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Forrest
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Topic: Of Dogs and Whitewater
    Posted: 10 Jul 2012 at 11:22pm
Please read this blog post and share your opinion: Do dogs belong on whitewater?
http://thenotesguyinseattle.com/2012/07/10/dogsandwhitewater/


Edited by Forrest - 10 Jul 2012 at 11:22pm
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 7:19am
My thoughts on your Post Forrest.

1.  "The water temperature was cold enough that such a long swim through the next rapid would have been life threatening by the temperature alone (Keep in mind this chart is based on an adult human.  Heat loss is faster for a 40 Lb dog though fur helps.) " 

Disagree. If you know the chart is not accurate and don't know or list the variance then why even mention it?  Dogs are physically very different than humans when it comes to withstanding cold, blood vessel arrangement, heat transfer to the body core and even types of fat tissue. So I disagree, dogs can handle the cold much and I do mean much better than humans can. Do they get cold, sure, but not like humans.

2. Dogs do not have any understanding of the dangers of whitewater.

Dogs most certainly do know the dangers of whitewater. My dog (was dogs, old one died in a class V rapid called age) hunkers down in a raft and lowers his center of gravity when a rapid is coming up, he ferries behind rocks and will or will not go after sticks depending on how close he is to rapids. Sometimes (they now he) will be going after a stick and then all of a sudden stop and head to the rivers bank because he is clearly aware that he does not want to swim into the on coming rapid. Do dogs pick lines like humans aware of all of the intricacies ... no but they do pick lines based on what they believe to be the safest route... Which then renders the statement "Dogs do not have any Understanding of whitewater" False. Do they have the same understanding as us, perhaps better, do you see dogs running class V water falls ... no because they now it is dangerous, but humans do because we rationalize the danger against enjoyment, so in that case who is understanding whitewater better? Next question, if you don't run class V waterfalls does that mean you don't have any understanding of whitewater compared to a class V boater? I would say no, just less.

3. “Oh, he’ll just swim to shore.” is a dangerous assumption.  Even if the dog does swim to shore, is it going to the right one?

When it comes to swimming there is no such thing as the wrong side. The Shore is just the shore, there are sides to the river but not the shore (this is just arguing grammar though so lets move on). If you swim and have the luxury of going to the best "side of the river", then you do it but in most cases you swim to the nearest bank. Dogs do the same thing, if you toss a stick in the river do they swim across and get stranded? Usually not because they know which side to go back to... If they swim in a rapid just like a person they are aiming to get out. Although I have a friend that had a dog named Cassie (died of old age but was named after her favorite river the cascade) and she knew  the rivers she was on so well that sometimes she would up and jump out of the boat, run down the bank, ferry across to the other side run out of sight and then pop out ahead of us only to jump off a little perch back into the boat. Would I take my dogs down the cascade? Nope, and I wouldn't put myself in harms way to save one either, but that dog seemed to do well with it.

4. Risk assessment

I agree with you here for sure. Everyone has a different level of risk they are willing to accept, you can live a great and happy life never taking a single risk, whilst another person can not. Do dogs belong on the river, that decision is up to the owner and then secondly up to any person who decides to join the group down the river. If you see a dog going down in the future you might choose not to go based on your experience although it ended fine but had some pretty bad possibilities. I love animals and I love dogs and I don't think endangering a dog or people in the process is worth it, so I choose not to take them down technical runs, but part of boating with my dogs is also me assessing my abilities since they are under my care.

So should dogs be on the river ?  .... The better question in my mind is Should the guy that got stuck in a hole on the SAUK be taking dogs down a river?
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 10:05am
Ultimately it comes down to the owners ability to safely navigate whitewater.  Dog's were wild animals long before we started breeding Pomeranians and golden retrievers, dogs will probably handle their swim better than most people. 

But this discussion is about risk, and whether the owner is willing to assume risk for their pets, but they could just as easily get hit by a car when taking a walk, so we really need to discuss risk in general and not risk in whitewater.  How often do people put there dogs in seat belts?  I'd rather have my dog swim the sauk than get into a crash on I-5.

People like to say that whitewater is somehow more risky than things we do on a daily basis, What I would like to ask of people is really evaluate the things everyone does everyday and what the risks are with those.

Dogs are a lot tougher than humans.




Edited by Jed Hawkes - 11 Jul 2012 at 10:11am
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 10:11am
Thanks for the response.  More dialog is happening on the WRRR forum too.  You might need to be a member to read them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/313404025257/10151899143255258/?notif_t=group_comment

One person describes how they were paddling on the Tieton and one person in the group brought a dog.  The dog had a long swim there.  It seemed fine back at camp that night, but was dead the next day.  The owner of the raft in the video mentioned he occasionally takes his dog and is glad he didn't on that day.
To reflect on your comments:
4. Regardless of any other points, we agree here.  I like to adopt the philosophy of a friend who says "I won't paddle a rapid I wouldn't swim" to say I won't take my dog on a rapid I wouldn't have her swim. (On the other hand, I personally accept the risk of paddling water I wouldn't swim, like the Upper Gauley or the Narrows of the Green.)
1.  While how much the water temperature influences the danger is debatable, we agree that it is definitely one of several factors that increase risks.  In the few minutes of immersion this dog experienced, it came out shaking.
2.  Yes, a dog will instinctively know whitewater is dangerous.  But a dog does not know the difference between class 2 and class 5 and cannot say "No, I don't want to run that." to its master.  Also most dogs, particularly one that is well-trained, will trust their master's judgment not to put them in a life-threatening situation, like running dangerous rivers.  The dog knows "fun, we're going rafting!" but not "oh, I might drown."
3.  There is definitely a wrong side to swim to in many rapids.  It is usually the one with an undercut rock, strainer or other hazard.  The Nozzle of the Green for instance.

It isn't entirely clear to me your final question: Should someone that got stuck in a hole on the Sauk be taking dogs down a river?  I can tell you he is a very competent boater, which ironically may even be a contributing factor.  This could have happened to anyone on this river at this level (as was proven by the other boat in the video of another very good boater).  Thus to my point, it isn't about the skills of the boater in avoiding an incident.  It's really about the consequences when things go wrong.

Thanks again for contributing to the discussion.
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  Quote rutrow Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 10:23am

Cold water lol, my dog swims long distances with water filled with Ice.  Hunting dogs have been doing this a very long time.  On really cold runs use a wet suite vest under the life jacket, really helps keep em warm. 

 

Both dog and I don't run cold swift white water without proper gear.  We both train for the river.  Ellie (the dog) knows the command for swim back to my boat or head either shore.  Ellie is very good at reading the water she knows not to swim against the current and to use a eddy to get to shore.  Physical, not all breeds are good swimmers. 

 

I chose Ellie a Field Golden as great cold water swimmer.  Conditioning, Ellie regularly swims 2 miles across my lake and is ready for more!  I on the other hand am pretty much spent.  Many of these issues, age, proper gear, training, intelligence and physical abilities are not that much different for humans.  So each time you see a golden retriever on a black cat boat a lot of effort and thinking went into it.

 
 
 
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 10:41am
"But a dog does not know the difference between class 2 and class 5 and cannot say..."

They clearly don't know the words class 2 or class 5 unless you teach them, which I am sure some dog in the world somewhere might know. I mean if you took the time to teach fetch, lay, roll over etc.. the dog can learn classes. But the inherent understanding of size and power of river features is understood by animals. I had a dog that would swim rapids and when the water got higher she would stop swimming the same rapids because she did not like the size of the features and currents.

About not swimming towards hazards, I agree dogs don't understand that stuff for the most part and usually that is on more difficult rivers which goes back to owners ability to safely navigate and make solid decisions on safety.

You can tell me he is a very competent boater but even that comes down to opinion. You say dogs shouldn't be rafting on the river... I say a guy that takes his dog down the sauk and gets stuck in a hole is either A. not worried about his dog, IE knows it can handle the swim, or B is not competent enough to avoid the feature.

And you are wrong about it happening to anyone on that river at that level... there are plenty of people that it would never happen too. Any oarsmen or guide that accidentally got stuck in the hole you have in that video is not worthy of being called "a very good boater" and I would trend more towards the label of either learning or poor in skill.


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  Quote dave Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 11:24am
I have an idea! Lets make a new law to protect the poor dogs!
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  Quote shap Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 12:11pm

I am sort of biased, always had a dog pretty much, and mostly lab mixes. They call them Labradors for a reason, they were actually bred for aiding fisherman off the Labrador coast (cold baby, cold).  Anyway, I have taken my dogs on lots of rivers with up to periodic Class III+ to IV (like the lower Salmon, Main Salmon, lower Owyhee, etc.).  But I have left them home on harder more continuous whitewater trips.  I also don’t boat alone with a dog on whitewater, like with a kid, I always have someone up front to tend.  It is way hard to be rowing in whitewater and trying to catch a dog/kid and yard them back into the boat by yourself when you are also trying to run the boat.  Plus the dog wears a life jacket on whitewater.  My old lab mix lived to be 13 years and I had to put him down last summer due to cancer, he made many many many multiday trips, swam a bit, and was always stoked to go on the river, at least by the tail wag sign.  The new dog has been in the canoe and IK and will make her first multiday on the Grande Ronde this weekend.  The other issue is training, your dog should be under full voice command at all times, to sit, stay, etc. Should you bring dogs, hell yes, should they go on ever trip, hell no.  But apparently I am a veiner schnitzel so my opinion shouldn't matter :)



Edited by shap - 11 Jul 2012 at 12:13pm
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  Quote Dale Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 12:53pm
One thing to remember here is not all dogs are created equally.

Here's a couple quick stories.

I was at the lake with an old girlfriend and her little 12 pound dog. We're floating in inner tubes and swimming around and the dog is on the houseboat fussing about not hanging out with us. I'm trying to coax the dog to jump in, but he was afraid to jump and the girlfriend is fussing at me, saying the dog doesn't swim. I laugh and tell her all dogs swim. She says maybe so but her dog doesn't swim. I get the dog to jump down on her inner tube and talk her into trying to get the dog to swim. She reluctantly agreed. We get our tubes about 5-6 feet apart and I call the dog. When the dog launches from her tube, I back away a few feet to make the dog swim a little further. The little hairball did pretty good for about 4-5 feet, then started sinking. Really... just sinking. His little legs were pumping away like mad, yet, there was very little forward motion and he was dropping like a rock. My life flashed before my eyes. I freaked and dove and brought the little guy up from about 4 feet down. He was fine. Lesson learned and learned well. All dogs can't swim.

Another time, we were going on a class II run with me and Meryl in kayaks and 2 friends in a canoe with their golden retriever. We expected the dog to mostly just run along the bank. It was kind of cold and we didn't expect him to want to swim much. The dog started out in the canoe and as they approached the first little rapid which had a sweet surfing spot, the dog starts barking, then jumps out of the canoe and swims around in the playspot until it got washed down, then swam to the bank, ran upstream at full tilt a good 50 yards above the playspot and swam/ferried back through the play spot several times. As we left that first spot and got into some flat water, the dog swam over to the canoe and wanted in. As they approached each rapid, the dog would get excited and bark and carry on and when they got close to the fluffy stuff, the dog would jump out and repeat the whole thing, swimming through our surfing spots, performing text book eddy turns and peel outs and ferries. It always wanted back in the boat in flatwater and out of the boat in rapids. This dog was raised by them from a pup and this was it's first whitewater experience. That dog could swim.

Like I said, all dogs are not created equal.

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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 1:19pm
Dale... I don't mean to be a jerk but you have opened up a new can of worms.

Your first example is what my dad would call an Un-Dog, while your second example is a real Dog.

After all the kids in my family moved out and my parents were alone (we all took our dogs) they had to decide if they wanted to get dogs for themselves. My dad did not want the burden and my mom did not want to be the only one taking care of a big dog so they settled for an Un-Dog. Needless to say I would never take that little rat on a river... perhaps out of fear that it would drown, or a more relevant fear that an osprey or eagle would swoop down and snatch it for a hot meal.
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 1:36pm
Shap, Excellent point about having someone to tend to the dog/kid besides the captain.  I also think the loose comparison of a dog to a young child works.  If people in the group view it that way, safety would probably be handled a bit differently.  When I ran the Rogue and kids were on the trip, we intentionally included 2 kayaks on the trip as designated safety boats and paddled as such.  We all agreed to accept the risks.

Labs are great dogs.  I might have had mine on whitewater if I had the boat for it. But I think my limit would be where the dog can swim the rapid with minimal risk, by definition class 2 to easy 3. Definitely train them!  Obedience training can't be over emphasized.

I say easy class 3, but it's more about the consequences of a swim than the difficulty of running the rapid.

A word on competence.  Hubris is a dangerous thing.  The hazards of the river do not disappear as your skills and judgment improve.  While you may be less likely to encounter them and more capable of dealing with a situation, the risk is still there.  On more than one occasion has a person everyone would agree was an expert, found out the hard way they were not impervious.  For example, I watched Olympic Gold Medalist Joe Jacobi take a beating and go unconscious before being rescued from a similar hole just below the put in on the Ocoee River, TN.  The hole is called Grumpy.  This is a straight forward class 3 rapid.  The hole is easy to avoid and everyone knows about the hole, especially Joe, who was there training for the Olympics that would be held there in 1996.  He had run that rapid hundreds of times.  But apparently the river didn't know Joe.  So it did the same thing to Joe that it did to everyone else that found themselves in that hole.

James, If it can happen to Joe, it can happen to anyone.  To presume otherwise is hubris.  You do not know the full circumstances of either incident nor the skills of either boater and you cannot make a judgement of them based on the information you have.  I will point out that in both cases, equipment failure was involved.  They both lost an oar.  Who do you know that is so good that they will never have an oarlock break? 


Edited by Forrest - 11 Jul 2012 at 1:37pm
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 1:57pm
Ya know Slickhorn, you're quite right.  "much greater risks" is definitely an overstatement.  I'm not exposing myself to death or drowning or even death by drowning for a dog.  ;-)  But I'm sure we wouldn't have just sat there for 45 minutes waiting for something to happen and the captain of that raft would not have just abandoned the raft with the dog in it.  And I know the guy in the IK took on a risk when he drifted through the rapid with the dog in his lap.

As it was, we waited and 45 minutes before it washed out on its own.
So that is a big part of my question/point:  The group inherently takes on some additional risk with every member of the group.  At what point does taking a dog on the river become too much of a liability?  While you may not risk your life for the dog, the owner may take greater risks than you.  And if that risk becomes reality, you must now take on additional risk to save the owner.  So in fact, you have taken on additional risk, whether you intended to or not.

And thanks.  I would take on some risk to myself to save you too.  :-)


Edited by Forrest - 11 Jul 2012 at 1:58pm
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  Quote septimus prime Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 2:06pm
Why cant they compare kids to dogs? It's two creatures that humans can have deep emotional ties to.

And Dale, that's why Goldens are the greatest.

I cant wait to get a raft and start taking Trail and the growing fam out.
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 2:07pm
No, we're not entirely comparing kids to dogs.  The point is only that both are a good reason to have an extra set of hands on board.  Unless it's an un-dog.

Edited by Forrest - 11 Jul 2012 at 2:09pm
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  Quote septimus prime Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 3:27pm
Oh my dog is a sh*t factory that is for sure, but you are boating with the wrong people if that is your universal experience with dogs next to the rio and their owners.
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 4:34pm
Classic photo!

To all, thanks for a great discussion!  I posted a summary on my blog based on the dialogs from several forums. 
http://thenotesguyinseattle.com/2012/07/10/dogsandwhitewater/#comment-708

Please continue the discussion.  Only through forums like these can we all benefit from the lessons of others.
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  Quote Courtney Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 6:53pm
Actually, if you are talking about culture today, you have it sort of backward. In genral, people in our cuture today live much less with animals than people historically.  Coming from a farm/agricultural family background, a close association with animals (dogs, livestock) etc. is extremely normal and folks that don't have that association in todays modern culture are the ones I consider to be more detached from reality. 
Be on Notice, if I am on a conventional multiday raft trip I will have my dog, If it is heavy duty whitewater I will be in my cat and the dog will be at home (there is a pun there somewhere) 
 
 :) 
 
I can think of a lot of folks I would let drown before my dog (mostly politicians though)
 [/QUOTE]

I grew up raising farm animals and the difference between farm animals and pets is huge.  On a farm you raise animals with the intent of killing and eating them, which gives me a whole different perspective on the pet thing as my wife.  We have a pet die, I think, well, animals don't live as long as us and they die, it was a good dog while it was here, see you in the next life.  She gets pretty emotional and has a funeral and all kinds of stuff.  I don't count horses because they are generally pets and not tools.

I take dogs on easy whitewater day trips.  Don't really understand the big deal, but then I don't really understand people that go crazy over animals anyway.

This was Jimmy by the way, Courtney will kick my butt for writing this under her name!


Edited by Courtney - 11 Jul 2012 at 6:55pm
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  Quote Wiggins Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 10:20pm
People should definitely ask before bringing their dogs on other people's trips and should let the group know if their dog is going on their own trips.

I bring my German Shepherd on multiday river trips, and the Skagit from time to time. Like someone else mentioned one of the prerequisites is that there needs to be a second person in the boat to deal with the dog.

Before my trips I make it clear we rescue people first, and the dog can get picked up with the gear later.

As far as a dog's ability to deal with whitewater I don't worry about it too much. Between hunting and boating I have seen dogs run swim some nasty stuff. Like James said, they seem to do the right things. It is people that panic.

Foot entrapment is not a concern with dogs either. Their legs lend themselves to not getting stuck, and even if that were not the case dogs are not tall enough to stand up in water that is too deep to be safe.

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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 9:04am
Awesome discussion- surprised it hasn't come up sooner. One of the topics that makes these forums interesting and thought provoking.

My 2 cents (and I will try to keep it to at least 19 cents):

Dogs have been participating in whitewater trips and their periphery functions for as long as I have (since 1979 or so).

It does come down to the dog owners' judgement, combined with their proficiency as a boater. Saddly, too often these two values are deficient. But in those cases where the boatman is taking his or her dog within a realistic context, I'd say there is something natural about it. Many dogs love the river. Now this cokes down to breed (both of the dog and of the boater who is responsible for the dog).

Ok. I'm up to about 11 cents, or should I say 11 scents. Urbanites can't stand the way I smell but the dogs seem to enjoy sniffing me for extended durations.

For give me for jumping in without reading the whole thread, but it seems to me that the real question is whether or not CATS belong on the river.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 9:49am
Originally posted by slickhorn


  My experience with dog owners is universally the same: something is wrong with ME for not loving their adorable little sh*t factory.  Well, if your dog wasn't in my crotch, my boat, my tent, my gear pile, and leaving dung bombs all the beach which don't get picked up, maybe I wouldn't be so anti dog.  I know, I know, no one in this thread is like that, those people are bad owners and I can't blame the dog for the owners problem.  Well, ya can't tell a good owner from a bad one til its too late.  None of that makes a damn bit of difference when a pissed off Doberman has your only dinner and the owner thinks its "cute."




Haha--- yup. Another topic in which I am in lockstep agreement w/ the Slickman. There are some really cool dog owners out there who have put the time and energy into raising their dogs well. But they tend to be in the minority.

It is annoying being around so many lazy dog owners who have dogs to augment their outdoor lifestyle, yet they seem to have invested little or no time into raising the dog to be obiedient. Often these dogs are left un supervised to wreak havoc in a group setting such as the Poopy Pup Ball-- well, some of you know my own policy on that:

You don't want to leave your dog unattended to get into trouble on my watch. Don't put me in a position to teach your dog a lesson the hard way. Haha! fu*kin Wyatt!
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 9:53am
...but keeping it stricktly to being on the river, breed is a HUGE determining factor. That little dog Dale mentioned: was it a pug or something? Small legs, a bundle of muscle (sinker), and some snorttle chorttle factor...

So James, what breed is the best for squirt boatin, do ya think?

Personally, I think its time to revisit the discussion of breeding Whitewater Ducks.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 9:59am
Cats are just wrong on the river. (Catarafts are fine- I don't wanna offend you catboaters- I'll catch hell for that :)

Everyone knows cats hate water. I have some friends who used to take thier cat rafting on occassion. But I was never there so I don't know how the cat did with it.
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  Quote JoesKayak Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 10:17am
Originally posted by jP

...but keeping it stricktly to being on the river, breed is a HUGE determining factor. That little dog Dale mentioned: was it a pug or something? Small legs, a bundle of muscle (sinker), and some snorttle chorttle factor...

So James, what breed is the best for squirt boatin, do ya think?

Personally, I think its time to revisit the discussion of breeding Whitewater Ducks.



Waterfowl are definitely remarkable creatures. They amaze me with the sh*t they can run. River otters too. I want a pet river otter. Wouldn't that be cool? Train it to bring you fresh fish at camp? You can definitely learn some new moves from aquatic pets.


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  Quote not-very-clever Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 10:26am
The gaggle is tearing it up!

ive seen malards river running, catching eddies and pealing out of eddies!

they cheat on the boofs though!

and i generally like dogs.  just make sure your dog isnt being a menacing delinquent in the wilderness! as long as your dog is cool, then having him rafting, mtn biking, hiking camping, at the bar, thats cool....



Edited by not-very-clever - 12 Jul 2012 at 10:38am
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  Quote JoesKayak Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 10:33am
I've had a few boofs where I wish I had wings. 
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