I found the coolest little techie gadget when I attended BlogHer last month. It's a little camera called Dropcam and it's the perfect tool for you if you want to keep an eye on your dog while your away from the house.
First, this is not a sponsored post. I won a Dropcam (can't say now that I've never won anything!) from the BlogHer conference and have used it every day since it arrived.
What Is It?
The Dropcam consists of a small camera (4.5" × 3.15" × 3.15") that you plug into a wall socket. As soon as you plug it in and tell it what wi-fi network to connect to, you're up and running. Well, after you create an account (painless).
What Does It Do?
There are lots of different uses for a Dropcam, but I'm limiting this post to what interests dog people.
Peace of Mind. Know that your dogs are safe and secure by checking in on them while you're at work or out running errands. It's a relief for me to know my guys are snoozing while I'm out earning money to put food in their bowls.
Curiosity. What exactly do the dogs do while I'm gone? They sleep. A lot. They also sniff around to see what trouble they can get into. They trade sleeping spots. They bark sometimes if I leave the windows open and they hear the neighbor dogs. They get really excited when they hear me walk down the hallway when I get home!
Information gathering. Exactly how long does it take them to settle in after I leave? Are there any "discussions" between the dogs? Is anyone bossing anyone else around? When do they start to get restless? If there's an <ahem> pile or puddle, just who left it? Who stole the stuff off the counter?
Accountability. Do you wonder if your dog walker really does come and spend time with your dogs? Now you'll know.
Safety. Heaven forbid any tragedies, but hey, if you saw smoke in your house, you could call 911 and tell them to get to your address ASAP. There are documented positive burglar identifications and arrests thanks to the hi-def Dropcam cameras. Pretty worth it.
Pros of the Dropcam: In addition to all the above, I love that the Dropcam is so ridiculously easy to use. You need 2 things: (1) wifi and (2) electricity. If you've got those two things, you'll be up and running in about 2 minutes (honestly). And I'm not a technology whiz.
I also LOVE that it has built-in night vision. And it's really good night vision. I'm impressed at just how clear and sharp the "at night" video is. Warning: when you review the video taken at night, the night vision makes you think ghosts or something supernatural will appear. If you've ever watched any ghost hunting shows, you know what I mean. It looks creepy even when you're just watching your dogs sleep.
You can watch your dogs from almost any tablet, phone, or computer. You also have the ability to talk to your dogs through the Dropcam. I haven't used that feature, though, for fear that my dogs will think I'm home and get a little ballistic. But, still, it's an option that might be attractive to some dog owners.
You get an alert anytime motion is detected. Handy so you don't have to manually scroll through the video to look for movement if you're archiving footage (which I highly recommend).
You have the option to turn the cameras on and off at scheduled intervals. Also, if you desire, you can share the Dropcam feed. Everything's password protected, so no one else can drop in on what's going on unless you're sloppy with your password.
You can pay a nominal fee ($100/year) to have 7 days of video feed available. If you want more video archived, you can pay more money, but I don't think any dog owner will need 30 days of footage. But it's available if you want it.
The cost is ridiculous considering all the features. It's $149. That's it. Crazy inexpensive, isn't it?
Cons: There aren't a whole lot of cons. I guess the $100 for archiving a week's worth of video might be a con. It's not really, I mean $100/year for continually keeping 7 days worth of activity is pretty darn cheap, I think. But hey, it is money afterall.
You are limited to placing the camera where you have (1) wifi and (2) electricity. Again, not a huge con, but I think it's worth mentioning.
I'll be using Dropcam for business purposes when I work with clients who have destructive dogs or dogs with separation anxiety. The camera will give us an honest, accurate look at what's going on in the house after the owners leave: when does the anxioius behavior start, how long does it last, how severe is it?
Those are my thoughts on the Dropcam. Again, I don't have any relationship with the company except that (1) I won a camera and (2) I'm a big fan. If you have questions, feel free to ask me -- I will tell you all I know.
Your turn: what would you use the Dropcam for in your house with your dogs? Please leave a comment below and let me know!