New app connects pet owners, caregivers

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The TrustedHousesitters app is a new way for pet parents to connect with caring, verified house and pet sitters who are willing to take care of pets for free. Available on the App Store, the app is free to download and enables owners and sitters to connect and stay in touch, no matter where they are in the world. 

Timed to celebrating the app’s launch, TrustedHousesitters compiled culminated a top 100 list, after two years of polling animal lovers in 130 countries about their favorite pet-friendly destinations. Several Oregon venues made the list, including Multnomah Falls, along with several Portland-area cafés — Bipartisan Cafe, Fleur de Lis Bakery & Café, and Barista Café.  

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Bipartisan was the most popular with animal lovers surveyed, ranking #59. Fleur de Lis ranked #62, and Barista ranked #86.  

Greg, Manager of the Fleur de Lis, said, “Dogs and other pets are always welcome . . . . They are considered to be just as important as our human customers. Our patio is comfortable for your pet year round”. 

Also making the list at #95 is Mark Ridges Winery, where pet lovers can soak up the views, live music and wine, while their pooch plays with the two resident Golden Retrievers. 

Tim Lyons, managing director of TrustedHousesitters said: “We are extremely proud of the pet-friendly cafes in Portland, they have put Oregon on the map as a pet-loving state. All four coffee shops and restaurants have had numerous recommendations.” 

See the full list of the 100 most pet-friendly places in the world at trustedhousesitters.com/top-pet-friendly-places.

New lift for pets

The Roadie, Inc. is the latest option for transporting pets and other items, whether across town or many miles. By tapping into the more than one billion square-feet of available capacity in passenger vehicles already on the road, Roadie works to save senders time and money, while also providing safe and friendly pet travel.

Senders can use Roadie’s website or app to get a free estimate, set up a gig, and track their pet in real time. Only verified drivers can offer to drive pets, and owners can personally select their pet’s drivers. Roadie offers 24/7 customer support, and pet owners can keep in touch with their drivers every step of the way.

Roadie recently partnered with the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF) to raise funding for and awareness of canine cancer. The company has pledged to donate a portion of proceeds from every pet gig completed nationwide to the NCCF. To help ease the burden of safely getting pets to and from the vet’s office and cancer treatments, Roadie offers reduced rates to the NCCF community.

Learn more about sending pets with Roadie at: roadie.com/pets.

New “pet sitter” fun for pets and their people

The Pebby company has introduced a robotic pet sitter system that allows pet parents to monitor, interact with and entertain their pets anytime, from anywhere.  A combo smart collar and Wi-Fi-controlled “ball” that follows pets around, tracking furry loved ones’ activities and sends insights about their behavior and health to the Pebby companion app.

The Pebby ball can be remotely-controlled, houses a wide-angle/fisheye video camera, provides 1.5 hours of playtime and 15 hours in standby mode, allowing pet parents to watch, interact with and capture their pets' cutest candid moments in real time. Among its many other features are built-in speakers and a laser toy that’s safe for people and pets.

"We created a holistic pet-care system that delivers complete peace of mind to pet owners,” said Hansen Goh, Pebby founder and CEO. “Pebby allows pet owners to engage with their pets remotely, capturing candid images and monitoring their health and wellness, while also keeping pets entertained while at home.”

Learn more at getpebby.com.

Winning app a favorite with pet lovers

People who love sharing pictures and videos of their furry family members now have a new way to show off all those nutty little moments that make pet parenting so much fun. Storehouse, the app that makes it easy to tell stories using photos and videos, launched on iPhone in September.  Storehouse enables users to combine photos, videos and words from a variety of platforms into a narrative layout, easily creating a visual story to share with family and friends.  “With Storehouse for iPhone, we want to show people how easy it can be to tell stories with all of the photos and videos they are taking,” says Mark Kawano, co-founder and CEO of Storehouse.  The app won Apple’s 2014 Design Award, and was previously available only on iPad. 

Visit Storehouse.co to see a variety of stories, such as:  Mini Penny Pig, Pixel and Phoebe: a Love Story, or Along Came Jorge, the tale of a family of felines. 

Vue Zone Home Monitoring System

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We've Been Shopping!  Here's what we love...

While reviewing Tagg - The Pet Tracker (June ’12), a home video monitoring system (Vue Zone) was also recommended.  The product rep said, “You're going to love keeping track of your pet online through the cameras.”  Honestly, I thought it sounded nuts to have my pets on a GPS tracker and video monitoring, but we did love it!  In fact rather than return the products graciously loaned for the review, we’re considering renewing the services.

We installed four Vue Zone pet cams inside and outside our home, and we could view feeds from any of them through our "Personal Video Network" online.

Among multiple features, the cameras can be set to record a photo or video when sensing motion.  The view is "surveillance quality," meaning grainy, but I could always tell what I looking at.  Live action is available to view at all times, and all the cameras can be monitored simultaneously, or one view can be zoomed in for detail.  

Vue Zone cameras are cordless, so installation was fast and easy (easy to place out of reach, no cords to hide).  I loved being able to check in on our newly adopted dog, Maddie, watching her sleep day after day.  At first I got excited at every yawn, but eventually considered installing a home phone just to use the answering machine to get a reaction out of my lazy (and apparently boring!) dog.

While pet sitting two other dogs it was great being able to check in and know they were getting on well when left together — and (bonus!) I got to see some actual activity!  The cameras also added home security, which was great during a three-day trip.  It was so easy to log on and click a camera to see the house, complete with our car still parked outside.  

A huge value was discovered one day when I logged on while at work.  Maddie’s leg was caught in a tight hold in her collar.  I found her sitting calmly on the couch, but if she tried to walk around she might have choked.  My pet-loving boss sent me home early to untangle the poor dog.  What a great relief to be able to prevent her getting hurt or suffering.  

I’d love to see this system at a friend's who has several cats.  While kitties nap a lot (up to 20 hours a day!) they also do things that are fun to watch, like play together, and chase shadows and flies.  Plus, if you had cats not getting along you might be get ideas for facilitating this when you're away.

Overall, this is a great product that serves multiple purposes, including home monitoring and pet viewing.

Visit VueZone.com for more details, photos and pricing.  

Tagg — The Pet Tracker

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Mention a microchip and many people will ask — “is that GPS for your dog?”  Unfortunately, no.  But, Tagg — The Pet Tracker is the next best thing.  It attaches to your dog or cat's collar and follows his or her movements.

The online tracking system allows the user to view the movements of his/her dog, not just the current location.  This feature is great for a constantly escaping dog — even if he's lost his collar or didn't have it on, one may be able to guess his whereabouts based on previous journeys that have been logged on the Tagg website.  The tracker itself securely fastens to the dog's collar, and looks sleek, but is slightly bulky.  Most reviewers have noted that the tracker never accidentally came off the collar, but my dog was attacked by another dog who bit the tracker off.  In our many forest walks through underbrush and during routine rough play it stayed securely attached and was never damaged.  It is also waterproof.

Having a GPS for a dog who frequently or occasionally escapes a yard or enclosure would greatly reduce dog-related stress.  I have a newly adopted dog and greatly enjoyed the peace of mind of a locator device, especially when we began taking her off leash.

The device is easy to set up and gives prompt and reliable notifications through text and email.  The Tagg Tracker has a long battery life — staying charged for up to 30 days.  The cost is reasonable at 99.95 for the whole setup, which includes one Tagg Tracker, one docking station, collar clip assembly and power kit.  After one free month, the service costs $7.95 per month.

PAWS:  4.5 out of 5 (Won't it be nice when we can implant it? Or will it?)  I gave a slightly lower ranking because it was hard for me to remember to turn off the tracking when we went on an outing, and then turn it back on when I wanted to make sure our dog was being tracked.  My boyfriend was much better at this, so for the tech-savvy, mindful people this is likely not an issue.

More information at PetTracker.com.  

Breaks are better with kitty-time

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Instead of computer solitaire during a break, what could be better than playing with a kitty.  The Oregon Humane Society website now has a program through which users can set in motion one of three toys in the adoptable cattery.  The download is fast and free, and allows players to virtually “play” with the kitties.  Playtime is limited to two-minute sessions, but players can jump back in line as often as they like.  Rumor has it it’s more addictive than solitaire.  Check it out at OregonHumane.org/playroom

YouTube for pet lovers

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For those who can’t get enough adorable animal footage, a new YouTube channel is just the ticket.  The Petsami channel is dedicated solely to animals, with regular shows such as “Puppies vs. Kittens,” “Ask a Tiger,” and “One Minute Meerkat.”  The channel also offers “Leashline News” hosted by Monkey Parker, a muttley dog who tells inspirational stories from the canine perspective, such as what it takes to be a therapy or seeing-eye dog.  Check out these shows and more at YouTube.com/Petsami.