Friday, June 18, 2010


Bobo spends a lot of time running. She runs through fields. She runs around the yard. She used to run through the streets. And she runs in the woods. When she runs, she runs very far and very fast. When we hike, she goes 15 miles to our 3. She runs because she loves it, she’s good at it, and she can. She’s a German Shorthaired Pointer after all, she runs because it’s in her blood. She was bred to be the perfect hunter’s assistant and can run all day every day. It’s in her nature, there’s no stopping it. The best we could hope for is to make her running safe for her and less frightening for us.

Bobo knew the “come” command,” but being the sophisticated problem solver that she is, she often chose to ignore it. When she didn’t choose to ignore it, she was often far enough away from us that when she did head back our way, it was a good five or ten minutes before she arrived, making us think that she was ignoring us even when she wasn’t. Although we knew that she enjoyed the running and would almost always return to us at some point, our little Bobo also had a tendency to hurt herself. Running that far, that fast through the woods has its downside which includes cuts, scrapes and the occasional puncture wound. Our biggest fear was not that she would get lost, but that she would get hurt and disoriented and we’d never be able to find her. So after one scare, we decided to bite the bullet, spend the money and get her a GPS collar. After much research and $599, we ended up with the Garmin Astro DC 30 GPS Dog Tracking System.

This system has a hand held GPS unit and a receiver on a dog collar. The collar has a giant rubbery antenna which is always humorous when attached to a dog, bobbing through the woods. The system is designed for hunting, so it’s waterproof, extremely durable and good for a range of up to 5 miles. The handheld GPS unit can be used while not attached to a dog which is helpful for those who like to do things apart from their canine companions. The handheld unit can also track up to 10 dogs. You would need to purchase 10 collars in order to do that, but you don’t need 10 different handheld units. Because the system is designed for hunting the handheld provides information for a number of hunting-related elements such as, best hunting times, sun rise and sun set. In addition the handheld unit provides information not only on your dog’s whereabouts but also their actual physical position. It will tell you whether your dog is pointing, treeing, sitting or running. It doesn’t have signifier for swimming, but other than that it’s been pretty accurate thus far.

The most interesting thing about the GPS is that upon receiving and using it, we quickly discovered that Bobo was rarely further than 80 yards from us. Apparently she’s more stealth than we give her credit for. Her coloring is great camouflage, but we figured since she is anything but graceful, we would have heard her if she were close by. Apparently we were wrong.

Notice I said that she was rarely further than 80 yards from us. Not never more than 80 yards from us. One day we were out hiking and we turned one way and Bobo turned the other way. In the 2 minutes it took to figure out she was not with us, she had already run almost a mile in the other direction. Without the GPS we never would have found her. When we did find her, she was far off trail, at the bottom of a hill on the banks of a rapidly flowing river. She was hurt, disoriented and scared. She couldn’t tell where our voices were coming from as evidenced by the fact that as I climbed down to her, I saw her running in circles trying to figure out where my voice was coming from. The sound of the water in the valley did something to the sound waves making the direction my voice was coming from nearly impossible to decipher.

After a little bit of both canine and human stress, the pack ended up back together with no major losses or injuries. And that you just can’t put a price tag on.

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