Sports, business & technology

Hot Dogs, Part Deux

Aba has a microchip!On my way out of the JOG A DOG treadmill area, I picked up a copy of Modern Dog Magazine, a full-color periodical with advertisements equally as entertaining, if not more so, than the content, featuring all sorts of niche products for your pooch from clothing to jewelry to organic food.

Two products particularly caught Sportsbiztech’s eye. The first was Komfort Pets, a “climate-controlled pet carrier.” Complete with a digital thermostat that measures the outside air, the carrier then tells owners how much heating or cooling they need to set for their pets to be comfortable. The second was RoamEO, a GPS tracking system for pets. The dog wears a GPS-enabled collar while the owner can track his or her movements within a one-mile radius on an LCD screen.

I headed backstage at the Westminster Dog Show to the “holding area,” a vast sea of purple and gold cubicles housing more than 2,500 dogs. Excited at the prospect of techie gear galore, I instead faced rows of traditional pet carriers – some metal, some wooden, some plastic – all with fans attached to their exteriors. And no GPS tracking devices to be found.

Feeling duped, I decided to talk to Joyce Meier, who was helping her friend, owner Susan Babich, watch over Aba (pronounced AY-bah, full name: Ch. Rocklane’s Relive the Magic), a golden retriever that competed at Westminster on Tuesday. I showed the Komfort Pets ad to her and asked whether this was becoming the norm at dog shows, or whether she personally knew anyone who used climate-controlled carriers.

“No,” said Meier, who is from Seattle and is a golden retriever owner herself. “It’s probably quite expensive. There’s other more important things to spend the money on…like going to [dog] shows, coming to Westminster.”

Ah. Sportsbiztech simply assumed that technology would be the driving force for change within this society of dog show owners, breeders and handlers. Instead, these tech toys may very well just comprise one tiny tail trying – and failing – to wag a very big dog.

Meier then looked at the picture of the RoamEO GPS device and couldn’t stop laughing. “Well, I like them in cars! But I don’t think I’ll get one for the dog!”

Meier explained that the normal practice to track dogs like Aba is to have microchips – AVID and HomeAgain are two major players on the market – inserted underneath the pet’s skin and subsequently registered with a veterinarian. “If someone picks up your dog, a pound or any other veterinarian can read the chip and it will tell them who the dog belongs to,” she said. The chips, which all have unique alphanumeric codes, are equipped with insurance and other benefits.

“It’s getting too high-tech,” Meier said in general of the new gadgets on the market. “It’s getting out of hand.”

Then again, Vivi is still missing.

P.S. Congrats to Uno the Beagle (Ch. K-Run’s Park Me in First) for his unexpected “Best in Show” win on Tuesday night, the first ever for his breed. His beagle brother Snoopy would be proud. Go to for all sorts of streaming video from this year’s competition and from years past.


February 14, 2008 - Posted by | Westminster Dog Show | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. go uno! america’s numero uno beagle! he sure showed that poodle (or two)!

    Comment by guest | February 25, 2008 | Reply

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