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Travels With Maggie: Afraid of Your Own Shadow

Are You Ready to Walk?

We’re going to talk about a rather serious topic on our walk today. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve been meaning to talk about this for quite some time but, as is my norm, I kept forgetting to do so. While on a recent walk with Maggie and Toby, I was once again reminded of my transgression, so I need to do it now while it’s still fresh in my old brain.

As always, if you plan on joining us, you can find us where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

Maggie is ready!

Maggie is ready!

A Nervous Little Creature

Starting out on our walk, you will immediately notice a distinct difference between Maggie and Toby. Maggie moves like a hot air balloon, drifting lazily as the breeze moves her along, in no hurry whatsoever. Toby is a scud missile, and heaven help anyone or anything that stands in his way.

Maggie is, by nature, a nervous Nellie. She’s three-years old now, but, truthfully, she’s been afraid of her own shadow since she was a pup. Loud noises make her jump. Trucks approaching us from behind make her dart further from the road. As you can imagine, the 4th of July is a real test for my Maggie girl.

Toby slept through the fireworks last 4th of July.

Having said that, Maggie doesn’t even come close, with regards to nervousness, to a small dog we encountered on a recent walk. I don’t know the breed of that small dog, one of those miniature terriers, or a terrier mix, probably with a sprinkling of a few breeds. What was obvious from a distance, and even more so up close, was that dog was terrified while walking with its owner. He/she shivered with fear as we approached. He/she cowered as we pulled even, ten feet separating us, and his/her owner picked it up and whispered calming words.

I’m sorry we frightened your dog,” I said, even though Maggie was actually on her best behavior, not barking or acting threatening at all.

More whispering of soothing reassurances.

“It’s nothing you did. I got Princess from the shelter about a month ago. She had been abused by her former owner, so now she sees every stranger as a threat.”

Let me interject my own feelings at this point. People who abuse children and animals should be transported back to the Middle Ages and that particular brand of punishment. I would be fine with giving them fifty lashes, in public, or locking them away in the Tower of London for, oh, say twenty years. That may seem harsh, and I can certainly understand someone saying as much, but I have no compassion for abusers.


Toby is ready!

Toby is ready!

The Clinical of It

What Princess had was, of course, a form of PTSD, the same PTSD we speak about with regards to soldiers and rape victims and other survivors of abhorrent circumstances and/or events. How many there are is almost impossible to guess, but I feel safe in saying all of you reading this, right now, know some on a personal basis.

I remember so clearly back to 1962, driving with my dad one day, and passing a group of eight men, all dressed in suits, walking along the side of the road, heads down, not looking left or right, slowly shuffling towards the shopping district. I remember asking my dad about them, so strange a sight they were, and my dad telling me “those are World War 2 soldiers, Bill, who never returned home from the war.” His words seemed strange to me then; today I understand them quite well. There are some events which happen to humans which are simply too horrible for the mind to adjust to. Having a close buddy blown apart feet from you, that’s the kind of shit you just don’t shrug off, you know? Being beaten by a loved one will leave marks that never heal.

My uncle discovered the truth about PTSD in World War 2. He was discharged early because he was in a naval battle and came home “shell-shocked.” Therapy made him functional, but he then turned to alcohol, and for years fought those demons.

A girlfriend from long ago, raped as a teen, could not be intimate without all the lights on in the room and music playing softly in the background.

That little dog, Princess, incapable of walking with her new owner, without soothing whispers of reassurance along the way.

Stains on the soul!

Did my dad have PTSD from WW2? Very possible!

Did my dad have PTSD from WW2? Very possible!

Walking On

Maggie and me, we pass a man sitting on his porch. Maggie greets him by squatting and peeing on this lawn. The man yells out, “could you please not have your dog urinate on my lawn,” and I sheepishly apologize and we move on, even though I’m seething just below the surface. Again, I’m transported back in time, living at 4022 North 18th Street in Tacoma, Washington, and Mister Streitz, our across-the-street neighbor, the meanest man I’ve ever met. Mister Strietz, Henry, would sit on his porch and yell at us kids daily. He would wait for one of our balls to roll onto his lawn and he would snatch up the ball and toss it in his garbage can. I lived across the street from that man for almost twenty years, and he was a miserable human being every single day of those twenty years, even mean to his wife and son.

My dad told me once that Mister Streitz fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War 2, pinned down with his company for two months, frigid winter weather, living in a muddy foxhole, shells exploding daily around them. He went into the war, by all accounts, a happy person. He came out bitter, angry, forever changed.

Stains on the soul!

We Are All so Fragile

We all walk a fine line between sanity and the demons of our soul. I’ve tried to remember that during my adult years, and that little dog along our walk once again reminded me of that fact. Children are not born angry. Puppies are not born afraid. Our personalities are formed over time. The way we respond to stimuli is determined by the way we were raised, for sure, but there can be, and are, events along our timeline which can be everlasting and crippling. It’s terribly simple and yet oh so complicated.

I am reminded of a line from a Dan Fogelber song: "When faced with the past, the strongest man cries."

I look at my Nervous Nellie dog, Maggie, and I pat her on the head. I get down on one knee, hold her face in my hands, and reassure her that all is well, that she is loved. It’s the least I can do for her. Really, it’s the least I can do for any animal, four-legged or two. A little understanding will go a long way. A little empathy will pay dividends along the Road of Life.

And you know what? I think Maggie understands what I’m telling her. She is more relaxed as we finish our walk, strolling and sniffing our way past the home with the swing set out front, past the beautifully-landscaped yard of an old retired couple, past the empty lot overgrown with blackberries and the empty barn losing the battle against age. I wave at a woman I see daily, she tells me how lovely Maggie looks, and we all smile, even Maggie, and all is well in my world once again.

Thanks so much for joining us. We’re back home now, back at the driveway, the end of the wonder for this day. We invite you to join us again on our next walk. All we ask you to do is bring a little understanding and empathy with you.

Maggie wags her tail. She enjoys your company.

So do I!

Stay safe, be happy, and blessings to you all.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

H.O.W. (Humanity One World)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2020:

You betcha, Chris! I think it's important that we keep issues like that alive and in the forefront. People can't forget about problems like that; we'll only find a cure/solution by facing it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2020:

Wow, MizB, I have never heard of something like that. Thank you for sharing that painful memory. I stand corrected, and I thank you for it.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on August 08, 2020:

Bill, I'm glad you brought this topic up. I also had a dog that had been abused. His reaction to anyone who approached him in the first weeks and months after I got him was to sink to the ground. It was sad. But with a lot of love, he rebounded. It is interesting that you also brought up WWII soldiers and PTSD. I have heard people, more than once, say that back in those days, no one ever heard of PTSD. I suppose those people think it is a myth. Thanks for pointing out that our soldiers of today and yesterday have faced and are facing an ongoing battle.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 07, 2020:

Bill, what a lovely walk, and such a good lesson came from it. I felt terrible about the little dog, and I hope that the new owners can help it through its PTSD. I happily report that our Cici was a traumatized mess when we adopted her. Not from the owner's actions, but from his dog. He surrendered her because the dog and Cici couldn't get along, and "the dog was there first." Seven years later, she is the most placid cat we've ever had. I'm not sure how, and I don't think we can take all the credit because Cici herself had to cooperate.

I must disagree with one statement: "Children are not born angry." My youngest son was born angry. We noticed it from the beginning. I can't explain it. When he first learned to crawl, he would get mad at a toy and bang his head on the hardwood floor until a knot came up on his forehead, and we would have to put him in his soft crib. I think this anger was at the core of the cause of his premature death. Anger and anxiety can contribute to autoimmune diseases. Most children are not born angry is my observation.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 05, 2020:

LIsha, I'm very appreciative that you came along with us. Thank you so much! Join us again next time?

Lisha C on August 04, 2020:

This was a lovely walk with such a deep message; it made me quite emotional. It is so true that all our personalities are formed over time—everyone has had their own struggles, some more than others. We must always remember this and avoid doing anything that will make someone's life even harder. With a little empathy from everyone, the world will certainly be a better place.

Thank you for sharing this, I am looking forward to your next walk!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2020:

What you say is true, Rajan, and yes, it is incredibly sad. Thank you for your thoughts.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 03, 2020:

Terrifying life experiences never completely heal. The human psyche is so fragile. One is never the same self again be it a human or an animal. This is so sad.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Mr. Happy, I could vent for hours about the military and that kind of mentality. The cost extracted from young men and women is criminal in my humble opinion.

Cheers indeed, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Me too, Jo, and to think, I didn't want dogs when Bev suggested it. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Thank you Miebakagh!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Life is downright bizarre at times, William. But it is also fascinating, so there's that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Sadly, Nithya, you are correct. There are some souls who never recover from trauma, and that makes me profoundly sad.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Thanks Bill! I'm sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. PTSD affects so many families. I wish the military took it seriously.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2020:

Becky, hooray for your husband and the medication. And thank you for sharing that story about that dog. I have a real soft spot in my heart for the abused and tormented of the world, man and animal. I'm sure that dog felt that your care was heaven sent.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 03, 2020:

I was looking for the mail bag but I guess I'm early. So, I stopped-by here. Thank You for this article. I am not going to say more because if I do, it will be really long. This is a topic I'm on like a fly on @#$%. Can't keep away from it.

We spend so much on air carriers, bombs, bullets ... not nearly enough on help for those who need it.

Alrighty, I'll be back when You get that mail-bag posted. Cheers!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 03, 2020:

Glad you and your dogs found each other.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 02, 2020:

Hi William, I agreed with you.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on August 02, 2020:

I enjoyed the walk, Bill, but Maggie left me with much to think about. Life is strange at times.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 01, 2020:

You have provided a safe haven for Maggie. PTSD needs therapy and lots of affection and understanding from family and friends but sometimes even that is not enough.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 01, 2020:

Enjoyed the walk, Bill. I have a brother in-law with PTSD and it is so sad to see. He is on medication but will never be the same. Our dog was always terrified of fireworks and thunder so I guess she had a form of PTSD also. Have a great weekend.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on July 31, 2020:

I cried over this one. My husband had severe PTSD, from 4 tours in Vietnam. He got angrier easy, and it got worse for years. He was very hard to live with at times, but I still miss him. 25 years in, I just about divorced him, because none of the meds were working and we all walked around on pins and needles. Then he found something that worked and it was a miracle. He changed back to the sweet, happy man I married.

When I got married, I had a dog that was 9 years old. He was terrified of men when I got him and it took a long time for him to recover from that. The man that had him was mean to him. He got rid of the dog because his psychiatrist told him to. If the dog had a psychiatrist, he would have said to get rid of the man. He was always quiet, and reserved, but some men could get near him. Women and teenaged boys had no problem with him.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

It is for sure, Eric, and such a simple gift to give. Takes all of thirty seconds to deliver a powerful message that way.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

I was wrong, Miebakagh, and I realized it about two hours after I wrote it...should have been Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

Thank you Meg! My dad died at 50, again, much too young. For all he lived through, it's a shame he couldn't enjoy more of life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

Thank you very much, Urooj! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

Devika, there is extraordinary in the ordinary. All we have to do is open our minds and allow them to flow inside of us. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

MizB, I realized my mistake about two hours after I wrote it. I slapped my forehead and chastised myself for the obvious error. Thanks for checking me and for sharing your PTSD experiences.

Urooj Khan from Karachi, Pakistan on July 31, 2020:

Strongly agreed with u Bill. I really enjoyed your adventurous hub.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 31, 2020:

Bill travels with Maggie sounds great. I enjoyed reading about your fruitful adventures while walking with Maggie. It is interesting that you and Maggie have these extraordinary experiences.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 30, 2020:

Bill, you are close, but PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. Larry has it from Vietnam, and I have non-military related PTSD from a previous life. It is a very distressing thing for us both. And animals can have it, too. We thought our cat, Cici, had it from previous trauma when we got her, but she has settled down very nicely and doesn't seem to have any flashbacks or incidents of nerves. She is now the most placid animal (either 4-legged or 2-legged) in the house.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 30, 2020:

I just happen to be a 'fraidy cat. Maggie and I would be a mess on a walk. PTSD stands for Pre-Teen Seriously Disordered. Take my word for it.

Bill holding that hand or face and reassuring another is the finest gift.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 30, 2020:

Bill, thanks and you're always welcome.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

Miebakagh, PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder....I believe. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

It's always my pleasure, Linda, as is your company on these walks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

Hopefully, Dora, one day it will be true, that man will live up to a higher level of existence, one of compassion and empathy for others.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

Happy Thursday, Alyssa, and thank you for chiming in on this topic and for walking along with us. Maggie and Toby thoroughly enjoyed your company, as did I.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

Thank you Marlene. Ugly topic for sure, but as you said, it's one that must be faced for any kind of normalcy to occur.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

It's always a pleasure having you join us, Pamela. Thank you for your thoughts.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

We are very happy that you joined us, Rosina. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2020:

War is started by fat white guys in thousand dollar suits, Nell. If any of them actually had to fight, we wouldn't have any wars.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 30, 2020:

This post war PTSD is something I'm learning lately. What does the initial stands for?

RoadMonkey on July 30, 2020:

Yes, the older I get, the more I understand the saying, "if you can't do anything else, just be kind". My grandmother said my father was changed after he came home from world war II. She said he was shell shocked, literally, he was close to an exploding shell and lost his front teeth. But nowadays they would probably call it PTSD. He and my father in law who also fought in the war, both died at the age of 57, much too early, both of heart attacks.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 29, 2020:

You've described some important topics related to dogs and humans in this article, Bill. Thank you.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 29, 2020:

I recently read that in the Jewish culture, one's attitude toward animals was included in the character profile. It makes sense. You remind us that dogs, like people, may have good reason for their unreasonable behavior. We need to be kind to them--as kind as you are to Maggie and Toby.

Alyssa from Ohio on July 29, 2020:

Your walks with Maggie and Toby are always lovely adventures. How amazing for that lady to give the little dog a loving home. I'm with you on punishment for the people who cause that harm, whether to animals or another human. This was an important walk today, shining a light on the fact that we all deal with trauma in different ways, and the difference of expectations between generations on how to deal with that trauma. One thing is for sure, we all can show compassion to one another in our daily interactions with each other. Thank you for taking us along on your walk, Bill! Happy Wednesday!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on July 29, 2020:

No matter what the thing is that causes the trauma, PTSD is a serious condition. I don't think it is ever easy to deal with, but deal with it we must if we want to feel "normal" in a society that can be cruel in and of itself. I try not to look back. It's not easy all the time, nevertheless I try.

What a nice walk this was. Thank you for sharing your joy.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 29, 2020:

This has been a lovely walk today even with the PTSD topic of conversation I agree with you wholeheartedly about the punishment for anyone who abuses an animal or a child. It is so awful that I hate to even think about it.

The WW II soldiers had it awfully rough, whether they served in Europe or in the Pacific. Having PTSD is an awful result.

Maggie and Toby are both so adorable and different personalities is no problem and makes life interesting. Thanks for this walk.

Rosina S Khan on July 29, 2020:

Yes, I agree with you, Bill. Humans and animals shouldn't be abused under any circumstances. It was a beautiful walk with Maggie.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

John, I'd like to find that previous owner and beat him with a stick. Just sayin'

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Horrible, Peggy, just horrible! What in the hell is wrong with people? I wish I could be understanding with abusers, but I can't.

Nell Rose from England on July 29, 2020:

I totally agree with you Bill. War should be something left for the cinema, so you can walk out and have a drink afterwards.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Very kind of you, Ann! Now I miss my hens. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

I can't imagine, Flourish, and I hope I never experience that kind of baggage.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 29, 2020:

We once had a dog we adopted, named Tessa. I picked her out because she was shyer and more timid than the other dogs. She was a very good pet but would cower in fear if you ever picked up a stick to throw. She must have been beaten by a previous owner.

I enjoyed the walk once again.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 29, 2020:

We have owned several dogs that had been abused, and they were afraid of other people. It took Trudy a long time to be able to walk on a leash without pulling as far away from any approaching person on the street with fear in her eyes. It also took years of being loved by us to be trustful enough to finally be in the same room with people visiting us. For years, she hid out of sight in other rooms.

My mother's dog, Skippy, who later became our dog upon her death, had also been abused as a small puppy. He never got over his fear of others.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 29, 2020:

You? A grumpy old man? I think not. If so, you must be the nicest grumpy old man ever! The hens say 'hi' back.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Sad about your dad, Nell. Man should not be expected to experience warfare. The things they see should be reserved for make-believe movies, me thinnks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Thank you Linda! God, don't look at our new flowerbed in the backyard. It's overgrown and I don't want you to see it. lol I really have to do that weeding, but it's been so damned hot lately. I know you understand that complaint.

Happy Wednesday, my friend. Stay cool!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 29, 2020:

You never know what baggage another person carries. someone I know revealed that their mother was murdered. Good Lord! Can you imagine the anguish? Be gentle with others. We just have no idea as to their struggles.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Ann, you made me smile. At peace with the world because of a 3-egg day, and I understood that perfectly. Collecting eggs was once a great joy for me.

Too warm here. I complain a lot about the weather. I think that's a sure sign of old age. I'm becoming a grumpy old man. :)

Thank you for joining me. Now, go enjoy that peacefulness. Say hi to the hens for me.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Thanks for joining us, Miebakagh! Peace be with you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Thanks Heidi! I've wondered that about Maggie too, but I can't think of a thing that startled her that badly when she was young. I hope she grows out of it, but I doubt it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Request noted, Sha. I've been meaning to take some new pics, but it's been too damned hot here. We don't do 90's in Western Washington. But I'll try to get it done today, just for you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2020:

Liz, it is just a sad result of asking humans to do horrible things in the name of honor. I wish it could be avoided.

Thank you for sharing about that man. Sad, sad story.

Nell Rose from England on July 29, 2020:

I hate the idea of someone traumatizing an animal, or a person come to that. I remember my dad always had OCD. He was a quiet man, but all my life I remember the light on, light off, light on, and so on. He had been shot in the war, so maybe that was his way of being in control. I love your dog tales, er tails. And I feel as though I already know Maggie! Take care.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 29, 2020:

I believe in my heart that there is a special place in Hell where the fire is hotter, reserved for those who hurt the most vulnerable, our animals and children.

You never know what another soul is going through--I try to remind myself of that when I go on my walks and notice (for example) a house where the flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds. We all need a little more humility and a little more humanity.

I always love these walks, and today is no different. "Where the pavement ends and the wonder begins" indeed.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 29, 2020:

I had tears in my eyes by the time I'd finished reading this. Such sad parts and such gentle parts. You are such a talented writer, to be able to pull so much from walking the dogs! You take us wherever you want us to go, whilst giving us a charming walk.

Just goes to show that apparently nasty people can be suffering from a terrible past. I guess some deal with it better than others and we should at least stop to think that it might be so with a person we don't like much (unless we've suffered terribly by them).

Thank you for the wonder of this walk. Maggie is wonderful - maybe her sixth sense told her that Princess was a dog who needed sympathy, peace and acceptance. I believe dogs are indeed that perceptive regarding humans and other animals.

The sunshine has come out, I saw the children at the weekend and the chickens are 3-egg happy today! I'm at peace with the world.

Looking forward to the next walk, bill.


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 29, 2020:

Bill, this is a lovely story. With animals as major character, I like it. Till the next walk. Thanks.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 29, 2020:

This just proves the saying that you don't know what anyone is going through under the surface. I think this isn't just with strangers we meet, but with those close to us, too. I'm constantly surprised at some of the stuff I learn about my hubby after we've been together almost 3 decades. But then when I know, some of the behaviors and attitudes I observe make all kinds of sense.

Though you've been a good dog daddy to Miss Maggie from the start, there must have been something that has caused her to fret about strange or noisy things. We had a dog like that, too. He was amazing, but terrified of loud noises, thunder, fireworks. He would flip from being his fun self into a shivering, shaky mess at even the smell of rain.

I hope Princess finds some peace in her new home. It's only been a month. Shelter pups can take many months to adjust.

Thanks for taking us with you!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 29, 2020:

Bill, this was a beautiful walk. I nearly cried when we learned of Princess's past. Thank goodness someone has adopted her and will show her the love she deserves. I'm with you when it comes to abusers. Stone them all!

I see what you mean about Maggie's almost-human eyes. They're very soulful. How 'bout a new pic of Maggie and Toby on your newly extended front porch? We can all meet there next time as we head for where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 29, 2020:

You make a very interesting and relevant point. These days PTSD is acknowledged and recognised more than before, but probably still not enough. I once knew of someone who was said to have returned a changed man from World War 2. It took him until well into his 90s to lighten up a little. Many years of his life were spoilt. Sadly, as you noticed in 1962, a whole generation came back from the conflict deeply affected by what they had experienced.

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