Doodleman pinschers? Please.

Every year, in the spring, Tracy goes to Utah with a few friends, most notably Alison, her old high-school buddy, and Jane, the one who rents the house near Moab for six weeks.

Tracy and I would text or email from time to time, hers on the order of “had another wonderful hike today” and mine on the order of “more rain today; worried about the sump pump.” But we didn’t communicate much. She was out in nature, which is what she likes most on earth. She was having her David Brower-Edward Abbey moment of clarity.

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Utah. Note heartening lack of dogs

So imagine my surprise when she wrote me, “Skyful of stars tonight; Jane is researching poodle mixes.”

Poodle mixes! It was then that I felt the noose tightening. Even 800 miles away, surrounded by all the  majesty that southeastern Utah can provide — and that’s a lotta vistas — she is plotting what kind of dog to get.

I have already expressed reservations about the dog. I do not see why we need a dog. We have a cat; I’d certainly be willing to go to two cats. Three cats, even, if that what it takes to shut down this line of inquiry. But no. She’s fixated on a dog. A dog! Imagine.

Tracy has lot of allies. They come from everywhere. Just mention that you’re thinking of getting a dog, and they’re immediately on you, phones out, showing you photos of Butch or Lord Byron or Shaggypaws or Irene, each with insanely needy eyes, staring out and saying, “yes, yes, I will follow you anywhere and lay down my life for you if needed.”

If Musty or K-9 or Clover were a human being, it would be said to have serious boundary issues. They’re like stalkers, dogs — they really, really love you and nothing you can do will dissuade them from following you, because you are the leader of the pack.

Is that what you want? An animal that would follow a tree stump if it could perform the appropriate dominance rituals? A fickle, heart-on-its-sleeve, let’s-sleep-together-so-I-can-take-up-all-the-room-and-snore, pet-like entity? People actively seek that out? What does that say about people?

Date (YYYYMMDD)UpYourAlleyFetish(0001)-11
People having fun without dogs.

A cat does not do that. A cat does not care who the leader of the pack is, because he’s in a pack of one and he’s the leader. A cat does not place any burden of expectation on you. Cat ownership is a series of one-night stands.

I have one committed relationship in my life, plus my daughters to whom I am also committed, and a few intense friendships — why do I need a creature from way down the food chain to bond with?

Tracy thinks the a poodle mix would be good. They don’t shed, I guess. And people who own them think they’re great, because people who own a special breed of dog think that it’s the specialest in whole damn world. The famous Jane came up with a poodle/dachshund mix (Poohund?) that is, quite frankly, the ugliest dog I have ever seen.

poodle, dachshund mix
The poohund. I mean, really?

 

A little googling reveals that poodle mixes are the most popular designer dogs at the moment. (Doesn’t your blood chill a little bit when you hear the phrase “designer dog”?) Among the species are Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Bassetoodles, Bich-poos, Cavapoos, Aussidoodles, Peekapoos, and the Doodleman Pinscher. Really? Peekapoos?

Great Dane is a dog. Peekapoo is a brand of lingerie.

Tracy makes many points. A dog would get us out of the house. (So would going to a movie). A dog is a lot more fun to play with than a cat. (Who said the need for constant play was a desirable trait in a pet?) A poodle is hypoallergenic. (So is an elephant; I don’t want one of those either.)  And, I dunno, we could dress it up and have pretend tea parties. (OK, she didn’t say that. But you could do it. Dogs are malleable.) (Need I say that a cat would never put up with someone dressing him in a cute pillbox hat. He’d be out of there, demonstrating the common sense of cats. Dogs and common sense: Not so much.)

And also, I have a pet. His name is Pancho. Just guessing here, but I don’t think he’d like a dog in his house. And my primary loyalty is to Pancho, who is a real cat as opposed to imaginary dog. Why would anyone want to torment him with a dog? Who could be that cruel? I can’t say for sure, but I am personally acquainted with a prime suspect.

June 2009-8
Pancho senses doom. Will the humans betray him?

But still, this conversation persists. People who think of me as weak-kneed and passive in domestic matters will have another think coming. Sure, my wife could convince me to hike five weeks in the Himalaya, but this is different. Yes, she managed to persuade me to invest in Berkshire Hathaway, although I didn’t see what the the big deal was about a shirt company. The stone circle in the front yard? It’s there, even though I mocked it. It looks pretty spiffy now, but…she can’t be right about everything.

The Cold War continues. The Vegas odds against my eventual victory are daunting, but I persist. I’m like Rocky. Perhaps I will buy a stuffed dog and bring it home, and every so often I would put it near Tracy’s face and say, “I love you so much, Tracy. Pet me please.” Wiggle wiggle. “Now I have to take a shit.”

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No one is thinking, if only there were a dog here.

 

 

Photography by Tracy “just the pathetic screams of a loser” Johnston

General help by Michelle “No nickname this week” Mizera

 

 

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83 thoughts on “Doodleman pinschers? Please.

  1. Thanks, Jon – this one made me laugh out loud. Enjoying all of them.

    Thanks, too, for getting Mitch and me to the Merle Haggard concert. So glad to have seen him with his band.

    Love, K

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jon: Go ahead and get the dog already. You know how this is going to turn out. Would you like me to send you my 4th grade class essays on why dogs are better pets than cats. Maybe that would make it easier. And by the way, I hope you appreciate that this is the first blog I have ever replied to in my life, and probably the last. Charlie

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am currently involved in a series of one-night stands with our two cats, although I am more frequently stood up. However, they can’t get enough of each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. To my friends enamored of canines, I generally bring up the following points early in the conversation: dogs bite, most often children who don’t understand that dogs are territorial and will attack. Dogs also shit freely, often in inventive and remote places and sometimes gifting the owner or an innocent bystander with a contagious parasite. And finally, dogs bark…

    I have had my most difficult neighbor interactions over barking dogs. I can’t make them control their dog’s behavior, but I can cost them $3000 a month in window repairs. Yes, I’ve actually done that twice. It works like a charm, preceded by a polite, anonymous letter from “the friendly neighbor”, which never works like a charm.

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  4. Fantastic, cats are no maintenance…dogs never stop being needy. Still, I’m a dog guy…you could have never written such a great article with these pics for the paper. Glad you are joyfully retired. More to come!

    Oh, and women always win, start picking your breed and get a doggie door put in☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If women always won, they’d get equal pay for the same work, and wouldn’t have all those scars after family “disagreements”.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Omg. Great article. We have a cat and my spouse wants a dog at some point so I totally get where you are coming from. Even post-Pancho! Thanks for continuing to write in retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As a former dog owner (she died and we did not replace her) I completely understand your resistance to the idea of adding another needy animal to your household. Yes, they need need need. I predict, however, that eventually you will become a willing caretaker for the needy one. This is because We Can Get Used To Anything, even the breath of a dog. Also, people actually take up golf. Dude. How sick is that? The one that we neglected to replace used to find the most MOST disgusting things to roll in, her entire body would be covered with something you wouldn’t pick up with a stick, and when she did that I wanted to kill her slowly in a painful illegal manner. But I truly loved that dog, and you will love yours, too. It turns out humans rather like adoration. Who knew.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Well hey, you’ve got a lot of bad stuff to say about dogs, I must say. I’ve seen lots of households, including my own, where dogs and cats co-existed harmoniously. Reasonably harmoniously, anyway. Certain proprieties have to be enforced now and then, but by and large they can get along. Even when the cat has a litter of kittens. For what it’s worth, stay away from breeds that need periodic haircuts and breeds that are hard to housebreak.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Don’t give in Jon! Dogs may get you out of the house, but you don’t always want to get out of the house, but they have to go! Many of my friends have dogs, and when they want to leave town it’s a big deal… Think of taking the beast with you where ever you go because it can’t (unlike a cat) be left alone and when you are home, it won’t leave you alone…
    Thanks for the laughs …

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  9. Wonderful post (and photos). I’m siding with you, not that I hate dogs, but mainly because a) getting a dog would be hard on Pancho, and b) I’m afraid your all too rare cat columns will become even less due to dog columns. Cats are also far superior pets, particularly because you don’t have to walk them during El Niño.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dogs love to walk through poison oak. If you are allergic, you will discover that there is something called second hand poison oak. I can even get it third hand. “If you take a dog out with you to play in the woods, it’s also possible for them to have direct contact with the urushiol oil from the poison oak. If the oil gets on their coat, you could actually pet them and get the oil on your body. This is why it’s important to bathe your pet after allowing them to play outdoors. While “poison oak” is not contagious, the urushiol oil can be transferred from one person or dog to another person. If you touch your friend with the oil on your hands, it’s possible for them to end up with a rash.”

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  11. Pancho looks quite noble in that photo. Dogs bark and bite and now infest BART, restaurants and workplaces, whether others like it or not. And why is it considered all right to lead dogs to my garden, or anyone else’s, so they can piss and shit there? Picking (most of) it up afterward doesn’t make it OK. They shouldn’t be allowed in urban areas. Otherwise, I love dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As a “dog person,” I always held a negative opinion of cats. Until I adopted one … in protest. The thing is a jerk, peels off the surface of our Sheetrock in every single room of our house, and every other day decides I am a dangerous animal who must be engaged in battle until blood is shed. And yet, I can’t imagine life without her. My guess is the poodledor will worm it’s way into your cold, dead heart, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In your phrase, “the most popular designer dogs at the moment”, the more blood-chilling part, IMO, is “popular at the moment.” But it’s a close call, I grant you that.

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  14. I wonder about some peoples’ past experience with dogs.

    I suspect their feelings about having children would be the same if they put the same effort into them…

    Children poop.
    Children cry.
    Children demand attention.
    Children insist on eating.
    Children must be cleaned.
    Children interfere with travel.

    Ignore all that and you end up with a child very similar to the dog experiences people have been relating.

    “My” dog was a sensitive (dogs can read your face and emotions) friend and helpful companion.

    Anything can be a burden if that is how you picture it.

    I know of cats that hiss and scratch the furniture, vomit whenever the feel the urge and bring dead wildlife to their host.

    Litter boxes are not my idea of joy.

    If I read Jon’s posts aloud to my dog, she would enjoy them.

    A cat would just walk away.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dogs (and cats, but to a lesser degree) are excellent child substitutes, especially as that they never reach that vile teenaged state. They never find you embarassing, old hat, or clueless. And they love nap time. Even at 8 weeks, you need not provide feedings at 2, 4, or 6 a.m. They are usually toilet-trained by 3 mos. The birth mother’s never sue for visitation rights. And if you play it right, you will outlive them. Free to squander any potential inheritance.

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  15. Cats are [good pets for] introverts. Dogs are [good pets for] extraverts (that’s how Jung spelled it, though my spell-check is ignorant of Jung.) I wish you luck! says this introvert.

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  16. If your Tracy signs a contract to feed, walk, train and speak to the police when the neighbors complain of the barking… then; and only maybe then; could you consider a dog. However ask any mom whose child promised to take care of the pet and see how reliable that is. And doesn’t Madame travel quite often; who will do dog care then? That said I live in the country & I feel sorry for urban dogs; & cats for that matter. Outdoors is where animals thrive. My boy Jkee the MagnifiCat is 21 years old & still wanders outside & sniffs the Australian shepherd, and intimidates the barn cat who has moved in w/us…ignores the chickens & demands a great deal of love & attention. Which he gets willingly. He’s been a great hunter & fighte ; finally retiring a couple of years ago. ( I can heal abceses )

    I’m very happy and appreciative that you are writing these great posts. More real, more soul.
    I cancelled my Chron subscription after you seemed to get the bums rush out. It took 4 months for them to finally stop it, mainly because I didn’t pay ’til they did I have now paid the $96 but they have called me 7 times since I first told them to cancel my $500/ per year subscription…Now calls offer more discounted terms….blah blah blah.
    Good luck w/ the dog & keep these posts coming.

    Wyverna

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  17. Hang in there and don’t weaken! Or else you will find yourself someday not that far from now, when your wife has gone to Namibia or something, standing in the rain waiting for her dog to excrete a steamy pile of shit so you can pick it up in your hand and carry it as far as might be needed. You might just conceivably think that just barely worth it if it were your dog, but it won’t be, and people who go to Namibia tend to stay a while. Courage! You might need to take some heat, but at least you won’t have to carry around handfuls of shit.

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  18. DOGs…I have always had both dogs and cats….dogs need walking everyday dogs need house sitters when you go away….if you do get a dog I would suggest a small dog that DOES NOT shed. I have a small 10lb. Pom mix that is easy to TAKE Anywhere….and another dog Ella 50 lb. who goes for walks with the dog walker three times a week I can’t go anywhere with out dog/house sitters……this is a big deal…. If you want to travel stay with a cat or two…and I love DOGs,but now that Iam 72/73 I would go for the easier cat way….or a little dog🐶🐱🙈🙉🙊

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    1. Stick to your guns, Jon. No dog needed in my life either. My cat Phoebe is all that’s necessary. We had cats growing up until my mom remarried to a dog person… talk about culture shock. Two dogs. Two. They were OK…but really, for all the reasons you state above. No dogs allowed.

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  19. My explanation for why we never got a dog, though we did have two sister cats when our kids were young): “Of course I would love to have a dog if we lived out in the country.” Which we don’t ad never will, but I do think if you have a little acreage, a dog is inevitable. I trust your Oakland home does not qualify.

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  20. We have two Cairn terriers that are a big part of our lives, and a cat, who is no problem unless we have another alien dog visiting here. Tell Tracy it is much better to get a dog you can easily pick up, especially those of us that are or are approaching, OLD. Dependable house/dogsitter is mandatory. Terriers generally do not shed. Good Luck!

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  21. As you have heard form me and others, just go with your fate. Unless it is a particularly ornery dog, you will be converted. And you may be in the best possible place – your stance could result in Tracy’s absorbing all the work. It would be like borrowing your brother’s beuytiful but fussy sports car (read: 1967 XKE).

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hang in there Jon. My wife has been trying the same kind of shenanigans including the ever so helpful “friends” who continue to send her pictures of increasingly ugly dogs My cat Buddy is not impressed. I am staying strong and hope you will too.

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  23. See attachment for my answer to your Why Get a Dog column.

    Liz

    On Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 2:40 PM, Jon Carroll Prose wrote:

    > joncarrollprose posted: “Every year, in the spring, Tracy goes to Utah > with a few friends, most notably Alison, her old high-school buddy, and > Jane, the one who rents the house near Moab for six weeks. Tracy and I > would text or email from time to time, hers on the order of “had a” >

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  24. Am in solidarity with you and the resist crowd. The unfortunate reality is that there is little compromising on this; you can’t get half a dog or have one half the time. My philosophy on things like this is that it is easier for the dog/cat/whatever spouse to go off and get their fix elsewhere. Take up walking friends with dogs, dog sit, volunteer at the SPCA etc. It is impossible for the spouse who doesn’t want a dog/cat/whatever to leave home or effectively get away from a new 24/7 roommate. And yes, you will be chief cook and poop scooper when she is away! And forget the contract; those last all of a week!

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      1. My bad. I assumed (and we all know how that goes) that designer dogs and shelter dogs were mutually exclusive I guess because that’s one of the few terms I learned in math classes. Of course they are not.

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  25. Anyone who thinks cats are “no maintenance” has not smelled my sister’s house.

    Our two poodles have been wonderful companions for us, each of them with a huge personality. The thought of adding the malleability of a Labrador retriever to that, which was the original reason that Labradoodles were bred (to make hypo-allergenic dogs that would succeed in service dog training) does not appeal to me.

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    1. All animals need maintenance and affection, if they’re forced to live with humans. Dogs have no problem with that, because they’ve been stripped of the evolutionary benefits they had as wolves so they could lie (lay?) at humans’ feet and often, have been specifically designed to fit in a one-bedroom apartment. Cats are still semi-wild, though humans are trying to steal their wildness, too.

      Sounds like your sister should clean out her kitty’s box, which the culprit in houses with cat smells. It’s not the cat, because they groom themselves, and cats exact revenge on humans who don’t clean their boxes. They are clean by nature. Alternatively, your sister can take her cat out to pee in publicly shared spaces, like the dog owners do. Dogs don’t do their business at home; they do it everywhere outside, where everyone has to live with it. Cats going out do often violate people’s yards, but I strongly believe cats shouldn’t go out, except on a leash, with their humans, just as I believe dogs shouldn’t be allowed to poop and piss in areas we all have to share.

      This means that homes of irresponsible dog owners don’t smell from urine or poop. But even so, many dog homes have a doggy smell that unless their owners are very diligent, is almost unbearable to endure — and this is not a poop smell. The problem, which is probably the same as your sister has, is that the person living with the animal is so used to it they don’t smell it. I’ve been to houses with dogs that I smelled before I even went inside. It was ghastly for about three minutes, then I didn’t notice it anymore.

      I also think it’s selfish and cruel to breed cats and dogs that have physical disadvantages to serve human emotional needs. Dogs that can’t breathe, because they have to look like cuddly wuddly toys, cats that have no hair so cat lovers who are allergic can own them. These genes get in the animals’ gene pools and they debilitate the species.

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  26. Why all the mixing? Get a nice unalloyed standard poodle. Elegant, smart and with training useful. Like picking up things you’ve dropped and putting them in your hand — no bending, no stooping. Like leaning quietly against you until she senses your oxytocin level has reached the saturation point. She and the cat, Georgie, who owned the household when Shadow, the poodle, arrived as a puppy, have come to terms and lie in the bed together with us — not the most comfortable arrangement, but hyggelig, as the Norwegians say. Shadow doesn’t shed and only smells of shampoo. Comes home after brief forays — we do live in the country — unlike our previous Siberian huskies, who are the aloof cats of the dog world. If you don’t want fawning affection or odor — and don’t mind copious shedding and the occasional pound fee when your Berkeley-based “animal companion” gets picked up in Hayward — get a beautiful, blue-eyed husky. But pure poodle, with a sensible haircut, is the most sensible choice.

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  27. Lovely, .. my imaginary designer dog knows how to poop in the toilet .. And flush, speak French and cooks a great omelet.

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  28. The best dog breed is No Dog. No Dog doesn’t yap and squeal relentlessly like the two misformed things next door have been doing non-stop for the past half-hour (and it’s worse when the owners are gone), drowning out my music. No Dog doesn’t consider the whole world its toilet, so that the tree in front of my house and my garage door will no longer smell like a porta-potty at a rock concert in Golden Gate Park, and the landfill won’t be filled with tons of dog shit. No Dog doesn’t stick its unauthorized nose in the private parts of humans who prefer that kind of activity with their own species. No Dog doesn’t bark with frustration because it can’t rip out the throat of every one who passes under its window. No Dog doesn’t bite because it doesn’t agree with your smell. No Dog isn’t dependent on anyone for its food, its hygiene, its love or its amusement. No Dog is independent, not a love slave or a bully.

    No Dog is a cat.

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      1. But I thought biodegradable stuff belongs in the compost, not the landfill. Isn’t that why it’s mandatory to use the green bins for organic waste (in SF, at least)? Doesn’t dogshit qualify as organic waste?
        in any case, according to a doggy information website I saw, dog waste belongs in the toilet bowl, not anywhere else, because apparently, it’s close enough to human excrement that it can be treated the same way. Still, there’s problems with that, too.
        Here’s a Live Science article by a dog owner who is concerned with dog shit and cat litter in the landfill. Interesting stats here. Dog poop is nastier than we thought, and they haven’t even addressed the piss problem:

        http://www.livescience.com/44732-eliminating-pet-poop-pollution.html

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  29. Pancho will run away from home or start peering on your rug. Designer dogs are bred while wonderful non breeds are killed in shelters every day. Just wrong!!
    Don’t back down Jon.

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  30. What fun reading your piece, and those of the commenters [tators] [taters]. We’ve had both cats and dogs. They take time, lots of time; and money, lots of money if you want to go fancy. And vets? Now I understand why so many of my students wanted to become vets. Main advantage of dogs? They suggest you drop the hubris and your devices and live. And they do teach, about birthing, and dying, and the normalcy of defecation and pissing and copulation. The yuk factor starts to fade once you take care of a critter. If you continue to have problems with the yuk factor you need to get rid of the pet and replace it with that stuffed thing; and it’s probably wise if you never venture off concrete or asphalt. Our experience? Critters return more than we give. Bruce the Bald

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Jon, I do not know what a David Brower and Edward Abbey moment of clarity is, and not having experienced an abundance of clarity, I am ready to sign up (possibly) for the education required to achieve it if it does not involve things like being trapped in a room for hours and denied access to a bathroom.
    Tom

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  32. I agree with Tracy. Dogs are wonderful — a different relationship than the one you have with Pancho. Try a new experience!

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  33. All the wise advice about the bother a dog naturally creates; walks in the rain, steaming bags, sitters and shedding are correct. And yet…. I once, as a die hard dog person, had a moment of clarity whilst driving over the bridge of the Americas accompanied by the young Irish Setter my loving spouse had presented to me a few months earlier.

    What a loving and generous thing this man, who had had cats all of his life, had done for love of me. And how small and mean was it of me to say “I shall never have a cat box in my house.”

    I picked him up from work that evening and took him to the shelter. Where he, full of gratitude, picked out a kitten so young as to be in real danger of not surviving the shelter experience. And promptly left me, with a young dog and a kitten for a three week business trip. May I point out a week old kitten must be fed every two hours? By bottle?

    Due to its startling resemblance to the cat who walks thru walls I named him Pixel.

    By the time my husband returned home the cat and the dog were best friends and I had mastered the management of the litter box. If you allow it, the dog will help you with that task also…

    Sometimes insurmountable objects diminish with proximity and familiarity. Unexpected pleasures materialize. Acquaintances with dogs become friends who exchange puppy sitting. It all works out.

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