As Alfie is off to collect Wilma he said I could write his diary for an extra day while he’s travelling. I thought it would be a good chance to tell you all about my test of the Tracca Pet GPS tracking collar. If you have ever lost your best friend you’ll know that feeling of panic that goes with it. I can assure you, from our point of view, unless we are in pursuit of an in season bitch we’re just as worried as you are. Being separated from our human even if it is because we got carried away and can’t find our way back is a terrifying experience. Anyway, the idea behind Tracca is that I get to wear a special gadget on my collar and you get to find me easily if I’ve wandered off.
It works by having its own phone number, which I think is pretty cool, so there is a little
sim card thingy inside that makes it work to send out a signal when you need to contact it. It has a waterproof cover and fits onto a special collar (a rather nice one by Ancol at that) or an ordinary one that is narrow enough to fit through the casing. It doesn’t fit on a quick release collar as the ends of those are too thick to go through.
Your human can set up a radius from your home that is a normal area that you usually spend time in and then if you go out of that area it immediately sends a text alert to your human telling them exactly where you are. It also sends a text when the battery is low so that you remember to recharge it. It was cool, it sent one to our Mistress while she was in a business meeting and she really wanted someone to ask who her text was from so she could say ‘It’s from my dog.’
You don’t need a mobile phone contract to run it. You just have a pay as you go phone card and top it up with just a small amount of data use and texts. As long as you don’t text it all the time to see where it is then the credit lasts for ages so it’s cheap to run. Under £2 a month should be plenty.
It’s easy to recharge from your computer and does not take long.
So what are the downsides? Although the battery life is quoted as 880 hours we didn’t find it lasted anything like that length of time; having said that, if you lose your dog it is the first few hours which are the really critical ones. That means if you charge it on a regular basis that doesn’t need to
stop its effectiveness. As battery technology improves that may change. Also for us we live in a poor signal area and the fact that so often it was looking for a signal may well mean the battery ran down faster. It can be the same with other devices.
That brings me on to the biggest problem we faced. We live in a rural area and getting a good mobile phone signal is almost impossible. We did find better coverage on one network, but it is important to make sure you have got a decent signal for the Tracca to work effectively. Our concern was that the times you might really want to rely on it, walking in remote hills, would be exactly the times the signal would be poor or non-existent or good but with a different provider than you would have at home.
The unit is quite big. I got used to wearing it on my collar and it didn’t really bother me, but I’m a 29kg dog. I think if I were a small dog I’d find it a bit of an inconvenience.
The instructions have been written by users to make sure that they are easy to understand. Like all technology once you get the hang of it, it is very straightforward and the app is really rather fun.
Who do I think it would be most suited to? Well if I were a city dog where phone reception is good, it really would be a good way to find me if I were to go walkabout when I shouldn’t. I also think it would be great for dogs whose humans are a little nervous of letting them off the lead. That would be a win:win. The human could have the confidence to let their four-legged friend have a bit more freedom and the dog could enjoy a bit of free running, safe in the knowledge that their human knows exactly where they are. It is very precise in locating a dog so if you have a reading you will know where to find them and can even use street view or satellite view to help you recognise the location.
It is a great idea and really would provide a way to find a dog quickly and in a situation where time is critical. Am I going to keep using it? Quite possibly yes, but only after a new phone mast goes up, which is happening in a couple of months. Until then the coverage really isn’t good enough where we are – but that’s the exception rather than the rule! The unit itself costs £140, but that is a one off charge and let’s face it, compared with the risk of losing us it’s got to be worth that. One day every dog will have one and there will be far fewer lost dogs as a result.
I’d like to thank Tracca for letting me test this for them.
You can find more about Tracca and buy one HERE
You can find short stories to read at www.alfiedog.com
Alfie’s Diary – the Book as well as our other books are available HERE