Category: Dog’s Coach

Things to Consider When Looking For a Pet Sitter

Not only does the sitter have the responsibility of caring for your beloved pet, they also have full access to your home.  You need feel comfortable and confident that the sitter will take care of your pet the way you want them taken care of and someone you can trust in your home.

You should look for a professional, qualified sitter who carries commercial liability insurance specific to pet sitting.  This means they have invested in their business by taking steps to ensure they have liability insurance to cover accidents and negligence, and are bonded.

References are a great way to determine if the sitter is a good fit for you and your pet.  Most sitters provide on-line testimonials to review, but go even one step further and request to have references provided and actually call them.  You can do this before you even meet with the sitter for the consultation.

Some sitters don’t like it if potential clients interview more than one pet sitting service – I don’t think it’s a bad idea – you need to make sure that you and your pet are comfortable with the sitter you hire.

Monty in his bed

Have the sitters taken Pet First Aid and CPR Training?  You’ll want to ensure that anyone taking care of your pets has this training.  It provides them the knowledge they need to respond to any immediate basic medical emergency needs and determine if your pet needs further veterinary care.

Does the company do an in-depth consultation with you in regards to your pet and their needs such a special dietary needs, medication and how your pet reacts will react in specific situations.  They should also be asking what your pet loves to do for fun, do they like to be snuggled and cuddled, tummy rubs etc.?  A professional will have the experience to tailor their visits to meet the needs of your pets so they are happy and content while you’re away.  Which means that you can be happy and content to go on vacation or business trips!

Do they have a back-up plan in place should your sitter become ill?

Do they provide you with information about the company, themselves, their sitters and the fee structure?

Can you contact them easily while you’re away?  Will they send you texts, emails and photos of your pets?

It’s really worth your while to plan ahead and spend some time doing the above well in advance of the need for a sitter.

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Why Does My Dog Continue to PULL? London Ontario Dog Walker

We at Your Dog’s Coach have taken many a dog for a walk over the years and absolutely love what we do! However, one of the things that makes our job tougher is when we walk dogs who pull until they turn blue in the face.

Puppies Do Not Understand the Concept of Loose Leash Walking
Yup, it’s so logical to us that dogs should understand not to pull so that they can breathe. However, puppies do not come naturally equipped to understand the concept of walking on a leash, it is a learned behaviour, and if your pup gets to where he wants to go by pulling you there, then that’s the reward for pulling. Dogs don’t do things that don’t pay off.

You’re Choking Me
Another way to look at it from the dog’s perspective is that when they feel that sensation of the collar cutting off their air supply, the goal becomes getting away from that sensation. Think about it, if someone was choking you wouldn’t you struggle to get away?

Training Humans
Part of the reason your dog may have a pulling problem, or any behavioural issues for that matter, is because you may not be correctly communicating what you want from your dog in a given situation. That is why we also strongly recommend that you seek out a knowledgeable dog training professional with experience in using a variety of tools to help you. We would be very happy to recommend a trainer to you.

Equipment We Love
(We’ll add to this list as we find other equipment we love):

There is a style of harness called The Easy Walk that we at YDC have used extensively with great success with a variety of sizes and breeds of dog. Bentley easy walk_3260Have a professional fit your dog as it must be adjusted to fit each dog individually.

How the Easy Walk Works

The leash attaches to the harness by a martingale loop that sits at the front of the dog’s chest that, when the dog pulls forward it tightens around the front of the chest and shoulders slowing down the forward pull and provides the walker ease in bringing the dog back and getting them to walk close by on a loose leash.

We’ve found The Gentle Leader style of head halter to work very well as it is fully adjustable to fit the dog properly. If a piece of equipment doesn’t fit as it should, it will not work for its intended purpose. Have a professional fit your dog for his/her GL. It must fit very snug

How the Gentle Leader Works
The principal behind the mechanics of The Gentle Leader is that when the dog misbehaves it applies gentle pressure to the points on the muzzle and high on the neck that the pup or dog will instinctively understand from being corrected by the mother dog in the litter as she taught them what was acceptable behaviour and what was not.

HaltieThe pressure created by The Gentle Leader also helps anxious dogs feel more comfortable (the same principal as The Thunder Shirt) and brings the hyperactive, over-excited dog down several notches in intensity. This then allows the dog to be able to think and take instructions rather than being reactive. Finally, some control. Not only can you better control the dog and stop them from pulling, because where the head goes, the body must follow, but the dog feels only pressure. There’s no pinching, poking or choking so you can feel confident that you aren’t hurting your best friend.

Equipment Used to Stop Pulling We Don’t Recommend

First is the Prong Collar – that’s just self-explanatory in our minds. They are archaic and unnecessary with all the other options out there available for use.

The same goes for the old Choke Chain. It needs to be kept up high on the dog’s neck, right under the chin, and put on the proper way so that it releases properly. However, the choke chain is inherently too big as it must go over the dog’s head which is bigger than its neck and thus it will promptly slide down the dog’s neck to the gag reflex and cause even more choking. Pulling continues except now you feel even worse because now not only can the dog not breathe but his eyes are bulging out of his head too! Doesn’t feel good to do that to one’s best friend.

Finally, the E-collar there’s just too many things that can go wrong creating potentially negative, life-long behaviours in the dog. It has been shown that when something the dog is looking at (a child or particular person, another dog, cars, etc…) becomes paired with a negative sensation it can come to dislike and potentially become aggressive towards that object. That’s just simple classical conditioning like Pavlov’s dogs: ring the bell, provide the food and eventually the drooling becomes a conditioned response to the ringing of the bell. Dog sees someone, starts to pull, gets an electric current to the neck…does the dog associate it to the action of pulling or to the person he’s pulling towards? We guess you are taking your chances that you’re doing it at the correct time for the dog to distinguish. We prefer not to take that kind of chance.

Trial and Error

For the occasional dog, when there is a change of equipment, the results are amazing and practically instantaneous! However, as with anything new it is more likely that it will take some time for you and the dog to get the hang of it. If the dog is used to pulling and getting its way, it will sometimes just dig in and try harder, fighting with the new control you have over his movement. With practice and determination and lots of positive reinforcement when the dog is walking properly, the suggested equpiment can be the style of equipment that saves the walk for you and your best bud! Your dog will thank you!

Enjoy Your Dog Walks
The last idea we want dog owners to think about is just how important the walk is in the life of your dog. If the walk is embarrassing, frustrating and not enjoyable and you discontinue walking your dog you are guaranteed to see other negative behaviours develop. Things like barking and charging the window or door, fence fighting with the dog next door, OCD behaviours like tail chasing, stalking your cat, and chewing or destructive behaviour. Where else is all that pent up energy going to go?

So go enjoy a nice long walk with your dog! If you can’t have an enjoyable walk due to your dog’s behaviour on leash then consider that the solution could be as simple as a change of equipment.


Wendy Van Gaalen

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For The Love Of Dogs – by Wendy Van Gaalen

When life is at its peak level of craziness – running here, running there, doing all the things we need to do, all the things we forgot to do, and all the things we think we should do but don’t really want to – if you live with a dog, or better yet several dogs, it only takes a moment to stop and see how easy it truly is to enjoy life by watching them. I am often stopped in the midst of doing things by my three dogs, Banjo, the thinker, the watcher, the protector; Hobbes, the hunter, the clown, the cute little guy; and Cooper, the goofy, smiley, easygoing, sloppy big guy. When I stop to take notice, I catch Banjo rolling contentedly in the fresh morning grass. I see Hobbes, in stealth mode, silently waiting to see if he will get the chance to chase the birds away from the pond, and Cooper, the consummate Labrador retriever, has his eye surreptitiously on the breakfast preparations.  Sometimes I catch all three basking in an afternoon sun patch. Who doesn’t love napping in the warmth of the sun?


My dogs really know how to live in the moment and remind me of that daily as they go about their day in their doggy ways. In a time when life can be overwhelming and fraught with anxiety my dogs keep me grounded. They help me see the value in simplicity and keeping it real – going with the flow. They also show me the joys of being outdoors and the adventures to be had surrounded by nature.


So for the love of dogs, and the love they give unconditionally to me, I strive to make sure that they always have opportunities to do the things that keep them healthy in body, mind and spirit – daily walks, car rides, special trips to the dog park, social outings, playtime, rest and relaxation. And food! Don’t forget the food!  Right Cooper?

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October Mini Photoshoot

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Trick, Treat or Terror!

The kids are excited, you’re exhausted, not only do you need to come up with amazing Halloween costumes, you’ve got deadlines at work, functions to attend and life is a whirlwind once again!

Although your dog doesn’t know what the event is coming up. they can sense the charge in the air and the excitement as that hallowed eve approaches.  Just imagine from your dog’s point of view what the night will look like.

All of a sudden their peaceful environment is shattered.  Mom and dad come home  rushing around like crazy, and of course, if your dog is like mine, you’ll be tripping all over him as they’ll always be sitting in a door way or lying at the bottom of the stairs.

Anyway, back to your dog’s experience.  He sees his beloved parents running around like crazy – probably eating chocolate bars for dinner – while trying to get their kids to eat something healthy before they start into their candy eating frenzy.

Noise levels increase – the kids are getting excited and getting louder and louder, their squeals turning into screams as they find out that, yes, they must wear their winter coat under their beautiful costume.

Then before the dog even knows what’s going on you’ll dress them in something that smells funny, is scratchy and strange and  then put something on their head and tell them to leave it on.  (I’m an offender, I love dressing Monty up – so I’m not pointing fingers – just saying!)


By now your dog is starting to wish that you’d all leave, and may be getting a tad stressed.  Then as the kids are rushed out with mom or dad peace and calm settles over the house and all is quiet, for  two minutes.  Then it starts, the door bell rings, over and over again…strange and frightening creatures, unlike any they’ve seen before, begin to appear at the door.  Do they defend the house?  Do they try to save their parent?  Do they hide?  Or do they turn to my own personal stress relief – and start scarfing down that bowl of chocolate that’s been left right at nose level?

Dogs With a Sweet Tooth

  • Chocolate can be lethal for dogs – the darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is for them.  What makes chocolate dangerous to dogs is the ingredient Theobromine and the darker the chocolate the more theobromine the chocolate contains.  Eating chocolate may cause vomiting and diarrhea, but can also be far more serious and even cause seizures, respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
  • Many people are not aware that Xylitol – a sweetener often used in sugar free gum is very toxic for dogs.  If a dog consumes some of this gum it impacts their insulin levels and after consumption the dog may experience a significant drop in blood sugar levels which can be very dangerous.  A full package of gum may be deadly to a large dog, while just a few pieces could be fatal to a small dog.  It can cause vomiting, seizures and liver failure.

Costumes for Your Dog

  • Make sure your dog doesn’t eat their Halloween costume – it’s probably not very dog friendly from a consumption point of view.
  • You may scare you’re dog by dressing them up especially if they’re not used to it – if they show signs of stress it’s not worth it.  However if you do wish to dress them up start weeks in advance using treats while putting on their costume so they associate it with something pleasurable.
  • Make sure you choose a costume they can move freely in and that they can see clearly.



Decorating Your House

  • Candles – if you use a candle to light your pumpkin make sure it’s in a place where your dog or cat can’t get to it and burn themselves or knock it over.
  • Cords and electrical wires – you may be stringing things up, or have electrical wires dangling in places where you typically don’t – use caution – can your pet get tangled up and choke themselves – or they may try to chew the wires.

Keeping Your Pets Close

  • Keep your dog inside for the evening – you want to be sure that your dog is safe inside – pranksters might think it’s a fun time to scare your dog – or even open up the gate and let them out.  Unfortunately it’s not always innocent fun on Halloween night.
  • Many people enjoy being frightened – dogs don’t – they don’t think it’s fun, they can go into a flight or fight mode when they feel frightened.  If your dog is frightened or nervous – keep them in a safe place away from the front door so they are not exposed to all the strange noise, sights and sounds.
  • If your dog is allowed to be near the door – make sure they have their identification tags on – just on the off chance that they may panic and bolt out the open door.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!




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Did Your Dog Eat Something Nasty on their Dog Walk?

Did Your Dog Eat Something Nasty on their Dog Walk?

Dogs are always sniffing around in the grass, after all most of their outside information on the world is obtained through scent.  They keep apprised current happenings in their world through the info obtained from their sniffing around.  But, of course they’re not just sniffing around for news updates…they’re also looking for delicious morsels dropped on the ground.


On the Lookout for Tasty Tidbits

As dog walker I’m always on high alert watching out for things the dogs may find appetizing. On the rare occasion, if they’re faster than me, I’ve had to pull things out of their mouths.  Garbage days can be really tricky as temptation is lurking every where for the dogs.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have so closely examine what it is  they’ve tried to consume as it can be pretty darn gross!

They Ate What?

As the cleaner up of what they’ve previously eaten I’ve seen some interesting things come out  such as hair scunchies, socks, crayons, Happycoins, paper towels, tinsel, elastics, string, bits and pieces of toys and magic reindeer food (which is really bird seed – but that’s a whole other story).  It’s not good that the dogs ate these things in the first place, but is good that they didn’t cause a blockage and luckily they weren’t toxic and didn’t poison the dog.

What Do You Do If They Eat Something Before You Can Stop Them?

First of all try to determine what it was they ate.  Your concerns are 1) was it poisonous and 2) will it cause a blockage.

If you’re able and your dog isn’t in immediate distress take a photo of what they ate if there’s any of it left.  For example, if you think your dog ate a wild mushroom, take a photo of the remaining mushrooms so you can email it to your vet.  If it was a pile of granular type substance (very carefully, without letting it touch your skin) collect some in a clean poop bag that you can bring in for your vet to see).  Make sure you note the time that you dog ate whatever it was.



If your dog has consumed something solid such as a toy or bones, your vet may advise you to bring the dog in for an xray.  They can then determine what the appropriate steps are; sometimes they’ll induce vomiting, or they may be able to remove the object though endoscopy, which is a less invasive and less risky method than surgery.  However, there are times when a surgical procedure may be deemed necessary.

scooby lickingt


Some Signs That Your Dog May Have a Blockage:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloating and abdominal pain
  • Listless
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody, or tarry looking stools
  • Straining to have a bowel movement
  • Smaller bowel movements than normal


If you’re concerned that the substance may be toxic – I would advise you to contact your vet right away as they may want to induce vomiting, treat them with medications or feed them pet activated charcoal to reverse or neutralize the toxin.

Some Signs That Your Dog May Have Ingested Something Toxic Are:

  • Lethargyscooby sick
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tender abdomen
  • Staggering or appearing disoriented
  • Their gums may be pale
  • Loss of appetite

Here’s a good website to check out!  Pet Poison HelpLine they are open 24 hours a day and can be reached at 1-800-213-6680.  Please note that there is a fee charged per incident but it does cover the initial consultation as well as follow-up calls.

Their website is a great resource center and I recommend that you check it out!

Hopefully with the right steps taken your dog will feel as good as new in no time!


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Dodging the Yellow Bomber!

Well it’s that time of year again when the Yellow Jacket wasps are geared into high activity. Food is starting to get scarce for them so they are becoming more and more aggressive.  If you’ve been through a coffee or a food drive through lately you’ll notice them in swarms buzzing around garbage cans and the serving windows.

The Yellow Jacket is a wasp and injects his venom though a hollow shaft.  Unlike bees which can only sting once, the wasp can sting over and over again with a lance-like stinger.

We find many of these wasps on the ground these days with all the fallen crap apples from trees that line some of our walks and so we are diligent about avoiding these areas this time of the year.  We don’t want your dog to be stung by sticking their nose right onto a wasp.

As Yellow Jackets can build their nests in rodent holes, it’s a good idea not to let your dog sniff or stick their nose in one of these holes.  They might find a little more than they bargained for.

Allergic Reactions

Dogs, just like humans can go into anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to a sting so it’s very important to let your dog walker Bee know if your dog suffers from any allergic reaction to stings from bees or wasps.

What You Should You Do if Your Dog Gets Stung

If your dog does get stung you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to ensure that they are not having an allergic reaction.  If you notice anything such as your dog looking weak or shaky, having labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, or anything abnormal call your veterinarian immediately as your dog could be going into anaphylactic shock.  This is not something you can treat at home and you need to get your dog to the vet very quickly.

If they just seem to have localized swelling around the sting area your vet may still want to see your dog or may recommend oral Benadryl, or other over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.  To be on the safe side you may want ask your vet ahead of time what they would recommend if your dog were to be stung and write the dosage on the label.

If it’s not an emergency situation you can clean the area with some mild soap, and apply an ice compress (wrap your compress as you don’t want the ice to be directly on the skin) five minutes on, five minutes off for half an hour or so.  You can also apply a paste of baking soda mixed with water to help alleviate some of the pain.

Bee and wasp stings are painful so you’ll need to provide some extra cuddles and love until they start feeling better!

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Possible Reactions From Your Dog When Your Dog Walker Comes In for Their First Visit

Many times we may only meet your dog once prior to you hiring us to walk your dog.  The reactions we get when we come in for the first time to take your dog walking are varied.

First Time Reactions

The “Who Let You In” Reaction12

The dog, slightly concerned says, “Who let you in?  I’m not sure who you are, I’m not sure why you’re here?   Hmmmm….have you got treats?  I think I smell treats….OH…I do smell a treat!  Ok, so what are we doing….what?  We’re going for a walk, you got treats, you got the leash?  Ok lets go!”







whiteThe “Where’s My Mom and Dad” Reaction

The dog, is scared and may give a few little barks, “Mom, dad there’s somebody in the house, mom? dad? where are you?”  A few more little barks and whines, “mom, dad….wait…something smells good, something smells reeeeeally good, wait, what, did I hear walk, you wanna take me for a walk?  Mom, I’m going for a walk.”







The “Yay She’s Here, She’s Here” ReactionShe's here

This seems to happen a lot in a two dog family.  We open the door a crack and two noses stick out and start sniffing, then the fun starts. Yay, she’s here, she’s here, we’re doing for a walk, we’re going for  a walk!.”  Dog two, who by now is doing the happy dance without really knowing why says, “Do you know who she is?”  Dog one says, “who cares, go grab the leashes, we’re going for a walk yay!”







big eyesThe “I  Don’t Think You’re Going to Hurt, Me Are You” Reaction

This reaction always gets to me as these dogs are so trusting.  You go into the house, and the dog typically is a little startled.  The dog looks at you with those big eyes and a little wag of the tail and says, “I don’t think you’re going to hurt me, I’m a little afraid, but if you say we’re going for a walk I’ll go and not cause any trouble.”   They may look a little sheepish and say, “I think I peed a little….I’m sorry.”  They then will promptly roll over for a tummy rub and we’re the best of buddies.



The “You’re Not Allowed To Be Here” Reaction

not to be here

Surprisingly this reaction happens rarely, but it’s like this.  We open the door  crack, a little nose (it’s always the little ones) sticks out, sniffs, retreats and very loud frantic barking starts, ” You need to leave, this is not your house, I’m going to scare you away!”

At this point, as dog walkers, we’ll need to assess the situation to make sure it’s safe. If so, armed with the best smelling treats, we’ll slide in sideways without making direct eye contact and start praying that our never fail dog treats will serve us well once more.  We’ll toss a few treats to the dog and wait, and wait and wait.  By this time the dog is saying, “out, get out, treat?, get out, treat?…treat?…ok, you can stay but I’ll need more treats”.  After several minutes have passed they say, “ok, I’ll go for a walk, but it’s going to cost you a lot of treats to win me over.”


Day Two Reactions

Yay, she’s here, she’s here, YAY we’re going for a walk, we’re going for a dog walk!


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Want to Know a Great Place to Walk Your Dog in London?

I thought I’d tell you why Komoka Provincial Park is one of my favorite trails for walking dogs.

A few years ago I was hiking the Komoka trails with my dog when I had an epiphany – I should be walking dogs for a living.  I had such a clear picture in my mind of walking down this very trail with two dogs and it was my job!  I could smell the fresh air, feel my pony tail swinging back and forth, and felt the shared happiness between me and the dogs I was walking.  Two years later my vision was a reality! I was a dog walker in London, Ontario.

I love these scenic trails as you can hike through forests, open fields, along side the river.  If you’re lucky you might just come across finaldpthe haunted tree (which you don’t want to find when you’re a little lost and it’s starting to get dark…but that’s a whole other story!).


In the summer the woods offer protection from the sun and some cooler hiking.  The trails are hard packed and you can go for a power walk or jog.  The river is a great place for the dogs to have a refreshing dip.  The fields are filled with butterflies, flowers and sometimes grazing deer.  The dogs love all the scents, sounds and sights and their tails seldom stop wagging.


In the fall the colours along the trail are stunning and you’re surrounded by the amazing scent of fallen leaves which slowly gives way to the smell of pine as you venture deeper into the woods.  The trail become a soft carpet of colourful leaves and the bare limbs of the trees opens up the view to the river which is simply beautiful.  We’ve done some fantastic fall walks with the dogs – they love it and we don’t have to worry about them becoming over-heated.


Komoka turns into a winter wonderland and typically we’re still able to hike the whole circuit.  The dog’s love running though the snow and up and down the trails.  Beautiful ice formations develop on tree roots near the river and everything looks so clean and fresh.  Typically I’ll wear YakTraxs on my boots for better traction.  You’ll need to make sure the trails haven’t thawed and refrozen into rough ice which can be a problem for the dogs.

Lucy sniffing flowerSpring

Early spring is not the best.  For some reason many people don’t think they need to pick up after their dogs in the winter.  Not sure why, but it can be very unpleasant when the snow starts to melt and all those little piles come into view.  It can also be very slippery and mucky, the dogs don’t mind but it’s a big clean up job before they can even go back in the car.

Normally I won’t hit the trail until the late spring.  By then it’s like a fairy land with all the plants coming back to life – so green and fresh with spring flowers starting to bloom, and of course the dogs love all the spring scents and sights.


Many people let their dogs off leash and will allow their dogs to get way ahead of them.  you’ll need to be aware of this especially if your dog is not too keen on other dogs.

There have been break-ins in the parking lot – my car being one of them!  Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle.  I typically leave my glove box and arm rest compartment open so they can see there is nothing of value in the car.

There are some wet spots and your dog will come back dirty – bring a towel!

Aside from this, Komoka Park is one of my favorite places and I hope you go dog walking there – your dog will love it!


Follow Baseline Rd. West out of Byron and follow it out of town for 2-3 kilometers. Look to the left for the park sign which you will come to before reaching the town of Killworth.

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Will We Let Your Dog Go Swimming When We Pet Sit With Them?

We love to see the dogs having fun and boy do they love to splash and play in the water.  As we don’t have a pool for them, we are constantly on the look out for safe swimming areas we can take them to on our dog walks or when we’re pet sitting with them.

One of the places where we’ve had good luck with is at Lawson Creek.  There’s a small beach area where the dogs can wade out, chase and splash each other.  We always ensure that we scope out the beach area and water to ensure there are no broken bottles or obvious hazards before we let the dogs go in for their swim.

We keep our client’s dogs secure with a long horse lunge line so we can reel them in if need be – not really, but we do always keep the dogs on a line.  The reason we prefer to use the horse lunge lines is because they’re thicker and softer than the typical long nylon lines for dogs sold at pet stores.  The lunge lines provide the dogs with lots of freedom so they are able to run, splash about and chase sticks.  We buy our lunge lines at SpruceWood Tack which is just located a few minutes outside of London in Arva

When we’re pet sitting or dog walking this is one of our favorite spots to hang out, especially on hot days.  Not only do we have access to the water, but there are also some great hiking trails in the bush so we can walk the dogs in cooler shady areas while we head to the river.  The dogs LOVE going here and once we’re out of the car they start doing their happy dance all the way to the water.

This location can be accessed off of Doncaster Ave.

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