How To Keep Your Phone from Being Gone After You Die

Cellphone technology seems to improve by leaps and bounds each year, but making a call on a dog is as far away as ever. “It is still a challenge to perform even basic tasks,”…

How To Keep Your Phone from Being Gone After You Die

Cellphone technology seems to improve by leaps and bounds each year, but making a call on a dog is as far away as ever.

“It is still a challenge to perform even basic tasks,” said Samuel Ballard, director of the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen program, at the Boston Canine Industry Symposium in Boston last week. “The canine regulator features have improved considerably and I’m impressed with advances in the sound receptors to allow much greater range. … We see, however, that the overall function of the system is inferior to human ones.”

Smartphones and cellular services, once thought to be inferior to human technologies, have, in fact, improved dramatically in recent years. Just look at the latest developments: Smartphone-based screens are far bigger and brighter. Apple and Samsung recently unveiled the biggest smartphones to date: a 6.5-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and a 6.1-inch screen on the Apple iPhone XS Max. And these big screens are used for more than just watching videos.

According to Garner Research, a digital-device research company, 20 percent of smartphone owners use their devices while performing some type of in-person activity. Smartphones are now practically essential to our daily lives—and since they’re always with us, they are proving a viable replacement for our wallets, credit cards and passports. Many can’t live without them, so the constant need to check and refresh their emails, map and phone apps can make for an inescapable routine.

You could, of course, make a mental note to always have your phone nearby. If you ever feel tempted to take your phone out to check your email for work purposes, though, that’s a different story. And that gets to why dog phones seem to be so elusive. Though cellphones haven’t quite made their way into the pups’ homes, there are some ingenious devices that attempt to take cues from modern communication systems.

One of these, called “Hello Kitty” by dog behavioralist David and Laurie Vreeland, is a furry smartphone made from natural materials (it’s basically a retro ornaments made of polymer). Made of dyed wood, allen yarn and moss, the Hello Kitty phone is outfitted with a vibrator, LED lights and a speaker. The pets at St. Andrews University in Scotland have reported that the Hello Kitty phones were used for fetching treats, commiserating about the weather, glancing at the time and calling other animals they like.

Like the kitten phone, some pet-phone-making devices are light and portable—imagine if you could have a full-size cellphone in the palm of your hand? That is exactly what some pet owners are hoping for when it comes to their pets’ smartphones, by designing a device specifically for their furry friends. But pet-phone-making companies aren’t yet willing to give up their coveted pets, relying on the assumptions that their animals will be able to contain their phone use for the duration of a minute, like human babies do.

Though it’s not unheard of for humans to set alarms for their pet to answer the phone when it rings, there’s still some uncertainty about whether a dog can differentiate that its human will call instead of the other way around.

“When it comes to using electronic pets, it’s a little bit more difficult to determine when they are responding to a device than the same thing would be with humans,” Ballard said. “Generally speaking, they will respond to a device and are willing to accept it.”

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