Several years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about GPS Tracking Systems for dogs, and wishing that they were available. There was a bit of a confusion, when “micro-chipping” came out because people thought that if they got their dogs “chipped”, they would be able to track them. That would be an amazing idea, but it simply wasn’t true.

I first learned about micro-chips fourteen years ago, when I got my dog, Emma. Part of the “puppy package” that came with her was an initial vet check, vaccines, and a micro-chip. Micro-chips are about the size of a grain of sand and are injected, under the skin, right around the back of the neck or shoulder area. While the needle they use to inject these, certainly looks horrible, it’s a procedure that takes seconds, literally. Emma was the first of our pack to get chipped but she wasn’t the last. In my opinion, I feel that it is one of the best pro-active things that a pet owner can do. Why? If your pet gets lost and looses her collar, and is either picked up by animal control or taken to a vets office, by some good samaritan, the animal control officer or the vets office both have a scanner that they can run over your pets body. If there is a micro-chip, it will pop up with all of your information. This is a great thing because you can then be contacted, as long as you keep your information up-to-date, and voila, your pet is home, safe and sound! It is relatively inexpensive to have your local vet insert the chip and there are no monthly or yearly fees. The vets office will give you the phone number to the company who keeps track of these chips and you can contact them, directly, to update your information, should you move or if your phone number changes.

There have been a couple of court cases where a dog has run off, someone takes the dog in, does not contact the owners, and decides to keep the dog. The owners find out who has their dog, tries to get the pet back, only to be denied taking back ownership. Thanks to a micro-chip, that had been injected into the pet, they were legally returned back to their rightful owner as the information in the chip showed proof of legal ownership. Also, since it is placed under the skin, it cannot be removed by someone nor can it fall off or get lost.

Please note: micro-chips are NOT GPS tracking devices and will only be able to help you reunite with your pet IF the pet is picked up and taken to a shelter or a vets office. However, in the event that your pet does come up missing, you can call the micro-chip folks, tell them them that Fido is missing, and they will send an alert, complete with photo, of your pet to all local veterinary offices, kind of like an APB or All Points Bulletin, that the police send out to find people. It is an amazing service and I highly recommend it for any pet owners; dogs, cats, horses, pigs, whatever you may want to find, should it happen to wander off.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to foster a puppy that was born completely deaf; he was one of three in his litter that was born this way. I was able to place the two girls but I guess we were meant to have the boy because he fit right in, except that he kept getting lost in our yard! We were out of town one weekend and my daughter, who was house-sitting, called me…FRANTIC! She had been searching the entire backyard and could not find Buddy! Since he was deaf, he could hear her calling for him. She was convinced that he had somehow gotten out of the yard and had wandered off, into the night. Poor thing was a wreck. Thankfully, maybe because of all of the commotion from her running around, he woke up and came sauntering out from behind the feed shed, where he had found a nice soft pile of hay to sleep in. Needless to say, this event got me looking into ways to “locate” the dogs, should something like this happen again.

I was at a local hardware store and saw “Tile”. That is the small device that is advertised more for your keys and other small items that can easily get lost. Through some research, I found out that it could easily be used for dogs by simply attaching it to their collars, like a name tag. You then download the app, on your phone, and set your “boundaries”. Every time they dog moves outside of those limits, you get a notification on your phone.  You can also ask to “locate” the item and it will start ringing the piece that is on the collar. It was great to have, in our back yard. The problem was that it has a very limited range and the only way that it can be tracked, outside of that range, is if other people have the app on their phones and it picks up the signal from your dogs tag. While that may work good in the city, out here in the country, where we can go miles without seeing another human being, that does not work so well. I kept looking.

One day, I was listening to news radio, while I was driving, and heard an advertisement for the Link AKC Collar. This is a GPS collar that enables you to find your pet, as long as there is cell phone service, specifically within AT&T tower areas.I started comparing all of the GPS collars, reading reviews, and weighing the pros and cons for each. These are not as inexpensive as micro-chips or Tiles, so I wanted to make sure that I looked into all that I could before purchasing one of them. I ended up going with the Link AKC as it had the best reviews, is waterproof, and acts a lot like a fitness band that you and I would wear. It even has a camera on it and a “night light”, in case you need to, oh I don’t know, find a sleeping deaf dog in the dark.

I ordered two of these units, for my youngest daughters two dogs who will be relocating to her and her husbands place on the East Coast. I wanted them to feel secure that their dogs would be safe, even though they will be in a brand new place. (Honestly, it has given me more peace-of-mind than it has given them, I think.) So far, I have been very impressed with Link. The collar, GPS attachment, and charger are all very high quality, as is the shipping containers that they come in. (These would be GREAT for Christmas gifts.) The directions were a little vague, specifically on charging and setting up your account, so I called the phone number, on the web site and was talking to a real, live human being, who was located in the US, in less than five minutes. I explained that the dogs would be going to live with my daughter and they took all of her information, walked me through he set-up process, and bam, I was in business! The cost for the service varies, depending on if you want to pay monthly, annually, or bi-annually. I chose the annual option, which was about eight dollars per month. In my mind, that is well worth knowing I’ve just increased the chances of finding a potential “misplaced dog”.

Since I just received these, and successfully set them up, I will have to follow up in a later blog, on how I think these actually work. I am just thrilled that there are actually GPS options out there, specially created to reunite us with our wandering fur-babies!

Many blessings to you and your four-legged-loves ~ Tammy

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