Get more joy (and less stress) from your pets with these web and smartphone tools By Christina Tynan-Wood
We share our home with quite a cast of furry and feathered friends. Mason, our rescue dog, is a natural-born worrier who takes responsibility for seeing that the other animals—a rambunctious hound, two cats and a free-range chicken—are clean, cared for and following the house
rules. Believe me, he has his work cut out for him, especially with
Hoover, the hound, who is notorious for finding his way through the
fence to freedom.
Enter technology to close the gap. In the past, when Hoover made a
break for it, all Mason could do was bark his head off. Now Hoover
wears a Tagg Tracker, and I promptly receive a text message when he
breaches the border. A tap to open the app on my smartphone reveals his
whereabouts so that I (or my husband or one of the kids) can go get him.
Talk about an upgrade: Efficiency-wise, this method is far superior to
wandering the streets calling his name. It also keeps his adventures short and unexciting, which should make the Great Escape prospect a lot less appealing.
In our pre-Tagg days, Hoover once went missing for several days.
Turned out a concerned citizen had taken him in to "keep him safe"—a
kindhearted gesture for sure, but then our hapless hound couldn't come
when we were outside calling him. In that type of scenario, the Finding
Rover app offers a solid solution by pairing facial recognition software
with a searchable database to reunite lost dogs and their owners.
I've even installed home video surveillance
so that I can check on the pets when none of us are around. Apparently,
after Mason has taken care of important tasks such as grooming the cats
and sampling everyone else's breakfast, he curls up for a long nap in
my favorite—and most definitely off-limits-to-canines—armchair. Seems he
has no trouble whatsoever breaking that rule.
Tagg—The Pet Tracker: This collar (suitable for cats or dogs
that weigh over 10 pounds) alerts you right away via text or email if
your furry friend leaves home, and pinpoints his location on an
easy-to-read map. It also tracks physical activity—as in, a sudden
uptick could mean trouble. Pettracker.com, $100 for collar and first three months of service, then $8/month
Finding Rover: At the core of this app—which claims 98%
accuracy—is a database of registered animal faces to connect lost dogs
with their owners. Obviously, Finding Rover can only be as effective as
its database, so the company is on a mission to get owners everywhere to
snap photos of their canine companions. Findingrover.com, free for iOs, Android and the web
Samsung SmartCam HD Pro: An easy-to-install camera taps
into your home Wi-Fi to let you peek in on the pets via the Internet or
your smartphone when you're elsewhere. It even lets you talk to them. Samsungsv.com, $189
DogVacay.com: If traveling is tough because of the
what-do-we-do-with-the-dog dilemma, this site can connect you with
nearby fellow pet lovers willing to board yours. Rates start at
$25/night and include pet insurance.
Rover.com: Check out this community of animal lovers who
are willing to watch your pet at your home or theirs. Prices range from
$10 to $75 per night and include pet insurance.
Originally published in the April 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.