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Mary K. Moore Headshot

Want to Stalk Your Dog? There's an App for That

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I was never a dog person. They always reminded me of rabid game show contestants, their enthusiasm overshooting any given situation, be it a car, a refrigerator or a perfect stranger.

Then came Holly.

As Rhianna would say, we fell in love in a hopeless place. Namely, the local animal shelter. Like a lot of misguided families, we were "just looking" when we stumbled upon the doe-like Basenji mix. By the next evening, she was warming herself by our fireplace and staking claim to a bed pillow. If it's possible to find "the one" when it comes to dogs, Holly could easily be labeled my soulmate. Despite not having owned a dog in 20 plus years, we bonded instantly over a habit of grooming ourselves fastidiously and a refusal to submit. In fact, if there were a match.com for people and pets, Holly and I would be one of those smug couples on the commercial, laughing and play swatting, strolling with hand and paw looped in mutual jean pockets. Three years later, our love is just as fierce. Every day, I am greeted like a returning solider and Holly my war bride as she sprints down the driveway into my arms, finally reuniting a whole eight hours since our last embrace. "Have you ever seen a love like this?" I ask my husband imploringly, human and canine heads emerging from the same sweater neck hole. "No," he says flatly to the conjoined companions. "I can honestly say, no."

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Given our ongoing love affair, it didn't shock him when I emerged from the Apple store with the "Stay in Touch with Your Dog" Tagg email and text alert system. "You're going to email each other now?" he asked incredulously. Having facilitated a Skype session between us, this, to him, seemed the last bastion of dog insanity before matching necklace blood vials or tribute tattoos.

"No," I corrected him. I explained Tagg was an email and text locator app for the phone allowing me to track Holly remotely via a homing device on her collar. Although mostly an indoor dog, Holly had free run of our five acres. Tagg would issue both automatic or manual alerts when she was out of bounds. So no, I wasn't emailing Holly. I was stalking her.

As I read more about the device online, I switched over to read a related link about a portable Amber Alert system for children. In reference to my daughter I remarked, "Hey, it has a button she can push if she's ever in trouble."

"Jesus!" my husband said, throwing his hands in the air. "Your dog is the opposite of Lassie! 'Help! I'm in the well!' How does she know she's in trouble in the first place?" To his credit, he didn't mention my purchase of one alert device over the other.

But like with all things Holly related, he came around. Shortly after I arrived home with my prize, my husband presented me with my phone with the new Tagg app installed. "You can now text your dog," he said, still shaking his head.

After charging the unit, I clipped the device to her collar and activated the system. "She looks nervous," I observed. "Probably because she knows she's being followed," said my husband. Unhappy with the generic texting alert, I personalized it to appear as "Holly" on my phone contact list complete with a charming photo. I was giddy receiving my first text. "Hey, this is Holly," it read. "I'm where I'm supposed to be." I wondered what would happen if I texted back, "Great. I love you." I imagined someone in the receiving end of Tagg headquarters saying over their cubicle, to no one in particular, "Man, now I've seen everything..."

While most people might welcome a text from a best friend, I light up at a message from woman's best friend. "Hey, it's my dog!" I proudly exclaim, as if she typed it herself, hairy brow furrowed, her long nails clicking away on the phone's tiny keypad. I can also locate her manually when the mood strikes me. One quick tap, she appears on my phone, a blue dot moving about the map of our property, making mischief "x" amount of feet from home base. "Looks like she's only a few yards from the house," I announce, as if the people around me could finally breathe easy and stop worrying.

At least about the dog.

I joked to my husband that maybe we could get a Tagg alert for me for Holly. "Or she could simply track you through online banking," he offered.

In any case, I imagine the map would look something like this: two blue dots headed straight for one another until their ultimate, happy collision. Lost but now found.

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