*Furbo: The Treat Dispensing Dog Cam

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(*This post is sponsored by Furbo)

The absolute worst thing about having Bungle (besides when he wipes his butt on my lovely, white bed sheets…), is having to leave him!  He really is part of the family – he pretty much demands to be, it’s what Golden Retrievers are all about – and honestly I wouldn’t have him any other way and I’d take him everywhere with me if I could.  Sunny and I are really lucky that he’s never alone for too long, but then – y’know – sometimes, it happens.  As much as I’d like to wheel him around in the trolley while I do my weekly food shop (…he’d love that!), it just isn’t going to happen, but do you know what? He might as well be there with me because I never stop thinking about him and worrying that he’s okay at home on his own and isn’t wrecking the place while I’m out.

Enter the pet cam!  I used to think they were a bit of a gimmick until my parents got us a Vimtag camera for Christmas.  The idea is that you set it up in a room where you tend to leave your pet while you’re out, then basically link up to your phone via an app, and – via video link – it allows you check in on your pet while you’re out.  We were pretty much instant converts; we never have to worry about rushing back home, we just pop onto the app, make sure that Bungle’s behaving himself (…he’s usually just fast asleep!), and that gives us the option to stay out a little longer! So when Furbo got in touch and asked if Bungle would like to try out their pet cam, I wondered how it could possibly improve on the camera that we already had – what else could it possibly offer?

Well, in a word… TREATS!

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How it works…

One of the many things that sets Furbo aside from other dog cameras on the market is the fact that it allows you to toss treats!  Once you’ve set up the camera (which is super easy – just plug it into the wall, download the free, accompanying app and connect to it once via Bluetooth) you can check in on your pet at any time – day or night – and from anywhere in the world (provided you’re on wifi!).  You can talk to them through the video link (“Get off the sofa!”), hear them respond (“No, it’s comfy!”), record them, photograph them and even flick/swipe the screen to send a treat!  The Furbo will spit a couple of small treats out through the hole in its base, rewarding doggo for being “a very good boy” while you’re out and about doing your thing! 🙂

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The Good

Bark Alerts

As well as the ability to send treats, one of the best things about Furbo – and something that really sets it aside from other cameras – is the fact that the app will send an alert to your phone if it hears your dog barking.  Bungle only tends to bark when he’s frustrated or if someone comes to the door, so having a camera that listens out for that is awesome; if we get an alert, we know we need to check in pronto tonto.

Design

Another thing I really like about the Furbo as opposed to other cameras is its design – it actually looks good!  While our Vimtag camera looks a little bit like a 90s webcam, the Furbo is easy on the eyes by comparison.  It’s a little bit bigger, sure, (obviously it needs to be to hold a decent bank of treats), but sleeker, and with the trendy and kinda Scandi bambo lid it blends really well with the other furniture in our lounge.  The light on the front changes during different modes of operation – yellow when it’s on standby, blue when you’re using the app, and purple when it’s struggling to find a WIFI signal.

Treat Tossing

I mean, obviously, the main draw is the treat tossing function.  It’s great fun!  But what makes it even better is the fact that you can record your own message to accompany the treat toss – a “snack call” – so doggo knows he’s about to get a treat!

Super Wide Lens

One of the only things our Vimtag camera can do that Furbo can’t is the ability to move the camera via the app and follow Bungle’s movements around the room.  Furbo‘s lens is fixed, but, the good news is that it’s a wide-angle lens that has no trouble keeping an eye on the whole room. 🙂

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The Not so Good

The Noise

One of the only gripes I have about Furbo – and there aren’t many at all – is the noise the mechanism makes as it spits out a treat.  It’s a little bit noisy.  I mean, nothing to us humans, but by the way Bungle first reacted to it you’d think the sky was about to cave in!  He’s a slightly skittish dog anyway – he’s never liked sudden noises – and so it took him quite a while to get used to the sounds Furbo makes, even the snack call.  The good thing is that there are plenty of training videos and tips within the app that will help you properly introduce your pup to Furbo that’ll have them loving it in no time!

Depends on the Dog!

Here’s the stickler.  All dogs are completely different.  Some love watching the TV and others barely notice that it’s even there!  Bungle falls into the second category – he always has!  He’s never been bothered about the TV and has never reacted to Facetime or phone calls.  He’s a Golden Retriever with a very finely tuned nose; it’s part of the breed.  So while he’ll always appear behind me when I’m grating cheese on the other side of the house, he won’t react to me if I’m on a screen because he can’t smell me there.  The same applies to talking to him over the camera; he can hear me speaking to him through the Furbo, but won’t really recognise the sound as me because he can’t smell me.  So some of those features – as fantastic as they are – are a bit lost on him.  It’s just a lot of strange noise, and when we first set the camera up it tended to stress him out rather than comfort him.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that not all dogs are going to react to Furbo in the same way.  It depends on how they’re wired!  So if you’ve got a very skittish dog, then it might be worth looking at a more basic camera without all the bells and whistles.  You can always use the training videos of course, but it’s always going to be a bit of a gamble.

Aside from that, as pet cams go Furbo really is top of the pops.  Other than the treat tossing feature, the bark alerts alone are such a simple but really useful feature and it’s the best looking camera on the market by a long way. 🙂

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Big thanks to Karkalis Communications for sending over the Furbo!  Have a great week everyone! 🙂

(This is a sponsored post, you can read more about what that means right here.)

Review: The Good Girl’s Guide to Being a Dick

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Not long after I moved back to Cardiff and into my house, the Jehovahs came knocking.  Two tiny, very sweet old ladies rang my doorbell whilst I was in the middle of emptying boxes and – caught up in the excitement of someone ringing my brand new doorbell – I rushed downstairs and opened the door.  I inwardly groaned as soon as they held out The Watchtower leaflet.  I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t have the time to discuss whether suffering is a punishment from God.  The only suffering I was interested in was the stacks of boxes upstairs that STILL needed emptying and where the hell I was going to put(/hide) Sunny’s stupid, ugly alligator head that had somehow survived the move from London.  In spite of all that, I found that I just couldn’t bring myself to slam the door in their sweet old lady faces or even gently tell them that I wasn’t interested.  I felt bad.  So instead, I stood in the doorway and decided to humour them for ten minutes.  When they handed me The Watchtower I took it and even joked that I needed something to read since all my books were in storage – even though I knew it was going to end up in the bin before they’d even made it to the end of my drive.  I didn’t want them to think I was mean.

Fast-forward three years later and those sweet old Jehovahs are still coming back.  We’ve settled into a rhythm.  They ring my doorbell once every couple of months, ask me how I’m doing, drop off their leaflet and then disappear.  They know my name.  They know my dog’s name.  The window for telling them that I’m not interested and have thrown away every single leaflet they’ve given me without reading a single word has looooooong gone.  And so here we are, all because I was too nice to tell them to go away.

This is just one example of how I’m constantly sacrificing my time and energy to spare other people’s feelings.  Social guilt all over the shop, all the time.  So, when I spotted The Good Girl’s Guide to Being a Dick in the airport bookshop, I knew I needed to pick it up.

Alexandra Reinwarth realised that her day to day behaviour was constantly being triggered by her fear of what other people thought of her.  She realised that she was spending far too much time with people she didn’t like, in places she didn’t want to be, doing things she didn’t want to do, all because she worried what people would think of her if she told the honest -often brutal -truth.  She needed to “become a bit of a dick”.  The book explores her journey in taking back control of her life (becoming more of a dick), from ditching a friend who was constantly using her as a doormat, heading into the office without a lick of makeup and dealing with difficult family members – full of funny and insightful anecdotes and advice on how to stop caring what people think.

It’s not a very long book – only six chapters – and so was an easy pool read and I pretty much swallowed the whole thing up in a couple of days (mostly because I kept getting looks around the pool on my choice of reading material and decided that I needed to wrap things up pretty quickly.  Ha!  Three chapters in and I shed that concern!).  While it’s not a traditional self help book in the fact that it doesn’t really contain any real techniques, it’s full of examples to follow and reads like a pep talk in the art of living honestly and getting what you want (without turning into an actual dick in the process!).  

I mean obviously I don’t want to become a dick.  But, reading the book has made me stop and think of all the times I’ve told little lies or put my own happiness aside because I’ve worried what people would think of me; the world won’t end if someone doesn’t like me.  I’ve started to notice whenever I’m heading down that road, and I’ve become a little bit more honest with those around me about what I care about or don’t like.  Of course, the true test will be whether I can tell the Jehovah’s to politely bugger off next time they ring the door bell.  They are due, after all…

Have a great week!  Or not, whatever. 😉