From time to time, people have asked us to have a pet column in the paper. We’ve considered it. There are people who love pets and people who don’t, so it’s not for everybody. In any case, since I love dogs, I thought I ought to write at least one such column. We could see how it goes, and then go from there.
PETTING (That’s the Name of the Column)
The big star at this year’s Global Pet Expo, held in Orlando, Florida is a product called the Passport Pet Access Smart System Pet Door. It’s a computer device you clip onto your dog’s collar that allows your dog, just by his approach, to have his dog door open for him so he can go out or back in. No fuss, no muss, no bother.
But that’s just the beginning of what it does. The device can also be controlled remotely. So if you are at the office or in Timbuktu or another part of your house, you can, using your computer, program when the dog goes in or out. If you don’t want the dog out, he won’t get out. And if you don’t want the dog back in, he won’t get in. No matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries—by pressing it with a paw, or moving back 10 feet and then charging forward to slam into it—the door won’t budge. He has to wait. Until you decide.
Logic would tell you that the best thing to do might be to set this up and leave it awhile. A dog could get used to when it’s time to go in and out. It would be a bad thing for you to change things on the fly. That would confuse Fido. He wouldn’t know if he’s coming or going.
The Passport Pet Access Smart System Pet Door is a terrific thing. It also can accommodate up to 20 dogs at the same time. That is to say, you can put these computer chips on all 20 of the dogs you own and then decide who goes out when and who goes in when. According to the brochure accompanying this product, this allows a particular pet, at a particular time, to have the ability to enjoy some alone time from the rest of everybody. He can be out there, sniffing the flowers, chasing butterflies, barking at the mailmen or peeing on the shrubbery (or, alternately, peeing on the mailman, chasing the flowers, sniffing the butterflies or barking at the shrubbery).
Presuming the owner has taken the logic advice mentioned earlier, the dog just has to remember to stop doing this right before the dog door clangs shut again.
Alternately, a dog could be sent out into “isolation” in the yard if he or she has been obstreperous and threatening toward another dog. Bad dog. Out you go.
Another thing a person might do from the office is change the sequence so the entire herd is allowed out during a certain time frame, then locked out, then let back in, for example, an hour later. Play time. But this could result in problems down the road.
The dogs might be confused or anxious in this situation of going out nose to tail to nose to tail and so forth to beat the clock before the door clangs shut, and this might, after a while, give one particular dog, the smartest of the dogs, the Australian Shepherd or Thomas Edison of the dogs, an idea.
If only one dog is supposed to go out at a particular time, it should be possible for another dog to get nose-to-tail behind that dog and sneak out directly behind him before the shutdown occurs. And who would be the wiser?
You know this trick. It happens when you approach a revolving door at the entrance of a big office building. Someone pushes it, and you find if you move fast you can sneak in behind and thus get through without having to push it yourself.
And this could get worse. Pretty soon, in the case of the dog door, you’ll have all the dogs, after having their own “ah ha” moment observing Thomas Edison, doing this. Chaos will reign. Not only at the office, where you will now not be able to be keeping track of everybody, but also at the house itself. Certain dogs, knowing it’s time for Fido to be able to unlock the dog door, will try urging that dog—nudging him, asking him to follow, biting his tail, barking, whatever—to get over there and get out so I can go behind you. If the other dog is not as smart, it will not understand and get irritable and not do it. This creates even more problems.
It might be best, I think, to simply do “herd in” and “herd out,” which, on your computer software, is called the Master Access Option.
I will say this device has one thing in its favor. If there’s a particular beastie outside in your yard, say a raccoon, and he does not have this collar on or if he has one on but it is programmed “no,” he won’t be able to get into your house.
The Passport Pet Access Smart System Pet Door may be right for you. And if it is, then you should also consider a second computer clip-on called “Whistle.” You will not only be able to control where your herd is with the Passport Pet Access Smart System Pet Door system, with “Whistle” you will be able to determine how each of your dogs will feel when you get home.
“Whistle” has an accelerometer chip in its little computer. And where signals with the Passport are mostly from you to the dog and the dog to the door, with “Whistle” the signals are entirely from the dog to you, or, more specifically, your computer.
During your day in Timbuktu or at the office, all your dogs’ accelerometers will be continuously feeding information to you about how many hours they are sleeping, whether they are drinking water (tongue vibrations), or eating food (throat vibrations), or running around exercising or chasing their tails (round and round vibrations). As a result, at the end of the day when you tally things up, you will be able to know before you even put the key in the lock of your front door which of your dogs will be exhausted from exercise, tired from lack of sleep, jump-up happy to see you, or hungry from failing to eat enough food.
You can sort out your dogs and take action.
I’m looking forward to next year’s Global Pet Expo at the Orange County Convention Center. The rumor is that the company Vroom, which makes those Frisbee-sized carpet-cleaning devices that you turn on when you leave your house so the Vroom can go back and forth throughout the house, getting it clean all day…anyway, the rumor is that this company is working on a Pet Vroom, another Frisbee-sized device, which, when turned on, can scour your backyard, find the dog poop, scoop it up, cart it over to the refuse heap and drop it in. It will come in a variety of colors. And yes, Vroom is considered a pet.
People are wondering if it will be able to do the same thing indoors.