Friday, January 1, 2016

Lost and Found

While at my parent's house tonight, Buster was outside in the fenced in backyard. My mom opened the gate to bring the trash can in and Buster bolted. He's never done this before. My mom came and got me, my dad joined in and my neighbor and we walked through the neighborhood, I drove around, we called and called for him and nothing.
Why would you ever leave this amazing yard?

As my dad and I were driving around again, my mom calls. She says "I was outside and the fence was open. I turned around and he was sitting in the backyard like nothing had happened." Clearly he hadn't been in the yard for the past 30 minutes, but the little punk knew exactly where to come home. He was just in time for his dinner, got some special treats and lots of love, play, and attention. Why would any dog want to leave that?!
Our New Years kiss last night at a party

The thing I was most upset about was that I had just bought a Whistle GPS Monitor. The kit had been missing a part and I had waited 20 days to get a new rubber collar attachment and when that came the Whistle wouldn't work. I was frustrated with the situation, the lack of communication around the holidays and my nearing the end of my 30-day money back guarantee. So I returned the Whistle. If he had it on, we could have tracked him immediately.

Below you can see the spike in Buster's activity as he did some unsupervised exploring:
Buster's Activity with his non-GPS Whistle.
 So what can you do to protect your dog? 

  1. The first thing I purchased is a QR Code Slide-On Dog ID Tag from (I don't get money for this review). I chose the collar slide because it had less chance of having the code rubbed off by a collar tag and the slide is more noticeable.
QR Code Slide-On Dog ID Tag
Your QR Code brings up a detailed personal profile for your dog, where you can list basic contact information and even health concerns/special diet. But the part I liked best is that you'll get an email notification if anyone scans the dog's code and if they have GPS enabled on their smartphone, you'll receive a GPS location map of where the scan occurred. The downside is someone has to actually find your dog and scan it. This doesn't help if your dog is stuck somewhere and can't get to a person for help, as happened with my friend's Jack Russell Terrier.
(If you prefer a regular dog tag with a QR Code, they have those too for the same price:

      2. GPS Monitor: As I talked about above, Whistle has a GPS/Activity Monitor. You are required to sign up for GPS service (you can't just use it as an activity monitor like the previous version). It's $9.95/mo for month-to-month payment, 7.95/mo for a years service (which works out to $94.50), and 6.95/mo for 2 years service. So you're looking at almost a $200 up-front cost if you do the year's service plan because the Whistle is $79, although if you order directly from their site they often have specials.  I wish I could tell you how well it worked, but I never got to experience that. I love my Whistle Activity Monitor, so I know that feature is great. It allows different caretakers to have separate profiles linked with the dog's profile and syncs with the person's smartphone to show who spent time with the dog, as you can see in the picture of Buster's activity, above.
App available on iOS and Android.

Pod 2: This corkscrew sized tracker seems pretty cool. It uses AT&T and T-Mobile 2G cell phone service to monitor your dog's whereabouts. The first year of GPS service is free and the next year is $49, which is one of the cheaper prices. It also monitors activity & sleep, which is a fun feature. 
Pod 2
This one uses AA batteries which last up to 6 days, so hope you have rechargable batteries. App available on iOS and Android.
 $199, which ends up being comparable to the Whistle GPS once you've bought their GPS service. 

DogTelligent Collar As of right now, this is a pre-order. It replaces your dog's regular collar. It has an optional GPS service, which is nice if you decide you just want the activity monitor. There's a built-in ultrasound, vibration and speakers to talk to your dog, train him/her, and deter barking.It allows you to keep track of your dog's vet info, including storing photos of vet records. $120 preorder, $179.95 regular price. "Exact pricing for the service is yet to be determined but estimated at $4.95/mo." That'd be the lowest price yet. You can see some of the app screens for different features here.
Their IndieGoGo page is more informative than their website. Battery life is 7-14 days and is rechargable with their charger. The collar is aluminum and it looks like your dog would still need to wear a regular collar since there seems to be no place to attach tags or any leash but their special magnet one.

Nuzzle This is a pre-order as well, but this one promises no service fees for the GPS. It comes on its own collar, but is detachable so it can be placed on your existing collar. Monitors activity and location, comes with charger, attachement and base station. Battery life is 5 days. $189, but never any GPS service fee.
Their IndieGoGo page is more informative than their website. App available on iOS and Android.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do about a GPS tracker. I like the no service fees of the Nuzzle, but I hate to be a guinea pig on a new product. Will update once I decide.

Do you have an activity monitor or GPS on your pet? Tell me about it in the comments.

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