Losing your pet is a heart-wrenching experience. Whether Fido is missing for an hour or a week, concerned dog owners lose their minds with worry. They instantly log onto Nextdoor and alert everyone in the region about the tragedy that's befallen them. They print out "Have You Seen Me" posters and staple them to every telephone pole. They search high and low, begging every shopkeep for information.
And why wouldn't we? Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are angels with fur. We depend on them, and they depend on us.
That's why pet trackers are such a wise investment: Using radio signals or GPS, you can quickly hunt down your wayward animal. Most of these are simple and easy to use, and they require a very low monthly subscription fee. Here are some of our favorite devices that ensure your pet doesn't "stray."
Nothing beats Whistle for sleekness: This device has the brushed-metal simplicity of a tungsten wedding ring. For $6.95 a month, Whistle will create a safety zone for your pet, alerting you by phone every time Fifi wanders into the neighbor's yard. The GPS technology allows you to monitor your dog's location on your phone, 24/7, in real time. Rain and dust will not affect Whistle, so your dog can go almost anywhere without harming the circuitry.
2. Loc8tor Tabcat
The Tabcat is a little round disc that fits onto your cat's collar. No matter where your cat goes, you can use the remote control to find your feline. Tabcat can work for almost any four-legged pet, but instead of using GPS, the device uses radio signals, so its range is limited to 400 feet. You use a network of little lights to figure out where your animal is, which isn't quite as precise as a digital screen. Then again, Tabcat's battery is long-lasting, and a beeping tag helps train your cat to come home on command.
3. Squeaker Buddy
This is another GPS device that helps you map your dog's whereabouts. But what's so unusual about Squeaker Buddy is that the collar actually lights up, so you can spot your animal from a good distance away. The LED lights are pretty ostentatious, but Squeaker Buddy has cleverly marketed a whole genre of light-up leashes, harnesses and toys. So if your pet likes chasing little pulsing spheres across the floor, this might become your favorite outfitter.
4. Marco Polo Pet Monitor
Like Loc8or Tabcat, Marco Polo Pet Monitor uses radio frequencies to track down your pet. This means there's no subscription fee and the battery lasts for nearly three months. There's even a little screen that helps you pinpoint your roving Rover. But this device will never rival GPS for accuracy, and the locator is a little more cumbersome than a regular phone. Marco Polo is best used in a small neighborhood since its range is about two miles.
5. The Paw Tracker
The Paw Tracker is suitable for any animal that wears a collar, and not surprisingly, it's shaped like a little plastic paw. Paw Tracker comes in a variety of colors, and it's perhaps the lightest device on the market, at 40 grams. It's popular, too: At press time, Paw Tracker had two weeks of back orders to process.
6. Gibi Pet Locator
Gibi has a cute, clean, futuristic look, kind of like the original iPod. Gibi is best known for being light and stylish, and like the rest of the GPS collars, the device is accessible by smartphone.
For folks who like to travel with their furry friends, Tractive is a versatile little tracker, because it functions in 80 countries around the world. All you need is a smartphone with either AT&T or T-mobile, and you can't track your dog all day long for $5 a month. The collar is waterproof and practically indestructible, so go ahead and take Charlie on that rafting adventure down the Ganges.