News and insights from special guests—from experts to enthusiasts.
The plants and flowers we keep in our homes and gardens are lovely to look at. But dozens of common house and garden plants are actually deadly to dogs.
A study found that one in 12 pets has eaten poisonous plants, with smaller dogs and puppies being particularly at risk due to their size.
It’s no secret that foxgloves are poisonous, but did you know that daffodils can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even heart problems if consumed by your dog?
Use this infographic to correctly identify which plants are poisonous to your dog so you know which ones to keep your dog away from when out on a walk or in the garden. If you have family or friends this could help, please feel free to email them or pass it on by using the share buttons.
The owners of 2 well-loved terriers give care and affection to canine visitors to prepare them for their forever homes
This household of four — a couple and their two dogs — welcomes in new faces all the time. These new faces are local foster dogs who need a temporary place to stay until they find a forever home.
Pets at a Glance
Meet Chloe: She was Drew and Jenna Kutcher’s first dog, as well as their first interaction with the foster dog system. Chloe had been staying with a foster family until the couple could pick her up. Jenna could see how well loved Chloe had been, and that positive experience made her decide to keep in touch with the rescue shelter and get on its email list.
Meet Tucker: Soon, Jenna found herself signed up to foster a dog. “I committed us to our first foster experience, which ended up being a failure in that we kept him — that’s our dog Tucker,” she says.
Foster family: A year and a half later, a friend of Jenna’s started her own pet rescue. Jenna got involved and that’s when she started actually fostering dogs on a regular basis. Together, Drew, Jenna, Chloe and Tucker have become a temporary family to many young pups.
Welcome home: The Kutchers’ goal is to make every foster feel comfortable and safe in their home. To do this, Drew and Jenna carry around the pup in what they call a puppy sling. “We literally wear the dog on our bodies so they learn to trust us first, and it gives our two territorial pups a chance to adjust to the new family member,” Jenna says. They also keep the foster dog separate from Chloe and Tucker initially to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the new situation.
Short but sweet: Each foster dog stays with the Kutchers for anywhere from a week to a month. This foster dog, Frito, stayed for two weeks.
Office space: The foster dogs, such as Emma here, call Jenna’s office home. “It’s a warm, sunny spot in the house, and it’s more removed from our bedroom where our two dogs sleep,” she says. “Our dogs are pretty feisty and used to ruling the home, so it’s always a shock to them when a new dog arrives. Keeping the fosters in my warm office with the French doors closed allows us to bond with the new pup and give our dogs time to adjust to the new friend.”
Plus, the room has hardwood floors, which makes it easier to clean up any accidents.
On the job: Both Jenna and Drew work from home. She’s a photographer, podcaster and educator and he’s a personal health coach. Because they work from home, the dogs spend almost every minute with them and not much time in a crate. The dogs get to explore the couple’s 105-year-old Craftsman home; for Miguel, that meant climbing up on a chair.
“Most of the time we will spoil the fosters and let them snuggle in our laps while we type at our computers, but we try to make sure our two dogs don’t feel left out,” Jenna says. Here, Max rests a paw on the laptop, which might be more distracting than helpful, but that’s OK.
Favorite part of the workday:Walk (or run) time! Both the humans and the dogs eagerly step outside to stretch their legs. Jenna and Drew also love to listen to podcasts while they walk the dogs around the neighborhood.
Break time: “You’d be amazed at how much puppies sleep,” Jenna says. Emma takes a snooze in the middle of the carpet; she needs a long nap after her jog with Drew.
Jenna says they also have lots of little beds around the house for the dogs to sleep in.
Occasionally, the foster dogs hop into the couple’s bed and snuggle under the covers.
Off-limits: To keep everyone safe and the carpet clean, the Kutchers use child gates to block off stairs and any carpeted rooms. This also means that big puppy eyes are never too far out of sight.
Picture-perfect: Jenna captures these cute pet moments by making the dogs comfortable and offering lots of treats and love. Catching the puppies, such as Finn and Belvedere here, when they’re sleepy also helps.
Payment method: Treats, and especially rawhides, occupy the pups while they’re being photographed. Puppies have sharp teeth, and rawhides also help keep them away from furniture and shoes. “Luckily we haven’t lost any items,” Jenna says.
Sharing photos: Whenever a foster dog stays with the Kutchers, Jenna takes lots of photos and posts them online. “It helps them get adopted faster, which sometimes makes us sad,” she says. Jenna shed a few tears when this pup named Ruby left, but she knew she was going to a great family.
The joys of fostering: “It’s so fun to get to love on a pup and wait until they find their forever home,” Jenna says. “So many dogs are saved through fostering because it gives them that in-between space between getting rescued and being adopted. It also gives them the chance to live a normal life and get acclimated to what life with their forever family might be like! It’s always a zoo and a little crazy at first but it’s always, always worth it.”
Home, sweet temporary home: People often tell Jenna that they could never foster dogs because they would want to keep every one. Which Jenna understands, because she also wants to keep every one. “But when you foster you start to recognize the role that you play as a temporary mom or dad to the pup and you can love on them until they find the right family,” Jenna says. Watching that gratifying transition over and over has made it possible to keep fostering without keeping every pup that walks into the house. The couple enjoy the dogs while they can and then send them off to their next loving family.
Your turn: Have you fostered a pet? Did you make any special accommodations in your house for it? Share your story with us in the Comments.
Canine amenities include pet beds, crates, bowls, washing stations, doors and even a designated pet water bowl filler
As our lives revolve around our beloved critters more, we need to make space for them. If you have at least a medium-size laundry room, or a combined laundry room-mudroom, it’s prime real estate for dog needs. Pet-washing stations can also double as a place to rinse off muddy boots and rinse out laundry. And if well-planned, these rooms can also provide space for pet beds and crates, food and treats, toys and leashes. See how some people are outfitting their laundry rooms to work for their dogs too.
Grooming. Pet washing stations can be quite handy, and the laundry is an ideal place for them. A dirty dog doesn’t make it past the mudroom before cleaning up, and they are also a good place to clean off muddy cleats and let snowy boots drip dry.
An elevated dog bath is a good option for those with bad backs and knees who have small to medium-sized dogs. It can also double as a utility sink. But the main reason I absolutely had to include this photo is because the dogs in the photo match the dogs on the wallpaper.
Beds and crates. Rather than lower cabinets, these built-ins incorporate a dog bed. Yellow and white stripes and beadboard make it a cheerful design asset as well.
The designers did a great job of maximizing this laundry room wall to fit in a pet washing station and bed.
These clever Murphy dog beds fit right in with the rest of the cabinetry, then flip down for nap time. Though narrowness doesn’t appear to be a problem in this laundry room, this is a clever solution for a tighter space. You can flip the dog bed up if you need the room to access a front-loading washer or dryer.
Built-in dog crates are another good option. Cabinetmakers can trick out cabinets to serve as dog crates for a seamless look.
Pet food. Keeping pet food close to where the pets eat makes mealtime easy. Laundry-mudrooms are often a convenient place to set this up.
The space under a utility sink is prime for a domesticated version of a trough. Pet bowls slip right into custom holes for easy filling. They stay in place rather than sliding all over the floor when a hungry dog is going to town on them.
Easy entering and exiting. This laundry room has a motorized pet door. The door opens when the pets wearing their power door collars want to go in and out, thanks to directional ultrasonic detection circuitry.
Electronic pet door: High Tech Pet
A metro Phoenix community college teacher’s civics assignment wound up helping create a law to aid dogs trapped in hot cars.
Debra Nolen, who teaches ethics, suggested her students find ways to help dogs left behind in locked vehicles.
“I wanted to find a topic for them to learn about civic engagement and social responsibility and this seemed perfect,’’ she said.
Complete newcomers to politics, students and teacher contacted Nolen’s state legislator, John Kavanagh, who had previously supported other animal-welfare laws. He agreed to sponsor their bill and other Arizona animal-rights groups got behind it.
Under the new law, someone who uses “reasonable force” to break into an unattended motor vehicle is not subject to civil damages if there’s a “good faith belief” a child or animal “is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death.”
Would-be rescuers must first notify police, medical personnel or, if needed, animal control officers. Then, after entering the vehicle, they must remain until responders arrive.
Previously, Arizona laws weren’t clear if a Good Samaritan could be sued for damaging property while rescuing a trapped animal.
Now, 29 states have some type of a “hot car” law on the books, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Laws vary; some make distinctions between domesticated animals versus livestock; some differentiate between law-enforcement personnel and citizen rescuers.
“In the last few years, there has been an explosion in the number of hot-car laws,’’ said Lora Dunn, director of the criminal justice program for the fund. “There’s greater awareness, people are getting involved and pushing their lawmakers.’’
But it’s not always easy.
Some Arizona legislators questioned why animals warranted the same expectation of protection as humans.
“I actually had one legislator describe pets as ‘chattel’,’’ Nolen said. “I had to tell him how so many people have sacrificed their own well-being on behalf of their pets.’’
Having Arizona’s governor talk up the legislation in his State of the State address helped push it past those ideological obstacles, Kavanagh said. Nolen’s participation too was key, he said. “She was a like a bulldog on this.’’
All part of the learning process, says Nolen. “My kids learned so much from this, how to be active in their communities for good. I look at them and think ‘these are tomorrow’s leaders’.’’
New legislation being introduced in New York could change the lives of dog loving low income New Yorkers dogs, and very likely the thousands of dogs in NYC area shelters and rescue organizations. New York State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, himself a rescued Pit Bull owner is spearheading legislation that would prevent landlords in public housing from discriminating against any specific breed of dog.
Currently, the New York City Housing Authority or NYCHA which manages the nations oldest and largest public housing program providing low income apartments to over 400,000 New Yorkers has had a breed specific ban in place since 2009. When that ban took effect 115 dogs, mostly Pit Bulls were surrendered to Animal Control, 49 of whom were euthanized. NYCHA housing as explained by the Mayor’s Alliance For NYC Animals “restricts specific breeds, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, either pure- or mixed-breed.” The breed ban actually impacts over twenty breeds (including some fairly rare ones) and dogs mixed of any of those breeds
Breeds and Breed Mixes Currently banned from NYCHA Housing: Akita Inu, Alangu Mastiff, Alano Español, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Argentine Dogo, Bedington Terrier, Boston Terrier, Bull and Terrier Bull Terrier, Bully Kutta, Cane Corso, Dogue de Bordeaux, Dogo Sardesco, English Mastiff, Fila Brasileiro, Gull Dong, GullTerr, Irish Staffordshire Bull, Korea Jindo Dog, Lottatore Brindisino, Neapolitan Mastiff, Perro de Presa Canario (Canary dog), Perro de Presa Mallorquin (Cade Bou), Shar Pei, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Tosa Inu
Assemblyman Zebrowski’s proposal will be discussed by the New York State Assembly’s Housing Committee in the coming weeks, and then will go before the full Assembly followed by the Senate. In an interview with ABC news Assemblyman Zebrowski said: “You can have no dogs, you can have a restriction on the number of dogs, you can have some sort of subjective criteria to evaluate the dog, make sure they are not dangerous…. You just can't banish all of one type of breed.”
Keep pets healthy with the right selection of indoor plants
When preparing to adopt our kitty, I learned from the folks at the rescue organization that a few of our houseplants were toxic to cats and dogs — and since this particular furry friend enjoys chomping on plants, it was vital we remove these from our home beforehand. (And even though some pets pay no attention to plants, it’s always better to be on the safe side.) But many of the most popular design-friendly houseplants, including split-leaf philodendron and fiddle-leaf fig, are toxic to cats and dogs. So what’s a design-loving pet owner to do? Live without houseplants? No way. We’ve found 10 cool houseplant options that are all nontoxic to cats and dogs.
1. Tillandsia. Air plants are tailor-made for modern spaces, and they need very little care. Because these petite plants don’t require soil, you can place them just about anywhere — on a piece of driftwood, in a seashell, in a hanging glass vessel. However, their small size can prove problematic if you have a nibbling pet: A lot of damage can be done to the plant in a short amount of time, so watch your pet and be prepared to move the plant out of reach if this becomes an issue.
2. Boston fern. Most true ferns are nontoxic to cats and dogs, including the classic Boston fern. This fern has lush, full foliage, is easy to care for and looks equally at home in traditional and modern spaces.
3. Staghorn fern. This unique plant has sculptural appeal when mounted on the wall and — major bonus for plant-chomping pets — can be kept up high and out of the way of those sharp little teeth. Cluster several on a wall and create your own living art installation.
4. Maidenhair fern. Delicate and romantic, the light-as-air foliage of a maidenhair fern is a beauty to behold. This plant is a bit fussier than most houseplants, preferring a humid environment (or frequent misting) to stay healthy. The ultra-tender leaves may be tempting for pets to nibble — and while it won’t harm your furry friend, the plant itself is quite fragile and can easily be destroyed by a curious cat. If you want to keep a maidenhair fern but it keeps getting chewed up, try placing it in a hanging planter.
5. Dwarf olive tree. Dwarf olive trees can do well indoors in a large pot with good drainage, but they do need a very sunny spot with at least six hours of full sun each day. If you live in a cool, cloudy region, it probably won’t thrive.
6. Rosemary. Like the olive, this is another attractive Mediterranean plant that will look right at home in interiors of any style. Grow a pot of fresh rosemary in a kitchen window and enjoy snipping fragrant sprigs to add to your cooking.
7. Ponytail palm. This wacky plant looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Ponytail palms are well suited to modern interiors — starting with a smaller plant is easier on the budget, and you can always transplant it into a larger pot as it grows. A full-size specimen makes a dramatic statement, as seen here.
8. Echeveria. This succulent has rosettes of leaves in shades that range from green to blue, depending on the variety. They do best in well-drained soil, in a spot that gets morning sun.
9. Orchid. With their elegant, long-lasting blooms, it’s no wonder that orchids are a decorator favorite. Thankfully, according to the ASPCA, phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids (two of the most popular varieties) are nontoxic to cats and dogs. Plant a single orchid or group several in one large vessel for more drama.
Note: Roses, also pictured here, are nontoxic to furry friends as well. So feel free to treat yourself to that bouquet!
10. Cat grass. Pets nibbling houseplants, even nontoxic varieties, can get tummy aches. For cats, you can encourage healthier green eats by planting a container of cat grass and placing it in an easily accessible spot. Not to be confused with catnip, which is in the mint family, cat grass will not give your cat the crazies. It’s usually grown from oat or wheat seed. If growing your own cat grass from seed, keep the container out of reach of your pet until the grass grows in, to protect the tender sprouts.
Tell us: Do your pets nibble the houseplants? Share your stories in the Comments.
A sport and lifestyle of spotting random dogs
First there was trainspotting, then planespotting, and now…dogspotting! Take an object that interests you – in our case, dogs – and turn it into a hobby by seeking as many different examples as possible, taking photos of them and sharing with other enthusiasts. A Facebook page called Dogspotting has become wildly popular. Members – currently over half a million - post photos of an incredible diversity of dogs in all sorts of situations from around the world. One can easily become lost scrolling through the photos, reading comments, smiling all the while.
There are rules for participating. In a nutshell: no photos of your own dog, or a dog you already know; no photos taken at dog parks, vet clinics or other “low hanging fruit” locations; no service dogs (they’re working, so leave them alone); no posing humans in the frame; and be nice to each other. If you have photos that break the rules but still want to share, there’s a sister page called Dogspotting Society where they’re allowed. There’s also a Dogspotting phone app.
The site has generated its own dogspotting lingo. Some common words include: doggo = dog; sploot = dog lying with all legs splayed; pupper = puppy; floof = especially fluffy dog; cloud = white fluffy dog (usually a Samoyed); mlem = dog’s tongue is licking its muzzle in photo. The lingo and photo descriptions (e.g. describing a bulldog puppy as a giant wrinkle) are half the fun. There’s also a point system, with higher points awarded for spots of unusual dogs or situations, for example a dog carrying its own leash, or a wild canid (fox, coyote, or wolf), “the most noble of all spots.” Links for the rules, the points system, and frequently asked questions are available on the page.
This is a hobby most easily indulged in a city or urban area where seeing “strange” dogs on streets or in cafes is common and photographing them easy. For those of us living in the country, spotting a wild canid is a challenge worth embracing. Visit the page, but be warned, it’s a time sink! It’s difficult to avoid scrolling through the photos and reading a few comments for each. Initially, that’s time well-invested before posting your first spot as you’ll see site administrators chiming in on rule-violating posts, gently reminding the poster that sister site Dogspotting Society is the appropriate place for their photo.
The wide variety of dogs and settings in the photos and the accompanying comments are wonderful antidotes to life’s daily stresses. Just don’t forget to take your own dog out for a stroll – maybe a stranger will post a photo of her on Dogspotting.
Playing in a Brooklyn park turned to heartbreak when Laura Stephen’s dog Ziggy was shot twice, and killed by NYPD officers. Ziggy a rescued mixed breed was playing off leash in the Saratoga Park in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn on Sunday as they did every evening. Two officers entered the park, Stephen explained to news outlets that one asked her to leash her dog, and when she called Ziggy he turned towards her and an NYPD officer pulled out his gun and fired two shots. The officer claims that Ziggy lunged at him, and so feeling threatened, he shot the dog. Stephen says Ziggy never lunged, and was more than 10 feet away from the officer on his way back to her when shot. Neighbors told news outlets that Ziggy was very friendly and never aggressive.
Stephen didn’t have her wallet or phone so borrowed another parkgoers phone to call her son. When her son arrived with her belongings he rushed to his mother and her dog but was thrown against a tree, and arrested by NYPD officers for disorderly conduct. Meanwhile Ziggy was bleeding surrounded by 30-40 police officers who arrived on the scene. Stephen used snow and her coat to try and stop the bleeding from the gunshot wounds.
Police on the scene Sunday night (via gothamist.com)
An hour after being shot NYPD transported Stephen and Ziggy to an emergency veterinary hospital. Despite receiving a blood transfusion Ziggy died. NYPD officials arrived at the veterinary clinic and issued a criminal summons to Stephen for having her dog off leash.
Keep your dog (and cat!) feeling safe and in high spirits, and you'll all feel more at peace.
Being around nonthreatening animals, domesticated or otherwise, calms humans. The reason for this seems buried in our prehistory: Back then if we were around other creatures and all was peaceful, that meant predators weren't lurking nearby, about to pounce on us. Plus, the weather was probably fine, too.
When we're less tense, we have more mental energy at our disposal to do whatever we've set out to accomplish, whether that's having a good time hanging out with family members, writing a novel or planning dinners for the next week. But there's a catch: Having animals in our home is good for us psychologically only if those animals are happy and healthy. If they're not, they add to the tension in our lives. (A moping dog or an out-of-sorts cat doesn't enhance anyone's day.)
The good news is that design can make animals happier, just as it can people. You can create a home where your pets feel as good as you do. It's hard to read the minds of pets, but when you learn more about them as they spend time in your home, you'll find ways that you can make your special animal friend feel particularly happy. Here are just a few ways to keep pets in good spirits.
1. Some privacy, please! Make sure your pet has privacy. Cats feel most comfortable in their litter boxes if they're in a space all their own.
Dogs may need a place in your home where they can get away from demanding children or loud music, too. A covered kennel, doghouse or bed in a laundry room might be just the thing.
2. Create sheltered spaces for pets to lounge in. Pets need places where they can decompress, just as you do. Those areas don't always need to be completely away from humans, however. Our pets are social but good at self-preservation, just like we are.
Most animals, including humans, feel secure when danger can't sneak up on them. While in today's world that's not as likely as thousands of years ago, we're still hardwired to think that way.
So providing a secure spot where a pet can really let down his or her guard is important. This feline feels at peace because the chair has a high back and is in a corner, assuring the cat that nothing's going to sneak up. Provide that security and you'll have a calm, happy pet.
3. Build in a view. Pets need to survey their territory. Being able to look out the window while relaxing, as dogs and cats can do on this cushioned shelf, is doubly desirable.
If you don't have high windows, consider putting a secure pet gate on an opened door that leads outside.
4. Let in sounds and scents. Animals rely on smells and sounds more than humans do. To let them feel safe, having open windows allows them to hear and smell what's lurking in their surroundings.
5. Include places for exercising. Cats enjoy climbing on cat trees, shelves, furniture, anything that allows movement and elevates them off the floor. Small dogs enjoy being able to run down long halls without slipping and sliding, so add carpeting when possible.
6. Support aging pets. As pets get older, their needs change, just as humans' do. Recognizing those changes will prolong the positive relationship you have with your pet.
Dogs' joints, like ours, stiffen up when they get older. Senior dogs enjoy eating from a bowl placed on a stand or short bench that raises the bowl high enough above the floor so they can eat in a regular standing posture — no need to lower the front part of the body or head too much.
Your turn: What is your pet's favorite place in your house?
Save your sanity and your decorating budget by choosing materials and surfaces that can stand up to the test.
It’s a common situation for pet owners and parents alike: You buy a brand-new couch thinking you’ve purchased a truly indestructible piece of furniture, only to watch it be destroyed within a matter of months by your pet or child. It’s enough to make you feel like you’ll never be able to rectify your love for your family members, furry or not, with your yearning to create a beautiful home. Not to mention the pain it inflicts on your bank account.
There are a few simple things animal lovers can do to keep pets from damaging their homes. Accidents aside, most scratches and bite marks happen because of boredom. Scratching posts, chew toys, basic pet training and plenty of outdoor playtime will go a long way toward keeping your pet happy and your furnishings unscathed. Most dog trainers also recommend creating a comfortable enclosure for young pups, because this helps with house training and keeps them from chewing on dangerous objects.
Still, a surprising amount of damage can occur whenever you turn your back for a few seconds. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for selecting finishes that survive pet- and child-related wear and tear.
Love it: Leather
Accidents and spills wipe up with ease on the only furniture material that looks better with wear. But while leather is great for homes with dogs and children, cat lovers may want to avoid it, as there’s no way to repair a shredded leather couch.
If leather isn’t in your budget, consider microsuede. This ingenious, durable fabric wipes clean with a damp cloth, so you can easily deal with even the muddiest paws.
Leave it: Hide rugs
Not only can spills and pet stains permanently mar it, but some dogs have trouble distinguishing a hide rug from their rawhide chew. It’s also a no-no in high-traffic areas, as the hair thins with wear.
Love it: Concrete paving
Available in just about every size and at many price points, pavers are a great way to create a playspace for kids and pets that always looks neat. Set them flush so kids can enjoy bikes and push toys, or leave a gap of a few inches and add plantings, as in this photo, to create a greener look.
Just be sure to ask your installer about sealing. Pavers can become stained by dirt and standing water over time.
Leave it: Gravel
Unless you’d like to embark upon a second career as a gravel sweeper, this is one to avoid. While gravel certainly goes a long way toward forgoing a pet-stained lawn, even larger pebbles can get kicked up during playtime, dinging your doors, getting caught in the slats of your deck and getting caught in paws and shoes, which inevitably leads to damage to indoor flooring.
Love it: Ceasarstone
This gorgeous quartz countertop has the look and feel of granite without the worry of chipping and scratching, making it perfect for junior sous chefs. Waterfall-edge details are also great in areas that need to be protected against particularly rambunctious pups or aggressive chewers.
Leave it: Hardwood
I know, I know. This is a tough one. But with pets and kids, you’re almost guaranteed to have to resand hardwood floors at some point.
If hardwood floors are a must in your home, be sure to keep your dog’s nails short and to clean up spilled liquids and pet accidents promptly. This can go a long way toward extending your hardwood floor’s longevity.
Love it: Ornamental grass
Hardy grasses are a great way to incorporate greenery without worrying about Fido staining it or digging it up. And as a bonus, you’ll never spend another Saturday mowing the lawn.
Looking for a more traditional alternative? Wide-leaved fescue and rye hold up better to traffic and are more resistant to the chemicals in dog urine that can cause spotting.
Leave it: Cedar decking
While it can be absolutely stunning, cedar can be easily marred by dog nails, snow shovels and active children.
Love it: Faux turf
Gone are the days when installing synthetic grass meant transforming your lawn into something resembling a hokey mini golf course. The new turfs are more realistic and just as durable.
This homeowner made the synthetic grass look even more realistic by keeping the turf area small and breaking it up with other finishes.
Leave it: Microtopped concrete
The luster and depth of a concrete microtopping is surely covetable, but it’s not great in houses with big dogs or rambunctious children. Daily traffic can create deep scratches that aren’t erased by the regular resealing this finish requires.
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