Video Chatting With Your Four-Legged Friends Karen Belz

When you need to leave a pet at home during a vacation – or even the opposite of a vacation (like a day at work) – you might wish you had a way to check in. Unfortunately, pets are incapable of sending text messages filled with emojis. A company in Minnesota called PetChatz thought of the next best thing – interactive video chatting.

Here’s how it works: You set up the monitor at eye-level for your pet back at home, and once you “call in” using your computer or phone, the pet can see you on the screen through a Wifi connection. If your pet isn’t having a crazy house party in your absence, you can award him or her with a treat that dispenses at the click of an (internet) button. PetChatz also includes ‘scentz pads’ that have a calming effect when your pet is close by. This amazing advancement of technology, which will be available early next year in the United States and Canada, is currently over 300 dollars. You heard me right.

Now, I can see pros and cons with this device. I have a dog and a cat, and I love them to death. Sometimes if I need a good pick-me-up during the work day, I scroll through some pictures of them I’ve saved on my phone. And by “some pictures”, I mean 100 pictures. But at the same time, I like knowing that I can trust them being home alone. It’s part of their routine. And if I happen to catch my cat destroying a sofa during a spontaneous video chat, there’s not much I can do about it from a distance. Besides yell at her, which isn’t productive and makes me look like a crazy person if people happen to be nearby during the check-in.

Another con is, I’d have to train my pets to respond to the specific ringtone that the device produces. And while the ringtone that PetChatz uses seems to be ridiculously pleasant, I’m currently at a stage where I need to remind my pets on a daily basis that paper towels aren’t toys, nor are they as interesting as they dream them to be. Keep in mind, my pets (Burly and Finn, for future reference) are pretty darn smart. While I think Burly would respond to the catchy tone, he’d view it more as “tone means treats”, as opposed to “tone means having a forced conversation with my female human.” Kind of similar to Pavlov’s dog.

Here are a few pros: It’s adorable. Seriously – did you watch the video above? If not, please do. That dog pretty much leaps off the couch for a chance to video chat, and does a pretty impressive “sit” for his human companion. (He probably also owns his own iPad and runs an online business on Etsy, but that’s unfortunately not covered in the advertisement.)

And as a bonus, owners can record their pets during the chat, to re-watch later. Thus, you can tape a whole demo reel of your pet being amazing without actually being in the room with them.

This is my dog tweeting. Yes, he has his own twitter account. So obviously, dogs and technology are a hilarious combination to me.

This is my dog tweeting. Yes, he has his own twitter account. So obviously, dogs and technology are a hilarious combination to me.

I think that if I ever left my pets at home for a long period of time, it’d be a good reassurance for me to see their faces, as opposed to texting the dogsitter 900 times to make sure everything is okay. There’s only been one occasion this past year where my husband and I had to leave the dog and cat at home with someone (my sister-in-law) and despite the fact that she’s extremely responsible, trustworthy and fond of animals, we were still nervous wrecks about the whole thing.

PetChatz isn’t the only advice for long distance pet relationships. A 15-year-old from Washington named Brooke Martin from Spokane, Washington recently developed the iCPooch, an Internet-enabled device powered by a Raspberry Pi computer, which also dog owners to video chat with their pets and deliver dog treats from afar. Her device, however, is only at the prototype stage. If two people thought this idea would work, who knows what’ll be revealed next in terms of animals and technology.

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