UKC

/ Four Legged Friend

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Jonty - on 05 Jul 2018

Looking for a four legged companion to accompany me on the Fells
i have done plenty of research and am not taking the task lightly. I understand there are many considerations and pit falls, but I feel I could benefit from the experience of fellow walkers, as to which breeds are up to the task, I also appreciate that it may end up being a personal choice.TIA

1
Deleted bagger - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Border Collie every time. Mind you it's adviceable to be as fit as your dog.

3
goldmember - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Dalmatian. Fittest dog known to man

geordiepie - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Going through the same process myself at the minute so it'll be interesting to hear what others think. 

I want something medium sized, that won't shed much and can handle long days in the hills. Thinking Airedale Terrier at the minute but that might change. 

skog on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Maybe give this guy a call?

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37443204

He seems to be quite at home in the hills, at least.

Post edited at 19:26
girlymonkey - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Get a mongrel. Strong and healthy.

Better still, get down to your local rescue centre.

Our mutt is about 17kg which is big enough to be a real dog with plenty of stamina, but small enough to share a tent with and carry home if he gets injured.

1
Dave the Rave on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Border Collie every time but I have a soft spot for Border Terriers.

Two very different beasts but are loyal as feck.

The Collie will outwalk you, the terrier too. The Terrier is more packable and takes less room in a tent. Terrier could go in a rucksack if the weather got lairy.

The terrier had worse farts and shared the sleeping bag and bivi bag.

The collies have been better behaved, the Terrier was a right Cnut!

John R - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty: History records that Hannibal favoured an elephant for his Alpine exploits, but it is a much less popular choice these days. On a more serious note we had a Collie which was a superb fell dog, followed by a Bernese Mountain dog and then a Newfoundland, neither of which were! Have fun with your choice, John.

 

Tringa on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Definitely look at good rescue centres rather than breeders.

There is nothing wrong with, probably, most breeders but there are some dodgy ones. From a breeder, even a good one, you will get a pup that you won't be able to take on the hill for a while; overexercising pups is not a good idea at all.

While rescue centres will charge you, it is likely to be less than buying from a breeder. Many years ago there was, I think, a feeling that from a breeder you knew what you were getting whereas you could get a heap of trouble from a rescue centre. Now, I think give that some folks have seen there is money to be made in selling dogs, it could easily be the reverse.

Good centres (eg Dogs Trust or Terrier Rescue) will not con you - they do not want their dogs being brought back, but more than anything else there are unfortunately lots of dogs who really need a good home.

Good points already made about size. A medium sized terrier cross would be good but pretty much anything that isn't too big or too small will probably outwalk you.

Dave

mantelself on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I'd also chime in border collie if one would fit with your life. Super comical but also highly strung. IMO they are best if you can not only keep them physically stimulated but also mentally. If you will be away from home for most of the working day on most days then I don't think they are at all a good fit. An older chilled out rescue might work out though.

mrphilipoldham - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

You can have my Dutch Shepherd if you like. He’ll keep you fit as a fiddle. Knocks out a 10k run as if it was a stroll in the park.

bedspring on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Fell Terrier bought via the Farmers Guardian or a hunting website, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fell_Terrier

Black ones are sold as Patterdales, but look for someone selling as a Fell Terrier, that way you should get working stock. Their Stamina is legendary.

 

2
toad - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I would caution against collies. They can be excellent dogs, but they can also be highly strung, neurotic and bitey. Maybe thats because ive only really known working dogs or ive got a bias to gun dog breeds. I'd have a labby every time, but you want a tall skinny working type, rather than a greedy showdog.

There's a lot of wonderful rescue dogs out there but dont let a rescue centre bully/blackmail you into an inappropriate animal, no matter what the sob story is. 

Fundementally whatever you end up with will be a loveable wonderful companion, but your lifestyle will have to adapt to the dog, not the otherway round

Harry Cook - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

My families had collies since I was a toddler and we've taken them out onto the fells multiple times every year, we currently have a 2 yr old one with her being our fourth and the 8th in the family. There brilliant dogs for taking out into the fells but you've got to be wise in many ways when looking at getting one and then in the period after getting you're new companion. When looking for one don't necessarily go for the one that runs straight to you, take time and get to know them a bit. Once you've decided and have you're new friend home take time and I mean lots of time to train them. They're natural instinct is chase, probably as much if not more than any other breed if you don't correct this young you'll struggle to stop them chasing sheep which as you can imagine farmers hate and even shoot a dog over if its causing enough harm. You want to introduce them to younger kids as well as adults, our current one has an odd streak but since its used to being around people it never shows it out of the house so id have no problem letting a young kid pull and tug at her like they do. As toad suggested they can have an odd/bitey side however if you take you're time to bond and give the dog the time it needs it can be controlled, just takes a lot of effort as does a lot of things when it comes to collies. 

arch - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

A Lurcher. I've hillwalked with my pair. One of them had the prey drive of a starving Lion, so he was on a lead, the other walked through a flock of Sheep without a sideways glance. She is a Collie x Whippet/Greyhound. Perfect for me.

A Bedlington/Whippet would be a good choice. A blue one.

 

But whatever breed you choose, please seriously consider a rescue, plenty of dogs and pups looking for a second chance, and why line the pockets of a breeder ??

OverworkedUnderwalked - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

You will never be able to tire a sprinter spaniel. Have also owned or had the pleasure of walking with Border, Cairn, Patterdales & Lakeland Terriers all make great hill companions - although a cross breed will be healthier than a pedigree.

cander - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

German Shorthaired Pointer - mine make me laugh everyday - they are inexhaustible, very trainable, big plums that they flash at every opportunity and they look like film stars. 

SouthernSteve on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I second the springer spaniel, also Brittany spaniel. Labradors can be fantastic, but very variable. You might get a slow lazy one. Collies are more intelligent than many people on UKC and are often not good family dogs, although the solitary owner will think them great.   Some of the pointer/vizla dogs can be very good in the hills. 

The husky types do a great job in some of the hill races we enter , but they are not to my taste      

 

ballsac - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

the best breed for a day on the hills? German Wirehaired Pointer, or a GWP/Lab cross...

i'm afraid i'd be as wary of rescue/rehoming centres as i would breeders - breeders can be motivated by money, rescue centres can be/probably are motivated by having to get dogs out of the door as quickly as possible, knowing that there are hundreds of dogs in dire need of being taken in. in such circumstances (and i've worked in the field) its easy for a potential home/dog combination that wouldn't be considered to be ideal, or preferable, to become good enough.

be very careful, don't be swayed by the sob-stories, and be aware that for a dog, losing its original family, then going to a centre, then moving to a new family is terrifyingly traumatic. it will probably take time, and not weeks, and it can go very wrong.

personally i'd always opt for working breeds from working stock - a working dog has been bred for temperament, health and trainability, a show lines dog has been bred to match a tick box form thats mainly interested in what it looks like.  i'm a big fan of Labs, the German Pointers, Spinone's, and Vizlas (but only from genuine working stock), Springers are great but they can be annoyingly bouncy, Collies can be fantasticly loyal, intelligent and fun, but they can also be neurotic, bitey and suffer appalling seperation anxiety. the one working breed it wouldn't touch is a Weimaraner - i've been shooting with dogs for 20-odd years, i've met perhaps half-a-dozen who were nice, the rest (hundreds) were big grey bullies. Patterdales and Border Terriers have an enviable reputation as family dogs, but they also can be very independently minded.

the other big piece of advice is to only, only get a dog, regardless of where its from, from someone who puts it in writing that you can bring it back if it doesn't work out.

 

 

overdrawnboy - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Have you considered a sheep? Perhaps a Herdwick

Flinticus - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Collie cross. With a spaniel or lab.

Steve Clark - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

We have a small border collie and she’s lovely. Fine with the kids, she understands the pack order. Excellent to go walking with. Low grade scrambles no bother (jacks rake etc.). I find myself going into the hills more often by myself with the dog.

What I didn’t appreciate is that an active dog  is not really compatible with rock climbing. Easily get bored, noisy, no chance of leaving her off lead whilst climbing and can annoy other folks at the crag. Given the choice in good weather, I’d choose to climb and that feels a bit unfair leaving her at home. 

Anyway, I’m about to move to a small village next to the M6 at J34, just south of the Lakes. After mid-August, any UKCer heading to the lakes who wants to test drive a collie, or just have a top dog for company for the day would be more than welcome to call in and borrow her. It’s basically impossible to wear her out in normal weather.

 

TheDrunkenBakers - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to SouthernSteve:

> Labradors can be fantastic, but very variable. You might get a slow lazy one. 

 

Yep, got one of those. Greedy bugger too. Would eat a scabby horse if allowed.

 

SouthernSteve on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Steve Clark:

> What I didn’t appreciate is that an active dog  is not really compatible with rock climbing. Easily get bored, noisy, no chance of leaving her off lead whilst climbing and can annoy other folks at the crag. Given the choice in good weather, I’d choose to climb and that feels a bit unfair leaving her at home. 

That's a really good point and has definitely changed our activity profile.

marsbar - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Steve Clark:

Mine was a collie cross.  He wasn't taken climbing twice as he got quite vocal at the concept of his human doing something so odd. 

arch - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to ballsac:

 

> the other big piece of advice is to only, only get a dog, regardless of where its from, from someone who puts it in writing that you can bring it back if it doesn't work out.

 

 

A Dog is for life, not just for climbing...............

fmck - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

The thing I like about border terriers is I can carry him in my jacket if need be. Deep snow, extreme weather (caught out once), river crossings, etc. I always have the extendable lead through my rucksack belt as they do like to be terriers with wildlife.

toad - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to fmck:

I may have said this before, but theres a lot to be said for a dog you can just pick up. My retriever is 5 stone and any stile etc he has to negotiate himself. Fine atm, but my very old lab used to be a nightmare for crossing obstacles without a firemans lift....

jkarran - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Rescue mongrel. So long as you don't get a long dog (lazy sleeping machines), a stumpy dog (slow) or one that can't breathe (rubbish) it'll love walking as much as you do.

Don't buy a dog, there are loads of dogs that need homes and they don't need to be perfect to be great.

jk

Ridge - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to jkarran:

I have a lazy sleeping machine (lurcher). He still loves a day on the fells, but if it's bad weather and time for a walk he'll give me the "Just tell her we've been for a walk, she'll never know" look and heads back to bed.

My kind of hound.

Post edited at 12:24
Tringa on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Perhaps we were lucky with our crossed fell terrier we got via Terrier Rescue. The contact and relationship was very matter of fact. We did not get any sob stories.

Although our dog was up for adoption on the TR site he was still living with his first owners who, courageously I think, decided they could not provide him with what he needed, so therefore there wasn't a feeling of being pushed.

However, if the dog had been housed by TR I don't think there would have any 'pushing', quite the opposite. It was, quite rightly I think, TR wanting to be as sure as possible that we were right for the dog. They wanted to know our circumstances, where we lived, what was the access to walking areas, how secure was our garden.

If a rescue centre gives you a sob story (though in fairness ever dog in a centre has a sob story, if they did not, they would not be there) and particularly if you feel there is any pressure to take a particular dog, then just walk away.

I think medium size is probably the way to go. Good point above about terrier prey drive. It is strong and they can be experts in selective hearing. Ours is never off the extender lead as the scent and especially the sight of any mouse, rat, cat, fox and he would be unstoppable.  Oddly enough he is not particularly interested in birds.

Dave

   

Post edited at 12:25
Hamish56 - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Just been through this process, decided Straight Border Collies can be too neurotic and odd at times, Springers possibly too mental, so went for half and half, the calmness of the Collie seems to have balanced out the 'never stop moving' part of the Springer, so she sleeps and lazes about generally in the house.  The friendly 'happy go lucky' part of the Springer has balanced out the neurotic part of the Collie.  So I've a runner who's friendly, not bitey, obedient, chilled in the house and can go all day in the mountains too.  She's turning out to be a total treat. Gets on great with the other dog, cuteness overload sleeping together etc.  Her first two Crag sessions have been great too, loved the walk-in, didn't even glance at the sheep and then slept while I climbed out of sight.  Difficult gully walk out and she made small work of it, agile and brill on her feet.  Could easily lift her over fences etc as she smaller than a Border Collie too, down-sized by the Springer.  Took a year talking to dog owners and it was worth the research. 

Pkrynicki1984 - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Collie cross , I also have a Black lab who can boulder/climb.

Stood up in a break at Burbage once and was surprised to see him along side me

Flinticus - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Steve Clark:

> What I didn’t appreciate is that an active dog  is not really compatible with rock climbing. Easily get bored, noisy, no chance of leaving her off lead whilst climbing and can annoy other folks at the crag. Given the choice in good weather, I’d choose to climb and that feels a bit unfair leaving her at home. 

This effect basically means I cannot go rock climbing (aside from the rare times my dog may be injured). I know my current dog, Kelp, would bark if I undertook such a strange activity! And, as you say, I would consider it unfair to her to leave her at home (unless in day care or if my wife could take her walking (unlikely!), especially as I got her to accompany me and went into this eyes fully open.

Hat Dude on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to bedspring:

> Black ones are sold as Patterdales, but look for someone selling as a Fell Terrier, that way you should get working stock. Their Stamina is legendary.

So is their escapology ;-)

Tringa on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Hat Dude:

> So is their escapology ;-)


And their digging abilities!

 

Dave

marsbar - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Hamish56:

Sounds great.   But how do you know you won’t end up with a neurotic collie but with all the non stop of a springer?  

msp1987 - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

A Cocker Spaniel is a good option. Lovely family dog. Equally happy chilling or getting lots of exercise. Ours has just started hillwalking but she cruised through the 3 munros around Corrour Halt in baking heat the other day. 17 miles and 2000metres of ascent and she could have kept that going! Followed that with two easier munros the next day. Plus they are small enough to sleep in a backpacking tent. Would highly recommend.

Toerag - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

What about a mule? That way it can carry some of your stuff for you. Read the 'seaside donkey' blog for inspiration. Oh, Oh, wait - what about a miniature donkey?!

https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/knowledge-and-advice/about-donkeys/miniature

"According to eighteenth century block pictures, the donkeys were blindfolded and attached to the grain mills and walked in endless circles. They were also used to carry water from village wells and supplies into the mountains for shepherds"

Tom the tall on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:I’ve got a Lakeland trailhound, who is brilliant. She didn’t race very well so ‘retired’ aged 2, and we have had her since. Google hound trailing and trailhound welfare for details, we got ours direct from her owner/trainer, so haven’t been involved with trailhound welfare, which is a rehoming charity.

 

ceri - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to bedspring:

A working terrier for someone who may or may not have had a dog before? Seen several PTS for their killer instinct, most people don't want or cant manage a dog who is bred to independently go out and kill stuff for a living. 

I wouldn't want a border collie, they like to work hard but need quiet to relax and switch off. 

My preference is the small to medium mongrel. A 10 to 15 kg dog can jump stiles but be lifted over stuff or carried when required.  

Chmusar - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I have a border collie came from a farm in north wales , loves multi day hikes , he has done three peaks , the beacons way and some of the south west coast path. 

When wild camping sleeps in porch or try's to take over my exped mat . Collies are very loyal and will go on forever but also happy to just sleep ( mind stimulation is just as important as physical exercise) so you have to make sure you keep them occupied , i trained him with a whistle which helps out on the hills as you don't wont to keep on lead while walking.

Whatever you choose i hope you enjoy the outdoors with him or her.

https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=306696

 

Tringa on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to ceri:

> A working terrier for someone who may or may not have had a dog before? Seen several PTS for their killer instinct, most people don't want or cant manage a dog who is bred to independently go out and kill stuff for a living. 

> I wouldn't want a border collie, they like to work hard but need quiet to relax and switch off. 

> My preference is the small to medium mongrel. A 10 to 15 kg dog can jump stiles but be lifted over stuff or carried when required.  

Fair points, Ceri. The Borders, Lakelands, Patterdales, Fells are strong willed  characters.

 

Dave

 

Wainers44 - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Not really qualified to talk about any other breed than Springers.

After 15 years with the first, 17 with the second, and now 16 months with number 3, a totally biased view is they are the most loyal, loving, soft hearted, but hardy and impossible to tire outdoorsy breed there is. Only downside, they are as mazed as quite a few boxes of frogs!

Stuart en Écosse - on 07 Jul 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

> Have you considered a sheep? Perhaps a Herdwick

Goats are better for scrambling routes up to about VS.

Roadrunner6 - on 07 Jul 2018
In reply to mantelself:

I'd go a collie cross.. slightly less crazy than a full on collie.

I have a lab cross now, great dog, not a great prey drive but water crazy so constantly drenched..

Be careful with border collies, they aren't a weekend dog. Running them for 16 hours a weekend is useless if you expect them to be home bound for 5 days a week. By Monday 4pm they are bouncing off the wall. 

I'd go a rescue but expect a good 6 months of issues. 

nufkin - on 07 Jul 2018
In reply to goldmember:

>  Dalmatian. Fittest dog known to man

Huskies etc?

FactorXXX - on 07 Jul 2018
In reply to goldmember:

> Dalmatian. Fittest dog known to man

Aren't the fittest ones owned by butchers?

goldmember - on 07 Jul 2018
In reply to nufkin:

They're wimps in comparison 

nufkin - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to goldmember:

I was watching 'Happy People' a few days ago - Werner Herzog documenting the lives of Siberian trappers. Not sure what breed of dog they had, or if they'd really be a breed at all, but they're left to run behind the skidoos for scores of kms on the trips to and from the hunting sites, and one of the trappers was discussing the danger of the dogs getting soft if they were allowed to sleep in the cabin. It was -30°C

simonridout - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Does any particular breed appeal more than other breeds to you? I have a Boorder Collie and would not be seen dead with a terrier, others will be the other way round. I will not pretend that my Border Collie has been an easy dog, however he is a loyal companion, even if he does need firm control.  He is slim, but still weighs in at 22kg, on the fells he wears a ruff wear harness, it makes stiles and fences easier. He can manage grade 2 scrambles and on 2-3 occassions has been lowered 5m with a rope to his harness. 

I disagree with those who say that a dog needs X hours of exercise a day, instead it is 7X hours a week, rather like you or me. An old saying about Border Collies is that they need to be employed, or they will go self employed!  When time is short, sessions of obedience or agility work are useful

1
Ghastlyrabbitfat on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I would echo the advice about having a look at rescue dogs, as above, just take your time and get to know the dog a little before committing.  Good centres should allow you to visit and take the dog out on multiple visits so you can see their behaviour in the real world.

Was in a similar situation to you three years ago and wanted a family dog that would also do the hills but be size manageable in a tent.  Chose a staffie cross who has been brilliant in all aspects of daily life and on the hills.  Not the breed you would instantly go to as an outdoor dog but they are intelligent and respond well to training.  He'll do 7 hour hill days but is equally happy doing an hour out then slobbing at home.  Took just a couple of days to train him to ignore sheep and the "path" command to avoid disturbing wildlife when off lead.  (Bought training tape for this but in the end favoured a 15ft length of old climbing rope.)  Expect the commitment to be more than you anticipated but you get plenty back.  (No more just dropping things and heading off: everywhere you go needs to be dog friendly!)  

He's lying on the floor next to me destroying an "indestructible" toy.  

  

fmck - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

In addition to having a dog easy to lift. You can buy a hi-viz bouncy aid for dogs that's basically a warm winter jacket. It comes with a handle on its back that you can carry him like a hand bag very easily. It's supposed to be to make it easy to lift him out of water but mine got used to be lifted over all manner of things.

toad - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to fmck:

I have a float for my dog. I use it less now he's more predictable, but getting a big dog out of (say) a canal is so much easier with a handle

Jamming Dodger on 18 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

Weimaraner!

(I may or may not be biased on that one...)

Not a good crag dog. He has a penchant for stealing strangers’ sandwiches and will bark at anyone within 5 lines of yours. But totally unstoppable in the hills. 

Post edited at 20:59
adrian lyden - on 19 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I have a Chocolate Lab who works on the hills with me. He knows when he is working and is great with the different clients I take, and still yampy and playful when its just the two of us

Lifeismeaningless - on 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I have a failed gun dog labrador and he's tougher than me. Extremely strong and nothing seems to bother him that much. He comes to work with me (forestry based) but also on the bike or walking on the weekends, can be a bit of a pain if I've spent too many days in the office and not taken him out but that is a good prompt for me to get out too!

Can be a handful in a tent, especially if it's wet but he settles down nicely. He's generally a fantastic dog, keen to be outside and has never given up on me even when a friend and I winched him up an icy Cobbler the week after I got him. Once he's tired and back in front of the fire he is extremely affectionate and soft, great with kids and pubs. He'll settle down nicely in the car or on the shore if I'm swimming and can be left at home quite happily without destroying things.

A lot of it comes down to the dog and the owner though, you might find a lab that destroys your house if you leave it alone, or a spaniel that is unmanageably mental. Couldn't recommend a failed gun lab enough though, bit of character but fairly obedient, although you might want to consider how much scrambling your routes have as a 27kg lab is a pain on occasions. One benefit of a gun dog breeder is that they will know the hip scores which can be important for an active dog. Also, fox red is the best colour, gets you lots of attention if you happen to be single... (I am not)

mountainmumoftwo on 05 Aug 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I used to have two working cocker spaniels, excellent hill dogs, and they did a few grade one scrambles too. I'm currently contemplating another as i've looked at other breeds and it's still the cocker spaniel for me. Also depends on the dog, it's breeding, parents etc, some breeds i've looked at would be awful on the hill. But then I could get a spaniel that's awful on the hill too. I used to take mine mountain biking which wore them out a little bit, but not much!

Forester3 - on 05 Aug 2018
In reply to franny:

I’ve had 3 cockers, current one being a working cocker and an excellent hill dog indeed; I did Sharp Edge in full winter conditions once and he followed me up without any problems - in fact I suspect he was having more fun than me - certainly one of my most memorable mountain days! One thing I learned pretty soon after acquiring him was not to under estimate how much exercise this breed requires - it seems when they’re in their prime they’re pretty difficult to wear out.

andymac - on 05 Aug 2018
In reply to Jonty:

I'm getting a Border Collie  pup in the next 10 days.

from the ....Borders

registered ISDS ,which means the 'International Sheep Dog Society'.

she will eventually join me on mountain forays.

cant wait 

 

Post edited at 20:34
Roberttaylor - on 09 Aug 2018
In reply to Jonty:

No dog will ever rival Tschingel.

 

https://www.futilitycloset.com/2012/02/08/alp-pal/


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