It’s really everybody’s worst nightmare. Or, if not their worst nightmare, then pretty close to the worst. You tie Fluffy outside the local coffee shop (because unlike Polka Dog Bakery you need to leave your dog outside) just long enough to get that drop of devil bean you need to crank start your day. You might pause to chat with a neighbor in line, taking your time, taking it all in. Enjoying the sunshine and the fact that you’re outside with your dog and the world is right and good.
When you open the door to greet Fluffy, your heart sinks. She’s gone. Leash still tied to the traffic meter, but her happy little smile nowhere to be seen. Did someone take her? Did she run away? Did she get spooked and is hiding under the porch across the street?
There are pet detectives and all kinds of services out there that will try and help you locate your dog…posting “lost” flyers, adding info to websites, calling local shelters, hitting the streets with teams of searches. But more and more people are opting to track and watch over their pets the new-fashioned way, with GPS.
According to a great article written by David Zax at TechnologyReview, titled “Helicopter Parent Your Dog with Pet GPS“, there are several services and products on the market and we wanted to share a blog post by David that has reviews and thoughts on some of the major players.
Tagg, made by Snaptronics, which is a subsidiary of Qualcomm, the giant cellphone tech provider, “has a device that fits into the collar your dog already has (provided it’s not a spiked or bejeweled one), plus a unit that rests in your home. Through your computer, you can set a virtual perimeter, a safe zone for your dog to wander. If he strays too far, you’ll get a text message alert. The device has a battery life of some 30 days and is water resistant; it’s intended for dogs (or cats) 10 pounds or heavier. For $200, you get all the necessary hardware, plus one year of the service.”
Seeing as a bag of natural dog food costs around 60 bucks these days, $200 seems like quite a bargain for all you’re getting with this plan. This is especially ideal for those of you who live out in the country and don’t want to utilize the shock therapy perimeter guardian of an electric fence.
“Tagg has a competitor in the form of Retriever, which behaves very similarly–with virtual fences and alerts. Joining the everything-is-social trend, Retriever even lets you share the location of your dog with a friend, presumably so if your old pal Skipper escapes while you’re out of town, you can help steer the on-site rescue. To judge from its site, Retriever appears to not yet be on the market, nor is a projected price listed.”
Also pretty cool stuff: being able to share the info with a close friend or dogwalker at the scene of the crime in case you’re at work or out of town and want to start the search right away.
There are other players obviously, and David’s original TechnologyReview blog post lists some of the others and their individualized and in some cases expensive perks.
And maybe this isn’t for you: you’re not one that’s worried about your pet running away or being abducted. Maybe you think it’s all unnecessary and extravagant. You might be right, but insurance exists for the one time you need it. And just in case you’re feeling like you want to secure Fluffy a bit more tightly as the outside loving summer months come on, these devices give tracking a whole new meaning. You could also go the low tech route and leave a trail of Polka Dog Dog Treats back to your house, that has been known to work quite well.