The FitBark endeavor began with a search at BestBuy for FitBits, which led to the discovery of curious items referred to as FitBarks, which led to the hunting down of the website, which led to the arrival of a small white box, and in this small white box, was another box.  In this box, was a red, plastic bone, with little black rubber bands, and a reference to a website.  It’s amazing how one small item can be the start of great activity, but I’m ahead of myself.

First off, let’s meet the crew.  In the photo below on the right, we have Cilantro (AKA Cilanchi Bibbanchi or Mr. C).  He is four years old and an Australian Cattledog/Pit Bull/Pointer/Lab who relays all orders regarding food service and walk time to the human companions.  In the center of everything, not just in the photo, is Scout (AKA Scooter Marrooter or Moot Babboot) who is a six year old, Australian Cattledog mix.  What she lacks in size in comparison to the other two, she makes up for in speed and energy.  She is the driving force and commander of the team.   Last but not least, especially not in size, is Caraway (AKA Runty the Rooter or Roo) who is Cilantro’s litter mate.  She was the runt of the litter, and despite joint setbacks (a bone splinter in her elbow and a torn CCL which has undergone lazer treatment), holds her own on the playing field.

For support staff, they have two human companions.  Front and center is me, Eli which is pronounced like a man’s name but is short for Elizabeth.   I have a long history of serving Australian Cattledog mix puppies.  In order to support the crew in the manner to which they have become accustomed, I am an environmental writer (retired archaeologist) on contract to the Department of Defense.  While this sounds very ominous, in reality I take unwieldy technical jargon and write up documents normal humans can understand.  Along with my many duties as travel companion and top hug giver to the crew, I maintain an old mining cottage in a small town in a remote part of Colorado where the crew prefers taking in the sights and smells, rather than sleeping.  Second in support, is Kenny, a wildlife biologist and photographer, who also serves as a hiking and camping companion and prime ball thrower for the crew, but more importantly is the chef (preparing fresh meals for the crew to go with commercially produced dry food) and preferred chauffer.  He has a home in southern New Mexico, where the crew enjoys hikes in the desert and desert mountains.

Last week, we wound up venturing down the aforementioned path which led to Caraway taking the FitBark plunge with the Passionate Lover Red Monitor.  While she likes to play and hike, the injuries create problems for her.  We, her human support staff, hoped the FitBark would help us understand her current activity levels and assist us with gradually increasing the range of her activities.  It was also assumed this would increase the activeness of everyone in the household including those who are recent owners of FitBits.

When the FitBark arrived, I didn’t have any problems attaching it to her collar or downloading the app from GooglePlay to my Smart Phone.  It was a bit odd at first, but I suspect part of that was because the firmware needed to be updated on the monitor (an amazingly easy fix automatically taken care of when the phone synced to the monitor) and because, while I have a Smart Phone, it is not a genius phone.  I actually bought it to make phone calls and send texts, so it is not the latest greatest.  I figure with any new puppy there is a learning curve and patience is required (usually more on my part than on the puppy’s part, I think…), so I applied the same approach to the monitor and app.  We learned to get along quite quickly, and the latest update to the monitor via my phone seems to have smoothed out the rough edges.  Soon we were able to see when Caraway was most active during the day and night, how much sleep she was getting, and how much exercise she was getting whether or not we were on hand to witness it.

In the first week of having the FitBark attached to her collar, Caraway, was thrilled with the extra attention and fussing with her collar and the monitor.  (The monitor didn’t require lots of fussing, but fussing seems to be natural for some humans when something new is introduced to the household.)  She frequently heard us, as we synced her monitor to the associated app, discuss what was indicated of her daily and nightly activities with many comments which included “Caraway,” “play,” and “more.”  She somehow put it all together, and on Day Five (instead of sleeping in as she usually does), she was up early, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to play before breakfast for the first time in years. It might have simply been because we’d already increased her play time, but dogs do tend to have a better grasp of English than we give them credit for.  I have since synced my FitBit with her FitBark in the app, and she is kicking my tail around the neighborhood.

After a week of noting Caraway’s behaviors, especially while we were at work, we decided to purchase FitBarks for the rest of the team.  Scout, of course, is sporting the Life of the Party Blue monitor, and Cilantro, who is the most vocal of the group, has the appropriate Rockstar Grey monitor.  Let the adventures begin!


About the author

Eli Kutzo is a environmental writer for the Department of Defense and the proud owner of Cilantro, Scout and Caraway.