When I first brought home Sherlock, a then eight week-old, impish Labrador puppy, I had no idea what a valuable tool technology could be to pet-owners. Three months later and it has become as important to me as Sherlock’s favourite drool-covered toy with the chewed head is to him.
The first time my dog-sitter cancelled and the pup had to be left on his own for most of the day, technology made its first heroic appearance. After setting up an R2D2-esque camera in the kitchen, I could keep an eye on Sherlock via an app on my smartphone. Not only this, it was even possible to talk to him through the camera (although, as I was to discover, helplessly watching a dog ravage your favourite pair of heels can sully the loving voice of even the most forgiving dog-owner…)
Online subscription boxes are also a new-found vice. Where I used to diligently track every stage of my carefully-selected ASOS order, both the dog and I are now elated when boxes of new toys and puppy treats come through the door, from just a few preferences chosen online.
The plethora of gadgets available to the 21st century pet-owner can make the mind reel, yet there are many developments still in the making. For example the app ‘Finding Rover’ uses facial recognition technology to reunite missing pets with their frantic owners and amazingly, the company already has 600 ‘tails’ of success. Combine this with GPS collars and micro-chipping, and the days of frantically taping handwritten posters to lamp posts diminish even more.
When I was 12, my biggest fantasy (aside from a lifetime supply of jelly beans) was that my chocolate Labrador would be able to talk. Over a decade later, that could well be a reality, with Scandinavian researchers working on ‘No More Woof’, a device to translate your dog’s barking and body language – although hopefully there is a while to go before I’m woken at 6am with adamant, verbalised demands for a five mile walk…
Social media is also becoming more and more dog-friendly, with websites that give the ‘dog-less’ a chance to loan a pooch for the day, giving us owners a brief, yet cherished, respite from chaos. Sites like these are cropping up all over the place, even going as far as a canine version of Tinder, ‘Tindog’, (although I think young Sherlock and I will be passing on this one).
With owners being more willing to spend on pet-friendly tech and the industry evolving more with each passing year, I for one will be keeping a close eye on what is yet to come. As for Sherlock, he will be keeping a close eye on what is yet to come from the fridge…