Jewish World Review Oct. 15, 2004 / 30 Tishrei, 5765

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

PetsCell: Wassup dog? | Apparently dog parks and dog bakeries are not enough to keep man's best friend happy. Now cell phones are going to the dogs as well.

A company called PetsCell has created a cell phone you can clip to your dog or cat's collar. One small question, please: Exactly what are we supposed to say to the pet once we call?

"Can you hear me now?" or "Wassup dawg?"

Even your more gifted and talented cats and dogs, like Garfield and Snoopy, can't talk on a phone. Oh sure, they can talk in all capital letters in little black-and-white balloons, but they lack can't do mobiles.

Besides, you call a cat and you and I both know what a cat is going to do. Ignore you. Worse yet, since the cat knows the cell phone doesn't have a video phone feature, your feline friend might even mock you for calling by making a little blah, blah, blah motion with the front paw.

For argument's sake, assume you have an unusual cat that twice a year acknowledges your lowly existence. You could call and say, "Hello, Kitty, " but if you interrupted a nap or a romp with a toy mouse, the cat is going to get in a snit.

There's no point trying to talk to a cat with an attitude. Cats don't give second chances. At best you could keep calling, begging for forgiveness and asking the cat not seek revenge by shredding the sofa, the curtains and the quilt your grandmother made.

Dogs, on the other hand, might fare better with cell phones. A dog would be glad to hear from you. Yes, a dog hearing the master's voice would begin barking wildly, racing through the house, and becoming extremely excited in general. Which leads us to ask, how excited do you want your dog when you are away from home?

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Chewing leather shoes excited? Scratching-at-the-back-door excited? Jumping over the kitchen table because he hears your voice but cannot lick your face excited?

Even if your dog would calm down enough to listen to your call, what relevant matters would you discuss? "I think I left the coffee maker plugged in. Can you check it for me?"

"I'm going to be a little late tonight, there's steak in the 'fridge and Benji is on the Family Channel at 8."

There is a dog that could have put a cell phone to good use Lassie. If Lassie had owned a PetsCell, and known a little Morse Code, she could have barked out the global satellite position of the ravine, deserted well and drainage ditch Timmy fell into each week, instead of running back and forth to the house, trying to get addled adults to quit yelling, "What is it, girl? What is it?"

Here's the real flaw of the PetsCell: It undermines the basic nature of the man-and-dog relationship.

The reason we love our pets is that they listen. With cocked heads, interested eyes and wagging tails, they patiently, quietly listen.

You talk to your spouse, and your spouse responds with suggestions. Your talk to your friends, and they offer input. Your relatives share opinions, and your co-workers know someone to whom that same thing happened — only six times worse.

Your pet? Your pet lets you talk and talk and never talks back. Why would you want to torment a faithful friend who knows the value of silence with a cell phone?

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2004, Lori Borgman