Blog Posts – Free Training Advice

Migraine Alert Dog Training Could Prevent Brain Damage

We cant wait to help you prevent migraines from robbing you of your quality of life on this planet with the use of a trained Migraine Alert Dog – Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS

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St. Louis Missouri Classes Teaching Migraine Alert Dog Training

Use the power of your dogs nose to save you from misery and suffering from a Migraine!

Unfortunately Im sitting here at my desk about ready to hurl. My eyes are slightly light sensitive and I appear to have developed a heartbeat in my throbbing head. What’s wrong with me you ask? Is your blood sugar low? Unfortunately not. It a migraine.

Ive had them since freshman year in college. It starts out with a flash in my vision and within about 30 minutes Ive had a psychedelic aura eye trip that resembles a moving rainbow in a 1960s music video. Thankfully my aura only leaves me temporarily blind but I know the MOMENT I see the first signs of an aura I have less than thirty minutes to get the medication in me that could save my entire day. Its the difference between feeling blah or spending then entire day in my room waiting to hurl, with a eye mask blocking out all the light while someone repeatedly stabs an ice pick into my left temple.

Historically migraines were thought of as just a nuisance. But modern science now knows what migraine suffers have been telling them for years, these are no ordinary headaches. Migraines are not just headaches, they are brain aches. Scientists and medical professionals now know that migraines permanently alter the brain causing white matter abnormalities. Just like transient mini-strokes, migraines literally starve the brain of life sustaining oxygen.

So, what’s a migraine sufferer to do? Train their dog to alert them PRIOR to the start of a migraine in our Intensive 4 Day Medical Alert Dog Training Class on the border of Missouri and Illinois!

There is a rumor online that seizure alert dogs and migraine alert dogs cannot be trained to alert, that they have to come by their alert naturally. This is an old mindset that isnt based in modern medical alert dog training. Although my personal service dog Liame came about his migraine alerting ability naturally, we know that with proper training, dogs can be trained to alert you sometimes up to 30 minutes prior to your migraine so you can get your migraine medicine in your system quickly. And as any of you migraine sufferers know, taking your medication as early as possible can make the difference between a no pain day and an emergency room visit level 10 pain day.

Not only are migraine alert dogs valuable for symptom relief but its possible that getting your medication in prior to the start of the episode may reduce the level of brain damage done by your migraine episode.

Want to learn how to get your dog to alert to an oncoming migraine? You can do so in our 4 Day Intensive Diabetic Alert Dog Class or by using our online video program Diabetic Alert Dog University. We know that the name of the class and online video program is confusing because it sounds like all the class teaches is diabetic alert but in reality all you have to do is replace the words Diabetic Alert Scent Sample with the term Migraine Alert Scent Sample. Its literally as simple as that!

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The photo above is one of our first migraine alert dogs. He is a Yorkshire Terrier named Cracker Jack and was trained OVER 3 years ago! Although Service Dog Academy’s main mission is diabetic alert, we use the same training techniques used to train diabetic alert dogs as we do for seizure and migraine alert dogs.

Within the month, Service Dog Academy will be adding an additional Seattle 4 Day Intensive Diabetic Alert Dog Training Class scheduled for mid September 2014. Please forward this article to anyone you know who you think might be interested in managing their migraines with the use of an alert dog.

We cant wait to help you prevent migraines from robbing you of your quality of life on this planet!

How To Make Your Own Diabetic Alert Dog Training Scent Wheel

A few of you had some interest in the scent wheel I brought into class. I have decided to add an additional bonus to your Diabetic Alert Dog Training Program by providing you with all the information you will need to create yourself a scent wheel. Scent Wheels can increase pavlovian responses and drive to search in your dog. Its also a great way to test whether or not your dog is actually responding to your low blood sugar scent or to the smell of your food.

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Supplies You Will Need To Make Your Diabetic Alert Class Scent Wheel:

1. Solid wood circular cutout (the one in the photo is about 18 inches in diameter)
2. Drill
3. Phillips drill head
4. Small drill bit
5. Tape measure
6. Lazy Susan
7. 16 – 3/8 inch or smaller screws (anything longer and you might pierce through the wooden board)
8. 6 scent sample containers
9. 6 dog food cans that are all of the same size, brand and type of food
10. Goo Gone goo remover
11. Rubber gloves
12. Towel or rags

Instructions For Making A Diabetes Alert Dog Trainer Training Scent Wheel

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Step 1. Clean the left over glue that held the label onto the can with the goo remover and towel/rag. You dont have to use the rubber gloves but I do because I am very scent sensitive.
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Step 2. Place the lazy susan into the center of the board and screw it down with 4 of your screws
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Step 3. Drill 2 holes into the bottoms of each can
Step 4. Mark out six equidistant spots on the top side of the wooden board for placement of the cans
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Step 5. Use the screws to secure the cans, one by one, onto the wooden board
Step 6. Drill 2-5 holes in the top of the 6 sample containers (the ones from Week 1s video) all in the same location on each container top.
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Step 7. Start using your scent wheel with only one scent sample container inside the cans. Click and reward your dog for putting their nose near the scent sample container.
Step 8. Once your dog is proficient with finding the diabetic alert scent sample container in only 1 can, add another scent container to your scent wheel that has just cotton in it. Click and reward your dog for finding the container with the scent sample in it.
Step 9. Repeat step 8 until you have a dog who can find the one low blood sugar scent sample from among the 6 containers
Step 10. Repeat step 9 about 30 times, then move onto getting your dog to locate the low blood sugar sample among the 5 remaining containers that have cotton that is soaked in normal blood sugar spit.

Diabetic Alert Dog Puppy Training – Preventing Guarding Or Growling Around Toys And Bones

Train Your Service Dog / Pet Dog or Diabetic Alert Dog To Never Guard Bones

Service dogs need to be completely safe around other dogs and humans. They need to think that no matter who approaches them when they have something in their mouth, be it a two year old child, an autistic adult or even another dog, that there is never a need to guard anything. Watch our free youtube video on how we teach both pet dogs and service dogs to never guard anything.

Our advice is so highly esteemed by training professionals and breeders across the country that this article was recently featured on Labradors.com, a website with over 800,000 members!

Medical Alert Service Dog Training Advice For Free For Pet Dogs

This technique is very useful for diabetic alert dogs, seizure alert dogs, narcolepsy alert dogs and even migraine alert dogs. Our labrador puppies in training for diabetic alert, Luke and Leia, show you how easy it is to teach a dog that guarding is pointless. Humans rule because they never take stuff away from you!

World Diabetes Day

Diabetes Symptoms Can Go Unnoticed

Diabetes can often go undiagnosed because the symptoms seem harmless. According to the Center for Disease Control, around 20 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, and roughy 7 million more are undiagnosed. World Diabetes Day on November 14th as part of Diabetes Awareness month is set aside to recognize the symptoms and talk about this disease that adversely affects so many lives.

Symptoms for Type 1 can be hard to spot, which is why so many people go undiagnosed, but the complications can be much worse, even deadly. Complications to untreated type 1 or type 2 diabetes include glaucoma, skin infections, hypertension, heart disease, nerve damage, and stroke.

Diabetic Alert Dogs, a Tool for Success

In the meantime, there are several tools a person can use to manage their diabetes, but one interesting way is through the use of a service dog. A dog’s nose contains more than 225 million scent receptors, able to pick up on the slightest variation in smells – biochemical changes in your body is one of them. Trainers all over the United States have been trying to harness this ability to help diabetics stay on top of blood sugar fluctuations. This can be totally lifesaving to children with diabetes and the elderly who may not be able to pick up on the physical changes brought on by a blood sugar crash, and brittle diabetics whose sugar can be normal one minute and suddenly crash within seconds. These amazing dogs take highly specialized training and years to become fully trained, and the price tag for a diabetic’s best friend can be upwards of $20,000. Maggie, a chocolate Lab from Service Dog Academy right here in Seattle is one such lifesaver, and may be the solution to someone without the time or energy to train their own.

Train Your Own Diabetic Alert Dog

Training your own dog is an alternative to those without such deep pockets. Service Dog Academy pioneered the concept in 2008, and students at the West Seattle dog training studio have been doing the work themselves and get quite a bargain for something so priceless. They can train for Type 1, Type 2, Hypoglycemia, or pre-diabetes which can be a bigger lifesaver at managing something before it gets worse.

Our students seek out their own dog, either from a breeder or in some rare cases, adopt from a shelter. Then, they go to classes, learn from Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, BGS and go home and practice the training every single day. It’s a lot of hard work, but the payoff can be even bigger than having a ready-made service dog. Jeff, a client since last year, trained Cooper, an adorable 11-month old yellow Lab, says he and his family do the training together, and it has brought them all closer because of it.

In honor of Diabetes Awareness Day, take a look at the symptoms below and visit the American Diabetes Association to learn about the complications from untreated diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability
  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
  • Classes for Pet Dogs, Too!

    If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, we highly encourage you do visit your doctor and get tested. For more information on Service Dog Academy’s diabetic alert dog training program, or Maggie, who is an already trained diabetic alert dog soon to be available for purchase email info@servicedogacademy.com. We also use our strict positive reinforcement training methods to train pet dogs, too! If you like what you see, but don’t need service dog training, we offer an array of obedience classes to suit your needs. Who wouldn’t want a pet dog with service dog manners? Check out the class schedule today!

    Your Dog Prefers to Work for Food. Here’s the Proof!

    Rondo gets food from his Premier Twist 'n' Treat

    Work to Eat: The Foundation of our Training

    If you’re familiar with Service Dog Academy’s training program, you know we can’t express enough how much we love work-to-eat puzzles. For puppies and adult dogs, and even older dog training, Service Dog Academy’s work to eat program creates more than just a smarter dog, but a happy one, too! At our Seattle dog training classes, we preach the work-to-eat strategy for many good reasons, but one scientific study found that animals actually prefer to work for their food!

    In the 1960′s Glen Jensen discovered that when given the choice between free food laid out in a dish, or performing a task to receive bits of food at a time, most animals chose the latter. Using 200 albino rats, Jensen gave the rats a regular feeding time for 10 straight days. On the 11th day, Jensen didn’t show up with food and the rats were ravenous.

    When they paced their cages in a state of hunger and desperation, they accidentally bumped into a feeding tube. When this happened, food pellets came out. Over time, they learned that all they had to do was push a lever and would automatically get fed. When they got used to this process, they were given a choice. Both a cup of free food, and access to the lever. Contrary to what most might think about such small-brained animals, the rats chose the feeding lever!

    Later experiments showed that this worked on most animals from fish, to gerbils, to monkeys. The only lazy ones in the bunch, Jensen found, were cats. You can read the full article here.

    Manage your Dog’s Boredom, and Get a Smarter Pup

    Service Dog Academy’s positive reinforcement training methods are set in creating an environment for your dog where nothing in life is free. Hold a sit for 5-seconds and get some food; shake on command, more food, and many other ways to create a real life work-to-eat strategy. Puzzles, and positive reinforcement training are a great way for your pup to manage his frustration tolerance, boredom, and create an improvisational dog, a thinking dog. Positive reinforcement training, and puzzles like the Premier “Linkable” or the Kong, are also the foundation to Service Dog Academy’s groundbreaking diabetic alert service dog training program. Follow the link to learn how to make a quick and easy toy that feeds your dog, and occupies his brain and nose at the same time, the Kongsicle!

    Advice on Puppy Manners: Taking Treats Nicely

    It’s not a Trick, Just Good Puppy Manners: How to Train your Puppy to Take Treats Nicely

    Do you have “Jaws” in your home? When you reward your puppy or adult dog with kibble, do they tend to bite the fingers attached to it, too?

    In this video, Maggie, our very special diabetic alert dog in training and Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, BGS show you how to get your puppy to lick your fingers to get to her treats instead of chomping at them. In order to promote the best manners in your puppy, you must feed your puppy kibble by hand, not from a bowl. Do this consistently, and your shark will turn back into the puppy you know and love.

    Maggie, the Diabetic Alert Puppy

    Maggie is training to be someone’s very special diabetic alert dog. At Service Dog Academy we offer several ways to obtain a diabetic alert dog, from training your own pet dog, board and train, or if you can’t take the time to train your pup the initial scent detection and alerting, we understand. That’s where Maggie comes in. For more information on Maggie and our already trained dog program click here.

    Dog Obedience Classes in Seattle

    You can get more tips and tricks on dog and puppy training like this one by enrolling in any of our pet dog training classes right here in West Seattle. We offer basic obedience for puppies and adult dogs, or have fun learning party tricks, or refine your dogs manners and make it official with the Canine Good Citizen certification. The small class sizes mean you can work closely with our trainers, and get one-on-one attention and personalized dog training advice whether you and Fido learn the basics, or are training to alert to your medical condition!

    Pet Puppy Socialization: The Service Dog Way Pt. 2

    How do you get a fearless dog? By great socialization training, of course! Socialization is a not only a key component of a well-behaved service dog, it’s important for pet dogs, too! In fact, the number one reason dogs end up in shelters is under socialization.

    Socializing Puppies: The Service Dog Way

    To show how awesome well-socialized puppies can be, watch how two of our board and train pups, Cooper and Daisy, handle themselves around emergency personnel during a critical stage in their development.

    Mary McNeight, with the help of fireman Andy from Engine 32, and a bag of treats, proceeded to get Daisy and Cooper used to his big uniform and funny hat. They didn’t seem phased at all in part thanks to the positive reinforcement training and socialization they received in Service Dog Academy pet puppy classes.

    Next, we visited the Southwest Precinct of the Seattle Police Department, and gave officers Andy Bass and Buzzy the same opportunity to greet and treat the pups. Hopefully, as Cooper and Daisy grow up to be reliable diabetic alert service dogs they wont have to meet again, but just in case emergency personnel do show up in response to their owners’ medical issue, Cooper and Daisy will have had a positive association with these men in uniform.

    Do you want your puppy to be as well-socialized as a service dog? Don’t have the time or energy to make sure your puppy gets the exercise he or she needs? Then, Puppy Day Camp is your answer!

    Service Dog Academy will soon open its studio space for your puppy to get the ultimate socialization and training experience. Puppy Day Camp will run from 7:30am-11:30am Monday through Thursday. Drop off your pup in the morning, run some errands, go to work, or just sit back and relax while our professional dog trainers on staff work on basic obedience and supervise play sessions with a small group of pups. Come back a few hours later to a worn-out, happy, better socialized puppy! The cost is $269 for four days of camp. Email info@servicedogacademy.com for more information and keep checking the website for official start dates!

    Service dogs as well as pet dogs should never display traits of fear, aggression, or reactivity, so to avoid this, it’s crucial for puppies between the ages for 7 weeks and 3 months to be socialized to many different situations and people. The Service Dog Academy also offers pet puppy classes that are designed for setting a foundation for socialization during this critical time, whether training your puppy good manners, or the American Diabetes Association recognized diabetic alert, migraine alert, seizures, or another type of service work. Service Dog Academy classes also cater to adult dog basic obedience, and advanced dog training classes at the dog training studio located in West Seattle.

    With so many options to choose from for your pet puppy, you’ll have a fearless, happy dog, in no time!

    Groundbreaking Workshop Making D.A.Ds Possible

    Diabetic Alert Dogs from Oregon to Illinois

    Something incredible happened over Labor Day Weekend. Diabetics from all over the U.S. traveled to Service Dog Academy’s training studio in West Seattle and participated in the first-ever intensive diabetic alert dog program. No longer is the hope of a diabetic alert dog, and the possibility of a more independent life with diabetes limited to just a few lucky parts of the country. With the combination of the Diabetic Alert Dog University online training videos and 4-days of concentrated in-person learning, hard-working diabetics from Oregon, Texas, California, and Illinois learned the techniques to train their own well-mannered pet dogs to be their diabetic alert service dog.

    Professional Dog Training in Seattle

    “There are a lot of people posing as diabetic assist trainers and I was the victim of one here in Oregon. Mary was a total breath of fresh air for us and a saving grace.”

    One particular student, Pam, admitted she had tried a program like this before and was severely disappointed. Because of this bad experience, she was a bit skeptical at first. She had previously taken her dog to a trainer in Forest Grove, Oregon – which turned out to be a “miserable failure.” The class was too big to receive any individualized attention and the not all the dogs in the class had service-dog type manners.

    “Mary is like a breath of sunshine after a stormy stormy winter.  She exudes a level of enthusiasm that is infectious.  Her love of teaching and training is evident in everything she does.”

    It’s no mistake that Service Dog Academy class sizes are kept small. We need it in order to give dogs and their owners the observation and attention they need to be successful at this advanced level of training. True, you can’t make a big profit by limiting the number of people you can cram into a room, in fact, Mary hasn’t seen a “paycheck” in years. However, Mary’s goal is to give to the community, to help diabetics as far as she can reach them. The money we make keeps the program alive, keeps our trainers up-to-date on the latest in training, a studio space to train in, and pay the wonderful staff that keeps things running smoothly.

    Lifesaving Diabetic Alert Dogs

    “There are so many type 2 diabetics in their senior years that suffer severe complications of long term exposure to type 2 diabetes and experience a loss of sensation for low blood sugar awareness.  For me, I have not slept the night through in several years…. I check my sugars 7-10 times daily.  I take my insulin at 11:30  and recheck between 2 AND 3 AM.  I then eat a snack if low or take insulin if high. I play this game again between 6-7 am. I do this 7 days a week day in and day out.  If I can sleep thru the night even two days a week I will be yards ahead of where I am now.”

    Pam is a brittle diabetic who has not slept through the night in over 2 years because of unstable blood sugars. So, she did her homework and adopted a Border Collie with a stable temperament who would help her manage her blood sugar imbalances. Pam and JuneBug also show us a great example of how shelter dogs can be well-mannered, and trained, too. After the 4-day intensive training, Pam took JuneBug back to the humane society where she adopted her last February. They came back just to show how far June had come since the adoption, looking great and well-behaved, and donning her Canine Good Citizen certification.

    Pet Dog Training Supports the Lifesaving Program

    The labor of love that is diabetic alert dog training for Mary McNeight has seen many ups and downs, but the stories from the students we reach are priceless. None of which could be possible without the hard work and dedication of diabetics who want to train their own dogs, as well as Service Dog Academy’s pet dog training program. To help support our low-cost diabetic alert dog program enroll in any one of our pet dog obedience classes for puppies or adult dogs over 17-weeks-old. Whether you want to cover the basics, or have fun learning new party tricks, there are several classes to suit you and your canine companion’s training needs. Enroll today, and get on the fast track to the best-behaved dog in town and help people with disabilities.

    Liame Recognized as ‘Hero’ by PAWS

    Best Award Winning Dog Training Classes in Seattle

    Liame and Mary McNeight with the other PAWS award winners.

    Liame’s hard work over the years has paid off! On May 19th, professional positive reinforcement dog trainer Mary McNeight’s 4-year old yellow Lab walked the red carpet to receive a plaque for his outstanding service to the community at the annual PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap Spotlight on Community Hero Pets ‘Hero Dog Awards!

    Liame’s very existence fueled Mary’s passion for dog training, and inspired the creation of the Service Dog Academy. The all-positive reinforcement pet puppy, pet dog, and service dog training studio has helped more than 525 dogs be well-mannered, well-behaved and even lifesaving medical alert dogs. Thanks to Liame, more people with disabilities in the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle area are empowered to live more independent lives through the use of a service dog. Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, BGS spent countless hours working toward getting her Canine Studies Degree, and went to six hours of puppy classes per week with Liame in order to become a certified professional dog trainer, and the Northwest’s leading resource for diabetic alert dog training for type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and hypoglycemia.

    Through Mary’s positive reinforcement dog training methods, Liame is also a very persistent diabetic alert dog. His powerful nose has detected low blood sugar in people who didn’t even know they were hypoglycemic! His success in alerting has paved the way to make Service Dog Academy a reliable source for anyone who wants to train their own dogs for diabetic alert, seizure alert, migraine alert, and now because of Liame and Mary’s dedication to medical alert training, the world’s first narcolepsy alert program!

    The theme of the the Spotlight on PAWS benefit and dinner auction at the lovely Wing Point Golf and Country Club on Bainbridge Island was “People Helping Pets and Pets Helping People.” We couldn’t agree more! Surrounded by a beautiful landscape, guests at the event had the opportunity to bid on a myriad of donated goodies from local businesses and artists, and meet the six amazing animals who, like Liame in the “service animal” category, demonstrated the strong bond of companionship between animals and their humans.

    Among the winners of each category was Amber, a drug and arson detection dog who was responsible for the seizure of over 60 pieces of drug paraphernalia, and more than 1300 grams of marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine combined. Kitty, a dog who averages more than 20 hours per week visiting hospitals, prisons, troubled high school students, and the elderly, providing therapy and comfort, Romeo a search and rescue Schnauzer who helped local police track down a missing Alzheimer’s patient, and even a cat named Cheeto who acts as a decoy cat to help train search and rescue dogs to find missing find cats for the Missing Pet Partnership!

    We were surrounded by animal lovers, as the event was in support of the PAWS that without any government funding advocates, educates, and provides services for the health and well-being of pets and the companionship with their people. They offer adoptions, spay/neuter assistance, lost and found, financial assistance for veterinary care, and operate programs like Pets and Loving Pals, and the Buddy Brigade.

    We know about trying to run an organization without government subsidies, so we were excited to be included with PAWS and the generous donors who support them. Service Dog Academy’s low-cost medical alert dog training program wouldn’t be possible without funding from our pert dog training. Pet puppy training, and adult dog basic obedience positive reinforcement training classes are a not just a great way to train your puppy or dog with service dog training techniques for the best-behaved dog in town, but it keeps Service Dog Academy’s groundbreaking service dog training program afloat! Liame may have been the “hero” on May 19th, but the real hero is each and every one of our students who come to train at Service Dog Academy!

    If you would like to experience our award winning dog training classes please visit our classes page for more info.

    Animal Planet “Dogs 101″ Program Fails To Educate Public On Family Dogs Pre Biting Behavior

    Has anyone seen the cute “Best Family Dog” episode of Dogs 101 on Animal Planet? Cute Labrador Retrievers, Cute Goldens, Cute dogs all around. But did anyone happen to notice the PUGGLE almost BITE the child about 5 minutes into the program? This illustrates how clueless most people are about dog behavior and dogs protracted warning signs (signs dogs give off before they attack/bite).

    Someone royally failed over in the editing bay on this program. They obviously did not have a dog expert help them edit the show.

    What does a dog training expert like Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS see in this scene? Child goes in for a kiss, dog freezes, ears of the dog goes back, dog stares at child, dog starts to snarl, child pulls away, dog snaps at child almost making contact on both hands of the child. Had that child pulled away a second less that Puggle would have bitten him. Animal Planet, indeed, what a “great” “family dog” that Puggle was!

    We have to make television shows more accountable for the dog advice they give on television. Until I watched this clip I thought the world of Animal Planet and their dog advice because of worldwide wonder Victoria Stilwell. But if Animal Planet cant even edit a dog almost attacking a child out of its “family dog” program what else are they doing wrong?

    Watch the video above to find out how eerily similar the dogs warning signs are to the dog attack video of worldwide famed reporter Kyle Dyer. About 23 seconds into the clip the dogs is lip licking, ears are back, the dog freezes, gives a glare, snarls and then bites.

    If you dog starts to show ANY ONE of these signs, move away from them as fast as possible or else…


    WARNING – This clip shows a dog mauling the face of a reporter.

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