Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pet tech: Geeky gear for your dogs and cats


By Jorge Sosa

Pity poor Fido and Fluffy. Given the state of today's economy, it's no surprise veterinarians report people are spending less on preventative care for their cats and dogs.

Maybe you're tightening your belt, too. Or maybe you're such an animal-lovin' propellerhead, you can't resist checking out the latest goofy gadgets for your furry family.

Sigh. I thought so. Well, here's a gaggle of geeky geegaws for you, the discerning pet owner. They range from the practical to the pointless, and I've abitrarily rated them in terms of usefulness. A score of 5 means said gadget is pure genius. A score of 1 means if you're seriously thinking about buying said piece of junk, I encourage you to have your head examined.

To be fair, it's not like I've individually tested each gadget in the field. I'm applying my curmudgeonly common sense here, but I've been wrong before. If I actually got my hands on a doggy MP3 player, I might wonder how I ever got along without one. But, I doubt it.

Innobitz JooZoo Diamond MP3 player

How big can the market possibly be for a gold-and-diamond encrusted, heart-shaped, MP3-playing necklace for your dog? I imagine it's not much bigger than Paris Hilton's immediate social circle.

If you must know, the JooZoo retails between $1,500 and $2,000. It comes with a remote control and the manufacturer claims it will improve your dog's health. It reportedly responds to your dog's behavior and plays appropriate music to both stimulate and relax your pooch. That's great, but won't a good belly rub achieve the same effect at much less expense?


Visiglo Fashion Collar Bones

Now this is more like it. For less than $25, this dog collar provides all the bling FiFi needs. It's practical, too. The collar features teeny flashing LED bones. If flashing pawprints are more your style, suit yourself. Either style is available with a matching flashing LED leash, further enhancing FiFi's visibility when you're out for an evening stroll.


GoDogGo automatic fetch machine

This contraption reminds me of one those pitching machines you see at batting cages. You can program it to automatically launch tennis balls every seven or 15 seconds, at ranges of 15 to 30 feet. Or, you can use the accompanying remote control. It's designed so Fido can even load the darned thing himself, by dropping the slobbery tennis balls into a bucket.

Why do I give this thing a rating of 3? Because it's my opinion that the point of fetch is for Fido's owner to get a workout along with Fido. But I imagine not all dog owners out there are physically able to keep up with their dogs' enthusiasm, due to perfectly valid health concerns. For these folks, the GoDogGo is probably worth every penny of its $150 retail price.