In the space of one year, I transformed from being the person who could never imagine spending the money to microchip a dog, into a firm believer that a microchip was nowhere near enough when owning a dog.
Growing up with acreage dogs had instilled in me a more detached relationship with the dogs in my life. I was unable to imagine why people tend to spend so much money on their pets. After deciding to find a dog of my own, the puppy that came home single-handedly changed this view forever.
My husband and I had just purchased our first home. A charming bungalow acreage outside of town, whose charm was quickly halted by the number of renovation projects involved. Construction projects aside, it was our first opportunity to search for a dog after years in apartment rentals.
After months of researching breeds and searching for the perfect dog, we finally took the step to place a deposit on a puppy. This time, with a breeder that we knew. We decided on a Cairn Terrier. Thinking that it’s hardiness would match the remote location of our acreage. A small size would allow for companionship inside the home.
Shortly after placing the deposit, we received the shocking news that we were expecting our first child. After many late conversations, we decided the idea of the puppy was great timing. We thought she could be well-trained before the baby’s arrival.
Our new puppy joins the household
We picked her up on one of the coldest nights of the year. The mottled tan puppy in our arms stole our hearts forever with her sweet nature and playful curiosity. So after meeting her, we named her Indiana to match her adventurous personality and rugged good looks. Months progressed, she proved to be an eager student and a calm playmate for a child.
Feeling new mothering instincts, these emotions attached themselves in earnest to our new puppy. I became anxious about her small size on our land, with the potential of losing her.
I began researching GPS trackers, but became frustrated by the lack of selection. In my opinion, either the size was too large for her small collar or the device came with high monthly fees associated to the downloadable app.
The Amazing FitBark
After reading reviews, I finally ordered the FitBark. I immediately loved the design, a sleek bone-shaped addition to her collar, available in a wide variety of colors to match anything I desired. Much to my dismay, I realized I had made a mistake when reading reviews, and the FitBark did not have GPS capabilities. Rather than attempting to return it, I decided to exercise the features of the device.
I quickly discovered the FitBark was the perfect tool for me. It allowed me to monitor Indiana’s activity levels while I was at work. I was able to recognize the pattern forming of her activity level. It starts to spike at 11:30 in the morning, and adjusted my lunch schedule to match this late morning activity.
This ability to spot these patterns aided us in potty-training her swiftly. The app also shows the dog’s sleep score. A statistic that slowly dropped as my pregnancy progressed and my nights became less restful.
Indiana became my shadow in the last months of pregnancy. She is always ready to comfort me with a nap companion or urging me to share my latest strange craving.
I was happy with the device, but I had no idea how useful I would find FitBark in the coming months. As happy as she was to greet us home from the hospital, Indiana was ecstatic to meet the new member of our family.
She rarely left the baby’s side in the months to come, often patrolling the nursery multiple times throughout the night. Indiana became essential to the new routine in her new baby monitor role. She would prick her ears toward the nursery door well before the video camera would catch movement to indicate a waking baby.
The Baby’s Arrival
After returning home from the hospital, Indiana resumed her role as my shadow. It was if she was worried that if I left her sight, I would certainly disappear again, returning with another screaming bundle. She never left my side in that first month, often having to be carried outside by my husband for a potty break.
It was the first summer of her life, and she was dutifully spending it indoors with me. This also meant that Indiana was my companion during every night feeding as the baby rejected all attempts at setting a schedule.
As we roused ourselves from bed and settled into the nursery every two hours at night, the dog would also stagger in through the door and throw herself down at my feet. It became such a production that we brought in an additional dog bed for her to use in the nursery.
At the baby’s first doctor appointment, there was a concern over the baby’s weight gain. She had lost more weight than usual and was slow in gaining it back. She had been recorded as barely within the bottom 17th percentile.
The doctor asked us to keep a record of the number of night feedings and the length of time for each feeding. With a few weeks of sleep deprivation in the bank, this new task was quite the struggle. Remembering to write down each feeding seems like an easy task, until you find yourself unable to remember what sleep feels like.
Indiana and her Fitbark to the rescue
True to her name, the dog came to the rescue. In a moment of desperate delirium (it would be laughable to say it came to me in a dream, because that would imply sleep of some kind) the night before our next doctor visit, I suddenly remembered we still had the FitBark in use.
Miraculously, I had kept it charged to make sure Indiana was not neglecting her food. I read that dogs can become depressed after introducing a baby.
The FitBark had recorded Indiana’s activity every time she faithfully joined me at my feet throughout the night. I downloaded the data from the FitBark for the weeks in question. Finally, I was able to produce a creative chart mapping the night feedings and their time duration.
With the combined effort of my own creativity, the FitBark’s sensitivity to gathering data, and Indiana’s own devoted nature, I was able to recognize a night pattern to slowly adjust until the baby began sleeping through the night in her second month.
Our doctor was able to suggest feeding strategies to assist her in achieving an average weight. As a result, my personal anxiety of trying to remember to write everything down was eased in having reliable technology in hand.
Whether or not this experience matched the FitBark creators intended use for the data, I am still thankful for the role the device played. It helped our family establish a schedule and provide essential information to our medical provider.
While the quest for a GPS tracker continues, I look forward to watching Indiana’s activity levels on the FitBark skyrocket once the baby begins walking.