories with Coda over these past 5 months include:

  • Witnessing the joy of her first visit to the beach and swimming at Lake Tahoe, California
  • Being towed like a queen in her “chariot” behind our tandem bike everywhere, especially our big day out in Long Beach, Washington
  • Hiking in the woods and sniffing out new scents and critters everywhere, in particular, the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon
  • Sitting up with her face in the wind, checking out the scenery as we zoomed around top down in the MINI along Highway 1 to Big Sur, California
  • Posing for photos by beautiful Crater Lake in Oregon, including the gorgeous shot of her and Marc that won an Instagram contest
  • Chasing after and leaping to catch her tennis ball on many beaches along the Oregon Coast
  • Running at sunset with Dad toward Julie with a big happy grin on her face, at the beach in Pacific City, Oregon
  • Laughing, loving and licking us while taking family photos at Mt Rainier, Washington
  • Enjoying love, attention and treats from all who met her while we were out walking, and being stopped in the street several times at the dog-loving town Carmel-by-the-Sea.

More than anything, it seemed that the sight, sound and smell of the ocean brought Coda endless joy. It seemed to mesmerize her, as you will see from the photos and video slideshow.

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Our last night together

On our last night with Coda, we took her for a walk along Lover’s Point in Monterey, CA and captured some final family photos by the rocks and ocean. As we sat together and cuddled one another, with tears streaming down our faces, we couldn’t help but smile at her happiness being by the ocean and feel our deep love for her mixed in with deep sadness and pain. That night, Coda slept on our bed for the first and only time, so we could hold her close and monitor her breathing. In the morning, we knew it was time to take her to the beach and give her the best last morning we possibly could, doing what she loved most – playing with her tennis ball by the ocean, being close to us, and gobbling up handfuls of rotisserie chicken, sliced turkey and treats.•-DSC_0091_MarcJulieCoda_Monterey_rfw

Yes, it has been an incredibly most heart wrenching week, but we are now through the worst of it. Time and happy memories and wonderful healers – and with such an abundance of special memories to bring us solace, it’s now just going to take some time to adjust to life without her physical presence. A quiet, gentle and peaceful dog, her loving presence was very much deeply felt in hearts and our home.

Our hearts are still broken and physically ache as they probably will do for some time, but by extending our stay in Monterey an extra week, we have had some time to be gentle with ourselves and start the healing process, before continuing our journey down south.

Thank You

Whether you knew Coda and us personally, through this blog, or via social media through the many photos posted of her, we know this news will touch many of you. It was hard not to fall in love with such a special, soulful creature. So many people have shared how they enjoy seeing photos of Coda in our blog and social media posts. With so many posts and photos yet to be shared, there will still be more images of Coda to come, as we continue sharing stories of past adventures, as yet untold. In some ways, it will be a reminder that she is – and always will be – with us on our journey, both in heart and in spirit.

Last weekend we shared the sad news in an email and Facebook announcement among our immediate circle, and we have been overwhelmed by so many messages of support from family and friends, sending their love, thoughts and expressing their sorrow at our loss. We are so very grateful to everyone who has emailed, texted, posted or called us with such heartfelt messages. Marc rarely gets on Facebook and Julie does almost all of our blog and social media posts, but we have read each and every message together. Many have brought new tears, but all have brought healing. We are touched by how many people have reached out to express their caring and love and feel so blessed to be supported by such an amazing, loving community around the world – in person and online – thank you so very much.

Finally, we are truly blessed to have had the privilege of being pet guardians to such a wonderful, sweet, smart, loving, happy dog. We love you Coda, we miss you, and we will never, ever forget you. With love always, your Daddy and Mumma. xoxo

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Celebrating the Wonderful Life of Coda: 2005 – 2014

We compiled a video slideshow of some of our beloved photos and memories that celebrate Coda’s life – along with the perfect soundtrack from one of our favorite Australian bands OKA – which perfectly sums up her life and our love for her.

Music Credits: One by OKAmusic.com from the album Half Lazy, Half Crazy.

If you have a special memory of Coda or if this post reminded of the loss of your own loved one, please feel free to share it in the comments below. We would love to  hear how you too, have been touched or moved by Coda or this post.

© RVLove.com

41 thoughts on “A Tribute to Coda and her Wonderful Life”

  1. It is with tears in my eyes that I tell you this story…..When I lost my dog Leilani, my heart was destroyed. I was sick at the thought of never seeing her again. In desperation, I went and got the book ” Heaven is Real” (true story about a kid who died and came back)anyway, I flew through the pages reading each word and to see if the kid said he saw animals in Heaven… He talked about amazing colors, etc and finally there it was….he said he saw animals. Whew! I knew I would see that little girl of mine again. I don’t know if you believe in Heaven or not, but for me, it was something to hold onto.

    As your baby has now come full circle….know that Coda’s precious spirit is still with you. Hugs to both of you.

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  2. What a great tribute. We lost our six year old coton to cancer in 2010. She had chemotherapy and ended up living another 10 months after diagnosis. We still miss her.

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  3. What a great tribute to a wonderful dog! Coda was very lucky to have a couple like you to live her life. As I sit here at my desk typing this with a 3 yr old Golden Mix at my feet it’s answered one important question for me. My wife and I have started planning on selling the home, buying a Motorhome (Leaning towards an Alegro 36LA) and becoming full timers as well. That is what brought me to your site along with many other fine sites.
    I have been wondering how confining it would be for our two dogs , a 7 yr old Border Collie and a 3 yr old Golden Mix to live in a Motorhome. Currently they have full access to our house and a large fenced in yard which they enjoy. Watching your video reminded me of how much they enjoyed our hiking trips in the Carolinas and Michigan and how much they love the dog beach here in Florida. I definitely think the benefits of traveling for them far outweigh the smaller home. Thanks for helping me put it in perspective!

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    • Hi Ed, thank you so much for your kind words… Coda was a wonderful dog indeed and we still miss her every day… but are so grateful for the fun memories we shared with her on the road… it was only 5 months but we have never seen her so happy! This brought us a lot of joy… We love that our story has inspired you to hit the road sooner with your Border Collie and Golden Mix. The 36LA is a beautiful coach and a good size. And, you will likely be following the nice weather and so be spending more time outside and exploring in general. Honestly, we have seen people traveling with 2 or 3 dogs or more – big ones too! As long as you all love each other and enjoy one another’s company I don’t think the space will be too much of an issue. You may find the dogs enjoy laying outside under the awning with a leash on many days… although Coda just liked being at Marc’s feet, wherever he was 🙂 That is why we nick-named her Coda-pendant! Coda LOVED being outside so much more, hiking, swimming. she LOVED the beach and ocean and being a Colorado dog all of her life, this was such a job to watch her happiness in the water, the beach was all so new to her. She got to play ball so much more often and with the ever changing scenery she never got bored, we do wonder if at times she got a little sick of walking the same neighborhood streets in her first 8 years… I do agree – the benefits of traveling with them and sharing so many fun outdoor experiences will outweigh the smaller home… dogs probably don’t know any different… it is we human who often “think” we need a lot more space then in actual fact we do.. when your whole world is so big and right outside your door, you don’t even think about the smaller space inside your 4 walls…. and truly the 36LA, with it’s 1.5 bathrooms as well and lovely living space will be a very comfortable coach! Congrats on your decision to move forward and hit the road – it’s a big decision! And one we are confident you will embrace fully, it’s a truly enriching life 🙂

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  4. I just discovered RVLove.com. I have a Goldendoodle and could hardly contain myself over your sweet tribute to you dog. The ending is always inevitable…and never easy. I love you site.
    Valerie

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  5. So sorry to hear of your loss…My wife and I lost our precious baby Kayla (Golden Retriever) in 2008 to cancer…We also have no children so the loss was devastating…One of the main reasons we chose the motor home lifestyle was so Kayla could travel with us…We now have Maddie (Golden Retriever) & Gracie (Westie)…I hope you find another “baby” in the future.

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    • Thank you Charles, and we are so sorry for your loss of baby Kayla too. Goldens are such beautiful dogs, we relate completely, as Coda was also our ‘baby’ us being child-free as well. In fact, we have another similarity in that we were initially considering a European adventure but we decided to motorhome around the USA so we could enjoy our time with Coda, this was even before we learned she had developed cancer… Glad you have found love again with Maddie and Gracie… we have no plans for another ‘baby’ in the near future (because of our international aspirations) but one day…. no idea where or when… but one day 🙂

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  6. I had been reading your blog and watching some of your videos, trying to start early in your journey. I am saddened to read of the loss of your sweet baby. They are always in our hearts, these canine kids. Having lost two Newfoundlands last spring, only 13 days apart, I feel some of your pain acutely. One died of old age, the other of cancer at only 8 years old.

    Hold fast to the memories…memories are yours to keep.

    Safe travels,
    Carolyn in Eastern Canada.

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    • Oh my goodness Carolyn losing two in just 13 days? That is just heart breaking. We are so sorry…we are very grateful for the memories and literally thousands of photos we have of our Coda, some video too…Marc thought I (Julie) was a bit obsessive with taking photos of her, but he sure was glad we had captured so many memories of her after she left us. Thank you for your thoughts and kind words 🙂

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  7. Hi Marc and Julie,

    Boy do I get a kick out of you two. My wife and I are just starting our RV adventure Spring ’16. We have a 10 lb buddy named Bubbles who is a complete part of our life just like Coda was with you. We appreciate your sharing your love and experience with Coda and totally get your grief as we have lost a few of our furry kids.

    If you are ever in the Coeur d’Alene Idaho area, please look us up. We are now members of boondockerswelcome.com out of Post Falls, Idaho.

    All the best to you,

    Daryl and Jolyn

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    • Thank you so much Daryl for your lovely message and thoughts. Yes losing a furry kid is heart breaking for sure. Glad you are also setting off on your own adventure in 2016! We are heading east the second half of this year but definitely want to visit the Coeur d’Alene area and Idaho, Montana, Utah on our next trip back west, so will be sure to reach out and connect and take you up on that boondocking opportunity! We are also members of boondockerswelcome but haven’t actually used it yet as haven’t found a place in locations we’ve traveled/needed a spot. Hopefully one day soon 🙂

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  8. Hi Marc & Julie, my name is John I live in Etobicoke a suburb of Toronto Ontario, Canada. I have just read trough your web site and got blind sided by the news of you baby Coda. My heart goes out to you both. I too owned a golden doodle named Jesse, I was lucky that he lived to the age of 17 1/2 years when I had to make that awful decision. 2 years later had to do the same for our Daisy a Shih Tzu 18 years (we now have a miniature poodle 4 years and another shih Tzu 6 years plus a cat 10 years). I can’t think of life with out a pet at home.
    I will now start to follow your site and hope all goes well for you both. Happy trails.
    Best wishes
    John

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    • Hi John, thank you for your kind words. You were so lucky to have Jesse for 17 1/2 years! Still it doesn’t make the tough decision any easier… Thanks for following us and happy new year!

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  9. Marc and Julie,
    Thanking you for sharing your loss. I was crying when I got to the end of your story. We lost our Gabbie in June 2014. She was 16 years / 7 months (1997 – 2014) and was a Golden Retriever. Gabbie was the daughter of Goldie who liver for 15 years/8 months (1993 – 2009). We were blessed with such great companions for over 21 years. They never met a stranger. I couldn’t of asked for a better sitter for daughter and son. All of camping, hiking and canoeing were such great times. I didn’t get to take Goldie places, but here in Missouri. Gabbie went to Colorado and Outer Banks in NC with our other 2 fur-babies.

    We are planning to go full-timing in April 2016 when I retire and wish I could of been doing what you did with Coda. Everybody tells that I gave the “Girls” a good life, but O do I miss them and will forever.

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    • Hi Roger, thanks so much for your lovely message and for taking the time to write. It is truly touching to know that a ‘stranger’ can read our tribute to Coda and feel the emotion and pain that we felt… I know that sharing such a deeply personal and heart breaking story can be a painful reminder for others like yourself, who have also lost a much loved pet. We are so sorry for your loss of Gabbie in June… wow 16 years and 7 months is amazing, especially for a Golden Retriever! They are such beautiful dogs. Marc had a Golden Retriever called Nugget in his teen years and was heartbroken to lose him too. He didn’t have another dog again for many years until Coda in 2005. We are just so grateful that we got to share such a big fun time together, not only in her 9+ years but especially recently, in what we didn’t even realize would be her last 5 months. How special that you had both Gabbie as daughter and Goldie as mother for over 21 years! They both sound like such loving and protective dogs and obviously very well loved and lucky to grow up with your family. We do know what you mean about giving your girls a good life, as we did with Coda, but they will forever be missed…maybe they are all playing around together now in doggie heaven? Anyway, wishing you all the best with your plan to start full-timing in April 2016 and your retirement. We are sure you’re going to love it! Thanks again for reaching out to share how Coda’s story touched you. It means a lot.

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  10. SOOOOooooooo sweet!! Thank you for sharing your incredible life with such an amazing Soul. I laughed, I cried, I reflected… very powerful! Sending SO much Love and Continued Healing to You Both! xoxo

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  11. I have big tears running down my face as I read this heartfelt entry. The loss of a pet leaves such an empty hole in your heart. May Coda’s journey over the rainbow bridge be as wonderful as her life. Thinking of you and Marc in your time of loss.

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  12. My Dear Friend !!

    This breaks my heart to hear of your loss, tears run down my face and my heart is broken wide open. Just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you both in this very difficult and challenging time. I never got to meet Coda however she seams like the most beautiful soul.. Blessings to her for all the love and good times she shared with this world !!! Sending you both my love from Australia and hope me meet again in some random mountain in some random country. Love ya Mate Rachelle

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    • Dear Rachelle, how wonderful to hear from you! Thank you so much for your heartfelt words and thoughts, it means a lot. I hope we get to meet again at a random mountain sometime soon too. I will be thinking of you when Marc and I return to Sedona in March. Much love to you dear friend. Julie xoxo

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  13. This is heartbreaking to read, I’m so sorry for your loss. Our dogs and cats are very much a part of our family and I dread the day they are no longer with us. I know just what you mean about making decisions around them, too, like the mini with backseat and dinner choices. I hope the video and post were cathartic for you. Safe travels.

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    • Thank you Kerensa, yes the post, video and photos were hard to pull together (emotionally) but it was tremendously cathartic and we are so glad we went through the process to help is heal and now have it to remember her by. Safe travels to you too.

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  14. A wonderfully touching tribute…we wished we could have met her. We admire your strength, you are great models for those of us who surely have these moments ahead of us. Clearly she had such a wonderful life with you two, which is all that any of us can hope for. We wish you peace right now, and it sounds like you have found it!

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    • Thank you so much Robin for your kind words. It has been quite a journey… Our love and gratitude for having Coda in our life and especially for sharing this fun time with her on our travels does bring us peace.. The opportunity to live this life provides so much more presence, time and connection with those we love – what a gift.

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  15. Marc & Julie, it was hard reading form me, so I can only imagine (or maybe not), how this happening affected you.
    Best to both of you & HAPPY TRAVELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Thank you Manuel. Yes it has been a tough week, our toughest ever, but we have wonderful memories and photos to remember her by and a part of her will continue this journey, in our hearts. We are just so grateful to have had so many great times together. Thank you again.

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