The Old Trainer: High-tech app helps fetch lost dogs

February 21, 2014 

D ear Old Trainer: A neighbor said she heard of a phone app that somehow tracks lost dogs. Our 2-year-old dachshund, Mimi, is part of our family and we want to take every precaution to keep her safe. If it exists we want to get it.

DAVID

Orinda

Dear David: A phone app for lost dogs does indeed exist, David, and it’s one of the cleverest uses of technology you’ll ever see. It’s called Finding Rover and you can’t argue with the price – it’s free to all.

You just take a picture of Mimi with your phone – they make it easy by including a recorded bark at the press of key so she looks right at the phone – then upload it to the website along with your name and phone number.

Meanwhile, anyone who finds a lost dog takes a picture and posts it to the website with the date and location where they found it.

If Mitzi gets lost, you notify the website and it uses facial recognition technology to match her face against every dog in the system.

If someone has posted a picture of Mitzi, the app gives you the information on where to find her.

If someone finds Mitzi they take a picture and post it and the site immediately gives them your name and number.

I recommend it to everyone who has a dog and everyone who loves dogs. Millions of dogs are lost every year, and if everyone has this app most of them will be returned to their home. Here is where you download it: www.findingrover.com.

Dear Old Trainer: Congratulations. I know how hard you work to change the focus of dog shows, so I loved watching mixed breeds compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in history. Will we see more of this?

– Kathy

Boulder, Colo.

Dear Kathy: Thank you, Kathy, but it was the voice of thousands of dog owners like you who persuaded Westminster to include mixed breeds.

I take my hat off to the officials at Westminster. They are the biggest and best-known dog show and it took courage to tell the world they were putting dogs first from now on.

It was long overdue and will have a positive effect on all dogs and all dog shows.

For those who missed it, Westminster allowed mixed breeds – under the classification of American mutts – to compete in the agility contests during the event, and the mutts stole the show.

Dog shows once had a noble purpose, but over the years they lost their way.

Judging – unqualified people making capricious interpretations of arbitrary standards – made them a laughingstock, and they became a marketing arm for greedy breeders.

The result is the 7 million dogs euthanized every year in the United States, many of them purebreds sold by those same breeders.

Westminster opened the door and the American mutts did the rest. They showed the world what everyone who ever had a mutt already knew – they are smart, loyal and full of love.

They reminded everyone that unconditional love and a big heart are why dogs are special, not what their coat looks like.

Good job, Westminster, good job mutts.

Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to theoldtrainer@gmail.com.

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