DogBlog: Using the cable service to watch the dog

2013-05-03T00:11:00Z 2013-05-06T12:55:49Z DogBlog: Using the cable service to watch the dogBy Christen Croley, The Sentinel The Sentinel
May 03, 2013 12:11 am  • 

I’ll admit, when Bob Grove from Comcast first called me in my office one hectic Thursday afternoon, the last thing on my mind was the DogBlog.

After all, The Sentinel’s big air quality package was less than 24 hours from deadline and I, as the lead reporter, faced the insurmountable challenge of revamping the entire story at the last minute.

I’d no sooner hanged up the phone after yet-another call to an allergist’s office went unanswered when the archaic ringer of our office phone system shook the pens on my desk.

It’s for me. No doubt about it.

(You see, we often play this guessing game in the newsroom about who’s phone is actually ringing. Usually, if you’re even slightly doubtful about the source of the ring — its not your phone.)

I answered the call and listened as Grove began to identify himself as Comcast’s vice president of public relations. Did I forget to pay my bill or something? Have the cable police really tracked me down to my office?

“Do you know about our Comcast Xfinity home product that you can use to check up on your pets during the day?” he asked. I had no clue what he was talking about.

“The only requirement is that you have our Internet services,” he said. I have Xfinity Internet services.

Grove says, as it turns out, customers often use the company’s home security and automation service to check in on their beloved pets via computer, smartphone or tablet device. Grove says the system’s cameras can be permanently mounted inside your home and motion sensors can be adjusted to account for your pet’s movements.

If that wasn’t convenient enough, Comcast will send text message alerts when something isn’t right within your home. Say the system wasn’t deactivated around 3:30 p.m. when your kids arrive home from school. Well Comcast will tell you so.

“It can not only tell you when something happens, but it can tell you when something doesn’t happen,” Grove said. “It’s continually evolving.”

The service got me thinking — what would I do if I had the ability to constantly monitor my pups when away from home?

I’d probably never get any work done, that’s for sure. My Boston Terrier, Ruxin, is too young to roam the apartment unsupervised, so he sleeps inside his crate when home alone. Sharona, at six-years-old, just rolls around in my bed, occasionally waking up to wrestle with the sheets.

If someone were desperate enough to rob my apartment, I don’t know what I would do from the other side of the camera except watch helplessly. I suppose I am not the best market for this product — after all, starving journalists don’t have a dime to spare for security systems (we don’t own much worth taking, either).

Still, I applaud Comcast for replacing dwindling landline phone service subscriptions with home security systems (if that is, in fact, the reason why). There will be people out there with the extra $40 a month to invest — I’m just not one of them.

Christen Croley is the local politics reporter at The Sentinel. She is the owner of two dogs. Comments reach her at

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