Getting a pet - suggestions please?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by genegri, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. genegri

    genegri Active Member

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    My dad lives by himself 6 hours from us. So I am thinking about getting him a pet to keep him company. He has never owned a pet before but we have taken care of pets for short periods of time for friends and neighbors. Cats, rabbits and once a turtle. He has a house with plenty of room, close to parks and walking trails.

    First question is: should I get him a cat or a dog?

    Reasons for :cat: - Dad loves cats and it's easier to care for and cleaner.

    Reasons for :dog: - More affectionate and that's the main reason I am getting a pet for him.

    A few more questions:

    What is the best way to make sure the pet I am getting is healthy? I heard different opinions regarding shelters. Yes or no?

    What kind of pet insurance should I be looking at? A friend says it's a scam and another one says it's absolutely necessary. Any opinions?

    I plan to get the pet spayed or neutered and give all the recommended shots. Any thing specific I need to know regarding these procedures?

    Anything else I need to consider?

    TIA!

    ETA, I have talked to dad and he is open to getting a pet. Just doesn't know where to start.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  2. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    What are your dad's opinions about getting a pet? Does he want one and would he prefer a cat or a dog? That seems to be the most important factor.

    Petfinder is a great resource: http://www.petfinder.com/index.html

    It not only helps you figure out which kind of pet is best for you, but also has information on thousands of pets that are available for adoption. Please don't get a pet from a pet store or puppy mill. Most of the pets that come from shelters come spayed and with all their shots. A reputable shelter won't adopt out a sick pet, but there's no guarantee. Take the pet to the vet as soon as you get it and have a checkup done. The great thing about many of these organizations is that they have a lot of information about the particular pet and know what kind of owner would be a good fit. So, if you want a very affectionate cat that will like spending time with your dad, you should have no problem finding one. Similarly, if you want a mellow dog that will be less work for you dad, you may be able to find one.

    But, if dad wants a cat, you should have no problem finding a good one. He can go to a shelter near where he lives and see which cat he likes and likes him.
     
  3. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Uh...#1, he IS okay with getting a pet, right? Never, EVER give someone a pet as a gift without checking with them first. If he says no, don't get him one no matter how good an idea you think it is. That is how animals end up in shelters.

    Ask him IF he wants a dog or cat. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Friendliness and affection varies by individual--there are cuddly cats and aloof dogs.

    Do not go to a breeder unless you find one who is reputable and breeds show/performance animals (conformation, agility, hunter trials, hunting dogs, working dogs, etc) and NEVER buy from someone who will not allow you on the property, or who doesn't at least have the mother on site and available for you to inspect. Someone who won't allow you to see the dogs before buying or the condition they're in is not a reputable breeder. You are far more likely to get a dog with a health problem buying from a backyard breeder who won't let you see the parents than you are getting one from a shelter or rescue.

    Spay/neutering: can be done much earlier than you think. If your dog or cat is not a show or performance animal, do this as soon as possible. They won't know anything's missing. Vaccines: consult a vet about what is appropriate for your area. Get a good flea/tick treatment and talk to your local vet about heartworm preventatives for dogs (yearly or seasonal, but do it, one way or the other.)

    I have two dogs, three cats, and a horse, and the only thing I've ever considered is mortality/loss of use on the horse. However, I am comfortable with saying "No" to expensive medical treatments even if the alternative is euthanizing the animal. If you think that you or your father could not make that call, and you don't want to be facing thousands in vet bills if something went wrong, insurance might be the best bet.
     
  4. genegri

    genegri Active Member

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    Thanks! And I will read that link in detail.

    To answer both of your question, yes, he is definitely okay with getting a pet. And he says either a cat or a dog or even a bunny is good. However, he can't decide which one is best for him either.
     
  5. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Well, he really needs to be involved in chosing one. How active is he? How old, what physical condition? Is he up to walking a dog at least once a day? How does he feel about cleaning a litterbox? What activity level is he comfortable with? (A HUGE consideration with dog breeds/mixes.)

    I would really not recommend a rabbit. They can make good pets, but they are not especially affectionate, by and large, and they aren't as easy to care for. And some can be crabby.
     
  6. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Bunnies are actually excellent pets. They can be easily be confined to a small area, so they don't shed all over or otherwise muck up your house. They are affectionate to those they know well, generally, and are not that hard to care for at all (especially for those who know how and the OP indicated that her family has had them before). My husband's family has had them for years and we have one now. The two recommendations I would make are to get a boy not a girl and to take care to not set too many routines. Rabbits can be a bit OCD--so if you do things the same way on the same days too much, that becomes their routine and you'd best not change it. The females do tend to be a bit "crankier" and a bit more attached to routines and males are easier.
     
  7. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    Regarding pet insurance: Last year we adopted a German Shepherd from the local Humane Society. We had her for a few weeks, and she got sick. Turns out she had a tumor on her liver. She had come with a free trial period of pet insurance, and they ended up covering all of the vet costs for her exploratory surgery - IIRC it was around $700. So it did work for me, although I haven't bought any for our current pets.

    Don't let this scare you from a shelter/rescue pet, BTW. Almost all of our pets have come from these types of organizations, and Marilee was the first time we ever had a problem worse then kennel cough. I suspect the tumor was of the fast growing type (because she got sick so suddenly and the same thing happened years ago with one of my cats) that the Humane Society would not have seen unless she had gotten sick there.

    Good luck finding a friend for your dad. :)
     
  8. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Dogs are a lot more work than cats. And cats can be incredibly affectionate and loving.
     
  9. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I have a cat and she is very little work. I scoop her litter box regularly which takes all of 2 minutes and change it completely about once a week, that takes all of 5 minutes. Her food and water bowls I just keep from being empty so I fill as needed. That might explain her rather large size. :shuffle: She was some work as a kitten, she needed a lot more attention but I would say her kitten stage still pales in comparison to any dog's puppy stage.

    My boyfriend and I both want a dog but every time I am around someone elses dog, especially a puppy, I remember how thankful I am to not have one. They are NON stop and you have to constantly keep an eye on them when company is around because they will jump on their lap, try to eat their food, run off with their shoes, etc. None of this is a problem with a cat unless your cat is really social, then just maybe the cat might try to get in their lap. Even then, the cat isn't trying to jump up and down and bite their face.

    Basically, a dog is so much work for someone who has never taken care of an animal, it might be a lot more work than they expect. A cat might be a better start OR perhaps adopt a dog who is a little older. This would be really nice for the dog and you would be past that puppy stage.
     
  10. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    If you go visit a good shelter, the animals might make the decision for your dad. Both of my cats pretty much have chosen me. My last cat was incredibly affectionate. The moment I met her, she crawled into my lap and started purring. She was almost too attached to me. She really didn't like it when I was gone at work and she would even follow me into the bathroom -- and one tried following me into the shower. But, if your dad is retired, a cat like that might be perfect.

    And again, a lot of the places on petfinder are wonderful about providing you with information about the pet's personality and needs.
     
  11. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    As one who shares her home with a very affectionate :cat:, I can definitely attest to that. :) I second Allskate's comments about having your dad involved in actually choosing the pet. If he is unsure whether he wants a dog or a cat, a visit to the local shelter (or friends who have one or the other or both) may help him decide. If he visits a shelter, he may be drawn to a particular dog or cat and will have a chance to interact with it to better gauge its temperament and "friendliness". Good luck!

    Allskate: Once again, I agree with your comments! My current cat definitely "chose" me -- she was a stray that I spied while antique hunting. She walked right up to me and purred non-stop -- rode on my lap in the car on the hour-long ride home.
     
  12. Kasey

    Kasey Loving on babies!

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    As a cat person (with one lying on her lap right now), I think the old "Cats are aloof" thing is a wide exaggeration. Especially if you were getting him only one, if it grows up with him and it is him and the cat for company, they can become very affectionate and entwined with their human relationship. They also are less "needy" compared to dogs in terms of having area, walks, the chewing phase (although kitties need to learn what they can claw and what they can't), have a litter box (bunnies can be litter trained as well), quieter so there isn't going to be barking issues, etc.

    I don't have pet insurance for any of mine. Perhaps, if/when I get another baby kitten, I will start them with it. But I've been lucky, I've never had any of my kitties have any major medical issues.

    I think if you go to a reputable shelter, like the Humane Society, you could be pretty ok with getting a healthy pet. They do have vets available on site at a lot of them, and will often make sure the shots are up to date, as well as the pet being spayed/neutered prior to adoption. Adoptions from there may be a little more pricey because of that, but I think the costs all work out.

    Another option is perhaps getting an older animal, perhaps a year old or so, from a shelter. They tend to be calmer, but still make very loving companions, and I think they always have a sense that you have "rescued" them.

    Good luck to you, dad and pet!
     
    IceAlisa and (deleted member) like this.
  13. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    Our local Humane Society has a program where seniors who adopt older animals get a break on the adoption fees and some other perks like two-for-one cat adoptions. I think that senior pets are hard to adopt out, but I would think that they usually come from stable home environments which would make them easier to bring into a new home.

    We inherited my MIL's senior cat when she passed away. Even though we only had him a couple of years, I'm glad that we did.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  14. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

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    I too would suggest an older cat. Cats are far less work. And I think they provide more entertainment just because they are more complex than dogs. Don't flame me, I am a crazy cat lady! My elderly dad would call me every day telling me about the antics of his 2 adopted cats. I'd listnen and laugh but they truly brought him joy in his later years.
     
  15. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    I think your dad's age/activity level and interests are pretty key here. Would he be interested in something that requires him to get out oft he house, give him something to do? Or just a companion? Does he travel much? Even without knowing these things, here are some points:

    Cats: Pro - fairly self-reliant, fairly clean, fairly quiet. Despite the myth of aloofness can be very warm and loving. Con - if they are indoor only (not going to get into that debate), require frequent and consistent litter box changing. Can use furniture to sharpen claws. Shed. Not always friendly. Hairballs.

    Dogs: Pro - generally adore their owners. Like to engage with their people, can promote higher level of activity and/or interaction with others through walking, going to dog parks etc. generally not picky about food. Different breeds have different energy levels/sizes that can match their owners' needs. Con: younger dogs need a LOT of attention and exercise. Higher maintenance (need walks, or at least a yard, can become v. unhappy if their owner doesn't engage with them, bigger need for temprary care when owner is away), higher vet costs. Can destroy furniture and/or items by chewing or scratching. Shed (many breeds). Bark. Slobber.

    Bunnies I'd only recommend for someone who really wants to engage with one. I haven't owned any but had good friends who had them...they are very sweet animals but unless you're prepared to have your doorways chewed on they have to be contained.
     
  16. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

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    Just seconding the good advice here to go to a shelter for the pet and an older one, or at least a young adult one rather than a puppy or a kitten, would probably be the best for your dad, given that he is older and hasn't owned a pet before. I did, too, read about some programs for senior citizens to adopt senior pets. Two of my three cats have come from the humane society, and both were very affectionate. I got them both as young adult cats and I think they were truly grateful to have a home and they were past the wild destructive kitten age. My third cat was found under the hood of a pickup truck as a kitten, and he really has been, um, let's say, high energy. :lol: He still rarely walks anywhere, instead he runs. Like a small elephant. :lol: It doesn't bother me, but a high energy animal like that could be grating for an older person.

    Good luck! And let us know how it goes...
     
  17. Rock2

    Rock2 Well-Known Member

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    Be careful about getting dogs. It should be a mutt if anything. Most breeds that are more pure have issues (hard to train, act out, need constant stimulation, etc). In general though you can get a very large dog or like a bunny or hamster because they don't live long. Perfect in the event he doesn't grow to like the dang thing.

    Or, you get the kinds of animals that don't need to be taken out at 5 am to relieve themselves and can also fend for themselves with a full dish and some water for 48 hours while you zip over to Vegas. That would be a cat. I'd go with that.

    (Hard to believe I don't have kids?!!?!?!)
     
  18. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    Not perfect at all. An older animal needs to be cared for and loved no less than a younger one. And older animals have less of a chance of being adopted if they are returned to a shelter because their owner decides they don't like them.
     
  19. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    My mom thinks dogs are a billion times easier than kids. :lol: So if someone has had children, they could handle a dog, especially if the children are grown. But again, it depends on his activity level. Cats are very low-maintenance in comparison, especially older cats. The litter box thing isn't very hard at all, although it can be smelly. You'd have to do the same thing for a dog anyway. :lol: And some cats are aloof, some are affectionate. Some are aloof around some people but affectionate towards other people. They can be picky. :)

    I think it's really important that your dad choose the pet. Even dogs will like individual people and not others at times. The kitten here normally loves everybody but she was scared to death of my best friend, which was mysterious since my friend is also petite and female and Asian like my roommate and me. :rofl: No explaining that one.

    I highly recommend a shelter, especially ones that know their animals. You could ask them questions about a particular animal's personality and they could tell you. Breeders are $$$ and shelter animals are just as good as purebred ones, and they need homes.
     
  20. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Conversely, cats walk wherever they want-food-prep surfaces, furniture, the bathroom counter. Dogs who jump, grab food, run off with shoes, etc. are just badly trained, not typical. And cats scratch. The only way to prevent it is declawing, and that is arguably cruel (vets will disagree) and ONLY for indoor-only cats--declawed cats outdoors are missing major survival tools.

    I know some shelters will actually waive ALL fees when a senior citizen adopts a senior animal--worth checking out! I would be more leery of an older cat than an older dog, only in the sense of make SURE it is a house pet surrender/abandon, not a feral (though most shelters won't adopt those to normal homes anyway.) A feral kitten can turn into a decent pet, adult ferals may come with behaviors that you do not want. (At an adoption agency I got severely bitten by a "friendly" feral--he jumped in my lap while I was seated, and when I went to move him, he punched through my wrist. The agency was stunned when I came back and got a cat from them anyone--but not that one! He was not a bad cat, he was just not raised with people and not predictable.)

    If there IS a group like that and you go for a cat, they're not a bad option--private groups that do adoptions often have more time to devote to getting to know each animal. I got one of my cats (I have three) from Merrimack River Feline Rescue. The application is a little more complicated and the fee higher (at the county shelter where I got my corgi I basically needed to have a driver's license and write the check) but they often know more about the animal. I got a six-month-old male, and while he was $175, he had all his kitten shots and had been neutered, and I got all the paperwork from his vet visits and where he came from (SPCA had seized him from a 'kitten collector.') He cost less for initial vetting than my new "free" kitten will when I have to get her spayed (she was dumped at our barn. I wasn't keeping her. Really.)
     
  21. KHenry14

    KHenry14 Well-Known Member

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    Quick note on pet insurance. In my job I brought in pet insurance as an option for our employees, so I've looked at all the major players. The best is VPI www.petinsurance.com They have several coverage levels, including a cancer rider that you can buy. And the best part is that it's good at any Vet, there's no network.

    However, they have a fair amount of restrictions and pre-existing conditions, so read the fine print.

    But the most important thing to know as this insurance is great for when an animal gets hurt or sick. Dogs can be like goats and will eat anything, which obviously can make them sick. This insurance covers that. Also if your animal gets out and gets hit by a car, or gets bit by a snake, it covers that too.

    Price varies alot, depending on the animal and the coverage level. Please note, they don't cover dogs older than 9 years old.
     
  22. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    Not always. When we adopted the above mentioned Marilee, the Humane Society required that we bring our two dogs to meet her, as well as my son. They also did a cat test on her by taking her into a room with a couple of dog freindly cats to see how she reacted. We were required to give them our vet's information and they called them to verify that all of our animals were up to date on their vaccinations.

    A few weeks after Marilee died, I found Shadow on Pet Finder. She was with a small rescue group. She and her sister were up for adoption, and they took first come, first served. We adopted Shadow, and a young family with two kids adopted her sister. This took place in less than 1/2 hour - they didn't ask for proof of vacinations or care of other pets. Unlike another small rescue that we adopted a dog from (our Humphrey), they didn't ask for a home visit.

    I often wonder how Shadow's sister is faring. These were 5 month old German Shepherds with zero socialization - they lived in an outdoor run. Shadow had never seen steps, heard a door closing, or set foot inside a house. As I have learned since adopting her, Shepherds need massive amounts of socialization as well as a good amount of training. We have worked with her since we got her on these two things, but she still is afraid of strangers and growls/grumbles even when people she knows come over. If the other adoptive family didn't understand this about Shadow's sister, she may have ended up back in a shelter/rescue. :(
     
  23. shiningstar

    shiningstar Active Member

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    That's not true either. I have two very well trained cats who do not jump on counter tops and wait by the entrance to the living room until they are invited in. They know where they are allowed to claw and where they are not. Cats who do these things are just badly trained, or not trained as all. I think many cat owners just don't care if their cats jump on counters or claw furniture, or assume it comes with the territory of owning a cat.
     
  24. genegri

    genegri Active Member

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    Thank you everyone for your wonderful suggestions! :encore:

    Finally got a chance to read through everything. And now I am leaning toward a cat for dad. My reason for a dog was because it was likely more people-oriented and I thought a little walk in the park could do both of them tons of good. But I am thinking as this is his first pet, low maintainance is more important.

    So a :cat: it is!

    So I will talk to Dad. (my dad is the sort of person who avoids making the final decision unless he is 200% sure). He has always been a cat lover so I expect no objection.

    Sounds like the easiest way to do it is just to visit a local shelter. So that's what we will do. (Is Humane society the same as a shelter? as you can see, we are pretty new to this) Anyone has any suggestions as to what to look for and what to watch out for before we set out? Any questions we need to ask the staff? Besides the obvious ones, cleanliness, friendliness, not aggressive, etc. I specially would like to know how to choose a healthy cat. I know there is no guarantee, but I will make an effort. I also would like to have the cat spayed or neutered and have all the shots done by the shelter. Is that standard, or something I have to ask? I don't mind paying a bit extra if that's what it comes to.

    I don't want to decide on getting a kitten, a young adult, or an older cat, or a girl or a boy. I think we will just leave it to the right cat to choose us. Who knows, we might even come back with a dog! :dog::lol:

    Neither I or dad is an impulsive buyer so I doubt we will come back with an animal on our first visit. I will probably have more questions to ask though! :D


    TIA! :saint:
     
  25. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    Absolutely no need to declaw a cat, IMO. We trim our cat's nails - the vet can show you how - and provide him with scratching posts, as well as training. Scratching has not been an issue.

    Training works. You absolutely can train a cat not to jump up on counters, if that's what you want to do.
     
  26. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    The Humane Society and the SPCA are nation-wide. They have shelters for animals and adopt out pets, and are also involved in legislation and policing pertinent to animals.

    There are many other shelters and rescue organizations but they tend to be location specific and tend to have a more narrow focus (i.e. just cats, just dogs, or a specific type of dog/cat breed). They are often involved in animal advocacy but don't have the legislative and enforcement power of the SPCA and the Humane Society.

    You can find a cat to adopt at many shelters/rescue organizations and I would guess the prices are similar. All routinely spay and neuter pets for adoption and have their pets checked by vets. They also routinely provide the necessary shots and deworming.

    I've heard that some rescue organizations can be extremely picky and difficult with regard to their adoption policies, so I'd recommend talking to a few of them about your reasons for adopting and health concerns. Then take a look at the available cats and spend some time with the ones that interest you - all places will want you to do that to ensure that you pick the cat that is right for you.

    And involving your dad in the decision is necessary. Associations that adopt out animals are unlikely to adopt out a pet which is meant to be a gift to a third party because often the intended owner doesn't want the pet and it goes back to the shelter immediately or eventually.

    Good luck. There are lot of cats available for adoption and needing homes - way more cats than dogs. And many cats are put to sleep because there is no way for shelters to accommodate the numbers.
     
  27. Flatfoote

    Flatfoote Active Member

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    Glad to hear you are starting off with a visit to the local shelter. Do they have a website, with pictures of adoptable animals? Our little girl Gidget first called out to me from her picture on the website. When we got there, sis wheeled Mom slowly by each kennel, and I went on ahead looking specifically for Gidget. She's a beautiful girl, and after going up an down many rows of kennels, I'd begun to assume she had already been snatched up. I finally went around the corner to find one more row of kennels, and there she was! I went back and got Mom, made her come see, and we arranged and meet/greet with Gidget to see how we took to each other. Gidget went right past me, ran over to Mom, jumped up on her lap and gave her a bunch of kisses. That sealed the deal. Mom said, "I want her." I figure she must have already known she'd snagged me by calling out to me over the Internet, so she knew she had to work on Mom to seal the deal.

    The shelter needed 24 hours to process her out, so I had to wait till the next day to bring her home. We got her just in time too. As we were standing there with her filling out the paperwork, a family came in, saw her and said "is that Kash (her name while she was at the shelter). So apparantly they had come in looking for her specifically too. I was scared to death they'd give her to someone else during that 24 hour wait. But they assured me she was already taken off the adoptable list.

    So really. Its all about what/who clicks at just the right time. We didn't rescue Gidget as much as she rescued us. Our last dear dog had passed just two weeks prior. And that two weeks with no dog in the house were two of the most miserable and excruciating weeks I ever endured.
     
  28. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    Does he want a pet? Sometimes the best intentions can be the wrong decision.
     
  29. StonewshMullet

    StonewshMullet Well-Known Member

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