Digital Slob
Curt Brandao

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Digital Age
pet gadgets

For better or worse, pets of Digital Slobs and Respectable People alike follow in our characteristic footsteps, even if they make twice as many tracks.

Slob pets are easy to spot. After summer walks, they collapse in a heap on the kitchen's linoleum floor, standing later only to recollapse the other way to cool their other side. Then they can be out for days, perhaps roused only momentarily by the unexpected sound of their own expelling gases.

To be fair, they likely learned this behavior by watching their Slob owners coming in late on Friday nights.

On the other hand, the prototypical Respectable Pet is perhaps best represented by my sister's Pomeranian, Puffy, known in some family circles as the Furry Faberge Egg.

Several times a year, GiGi chauffeurs her Pom a significant distance down the Interstate to visit our mom. While an overnight bag is plenty for her, the car's trunk is nevertheless packed to the hilt with all of Puffy's accouterments.

Long after arrival, Puffy's seat belt remains secure while GiGi unloads his heavy gear -- the baby gates that will contain Puffy to the upstairs area and bathrooms, a doggie bed, an entire Tupperware set filled with treats, and what can only be described as a small, canine pharmacy in a Ziploc bag.

Simultaneous to GiGi's intense roadie activity outside, Mom will busy herself inside securing the mutts in steerage (including a beagle-mix named Daisy, and whatever other relatives, once or twice removed, are in the house at the time). Only after this is Puffy cleared to deboard the Maxima.

To be fair, some pets need more help than others.

Then again, there are heads of state that don't have the advance team Puffy has.

Fortunately, however you paint your pet insanity, the Digital Age has accessories to match. Beginning this week, we'll take quick looks at some high-tech pet gadgets:

GoDogGo, $150 (www.buygodoggo.com). Too busy/lazy to play catch with Fido? Subcontract it out with this automated fetch machine. Almost identical to its tennis-court big brother (less power, more slobber), this battery-powered bucket shoots out balls in intervals. Once taught to reload it, Fido can theoretically keep himself occupied way past the next presidential election.

Still, pets love what they know, so if your house catches fire, don't be hurt if you awake to find your dog dragging GoDogGo to safety instead of you.

Dog-e-Tag, $40 (www.dog-e-tag.com). With this digital ID that stores up to 400 characters on 40 lines, your pet's collar-hanging backstory can be vetted well beyond name, rank and phone number.

Perfect for a lost pet with special needs (deaf, blind, etc.). But most doggie biographers will likely get writer's block about 50 characters in.

Cats, however, lead multi-layered lives that would be must-reads for Good Samaritans, even at 10 characters/ line. Here's an example:

"My name is/Snowball./If lost my/phone # is/555-1234./I'm spayed/so my only/ joy in lif/e now is D/annon Yogu/rt but not/the lumpy/ kind the f/luffy kind/and not th/e offbrand/stuff at/the outlet/grocery./If I don't/get it I w/ill pee be/hind your/bed so you/will remem/ber your m/istake eve/ry night f/or the res/t of your/life./Puurrrrrr."

Next week: More pet gadgets.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.
Also see www.digitalslob.com

Curt Brandao is the Star-Bulletin's production editor. Reach him at: cbrandao@starbulletin.com

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