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Desperately seeking Harry - How to keep track of your pets!

Earlier this year, Leonie Jarrett and her family were devastated to lose their dog Harry for three whole days and nights.

She shared this harrowing experience with us and how the entire family set out to locate him and ensuring it would never happened again including her personal review of the Tractive GPS Pet Tracker.

What happened to Harry?

Harry is our beloved one-year old Golden Retriever. Earlier this year, he was spooked by another dog and bolted from a café in Rye on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. My husband and I were sitting with Harry (and his older brother, two-year old Albus) when Harry bolted. We chased after Harry but we could not catch him.

No Harry you won't run away this time!
Harry’s lead was tied to a metal café chair. Believe it or not, Harry took off attached to the metal chair! He dragged that clanging metal chair along Point Nepean Road (the major highway running beside the beach) for about 100 metres until he reached an outdoor trestle table. 

There, his lead was snagged and tore off. The noise of the clanging chair and then being trapped only spooked Harry further and he raced off inland across multi-lane roads and far out of our sight. Until that point, Harry had never crossed a road leash-free. He ran like a dog possessed.

What did we do to find Harry?

For three days, we (plus our four adult children, their partners and friends) drove around and around the streets of Rye calling Harry’s name. We took Albus with us hoping that Albus would smell Harry or vice versa. 

We created and put up posters, called local vets, dog shelters and the local pound.

After Harry had been lost for about half an hour, I posted a short note to the local Facebook group. 
From that one post, there was an avalanche of likes and shares and suggestions to post to other Facebook pages.

One of my daughters also made a TikTok video.

Social media created so much community engagement (in just a few short days) that these posts reached almost 300,000 people! The TikTok clip was viewed over 200,000 times!
@bring_harry_home FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS, THANK YOU ❤️❤️ #found #goldenretriever #goldenretrieverlife #goldenretrievers #goldenretrieversoftiktok #goldenretrieversoftiktok #dog #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #fypシ #missingdog #missing #lost #bringhimhome ♬ You've Got a Friend in Me - From "Toy Story"/Soundtrack Version - Randy Newman

The story reached the attention of radio station 3AW so I appeared on the 3AW morning show. The local paper also called me for an interview.

Three full days and nights after we lost Harry and as when we were starting to lose hope, we had two confirmed sightings on top of the other. We went to where those sightings were - ironically very close to where we had lost Harry in the first place! We then received a call from a lady who was keeping a dog she thought was Harry close by tempting him with snacks. 
All the callers had seen our posters and/or social media posts where we had plastered our mobile numbers. We raced to where the lady was and the dog was indeed our Harry. He ran to me when I called him and there were many happy tears and cuddles!

Although very thirsty, Harry was unscathed from his ordeal. I can’t say the same for his family!

So we did we learn and what steps did we take in case (heaven forbid!) we ever lost a dog again?

Both Harry and Albus are microchipped and registered with the Council. They also wear tags with their names and our mobile numbers
None of that helped us to find Harry though.

We will never know whether someone was holding on to Harry for those three days or whether he was surviving in “the wild” on his own but, regardless, no one scanned his microchip or called us by looking at his tag.

We believe that we found Harry because our social media posts went viral and our posters were everywhere. We called into Rye Police Station on Day 2 of our search and the local police officer said, “Oh is that Facebook Harry?” Our lost dog was even known to the local police!!

After we found Harry, my husband Andrew made it his mission to find a Tracker for our dogs in case one of them was ever lost again.

Various people suggested Apple AirTags and this was our first port of call. Andrew was not convinced as AirTags work when other Apple devices are close by. 

Andrew felt that if one of the dogs ran off in or around Rye where there is still a lot of rural land, we might struggle to get a signal from an AirTag. A definite plus of an AirTag, though, is the price. Apple sells them from $49. From a site like Amazon, you can bundle AirTags for less than $49 each.

Also, the AirTag does not provide an exact location. When we were told where to find Harry, it was not easy to see him hidden behind the bushes so we wanted a device which provided as exact a location as possible.

Andrew spent hours online looking at various options. Some only worked in the US, which was no good to us in Australia. Finally, we settled on the Tractive GPS Tracker device.

Tractive GPS Tracker - Main Points

Tractive is an Austrian company which offers GPS Trackers for dogs and cats. We settled on two white Tractive DOG 4s for Albus and Harry.

The Tractive device sits on the dogs’ collars and is super easy to take off to charge and then put back on. 

The devices have never fallen off their collars despite the fact that our two dogs mouth each other and play fight all day long. The device is waterproof (up to a 1 metre depth and 30 minutes). After 5 months of continuous use, the devices seem super durable.

Measuring roughly 30 mm wide, 70 mm long and 20 mm deep, the Tractive DOG 4 device is not too large. In fact, it weighs only 35 grams! The device is quite sleek to look at and there are a few colour choices. 

The dogs don’t seem to notice that they are wearing the devices which is a good thing as they don’t try and pull them off.

"Which racquet are you picking Harry?" (Nuriootpa Dog Park, South Australia)

The Tractive device is easy to charge. It comes with a charging cord and it doesn’t take long at all to charge. When connected to WiFi at home, it only needs to be charged every couple of weeks. Off WiFi, it runs out of charge much quicker so you need to pack the charging cord if you go away. The cord is a unique fitting so it is not something that you can buy at a local shop.

Price & Where to Buy:

The Tractive device cost us approximately A$80 each. The cat device is the same price and there is a more expensive device for a bigger dog. 
You can easily find them online including on Amazon

In addition, you must subscribe to a plan (you can choose Basic or Premium and you can elect to pay monthly, annually or for multiple years). We chose Premium as it comes with some extra features including family sharing. You can also add on Tractive Care so that you get a new device if yours is lost, damaged or stolen.

Although having an ongoing subscription is a bit painful, it's because the Tractive trackers have a built-in SIM (like a mobile phone). The SIM uses mobile networks to send location information. 
All the fees needed are covered with your subscription.

The messaging to family members connected to the app is excellent. We all receive messages when a device is close to needing a charge or is flat and, conversely, when the device is fully charged. We also receive regular dog health updates in relation to their activity and sleep. All the messages are dog specific so we know whose tracker is fully charged and which needs a charge.

Does the Tractive GPS Tracker work?

Neither Harry nor Albus have been lost since we purchased this GPS Tracker so the Tractive has not endured the ultimate test. Of course, we hope that we never actually have to rely on it. We now feel, though, that we can pinpoint our beloved dogs’ location if ever they get lost again.

Golden Retriever Albus - Activity Log & Location Updates using the Tractive GPS Tracker app

We love that multiple family members can access the dogs’ location at any time. Given that our family is often split in different locations, that is important to us. There is no maximum number of people that you can invite to share the dogs’ location data so you can add on people like dog walkers and pet sitters.

Different family members check the Tractive GPS app randomly (including when we have been overseas without our dogs) and the Tractive app pinpoints exactly where the dogs are. 
In real time. Now, that is peace of mind!

If there was any further proof needed that we are mad dog owners... At the time of writing, Andrew and I are off overseas for two months, leaving our precious doggies in the care of our adult children. Whilst we are away, we have added Apple AirTags to Harry and Albus’ collars. You can never be too careful!

written by Leonie Jarrett, June 2023 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

About our Writer

Leonie Jarrett lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband of three decades, her four adult children and her two Golden Retrievers.

Leonie has variously been a lawyer and a business owner.

Now that she is semi-retired, Leonie is loving writing about her life, her travels and her experiences together with writing poetry and fictional stories.


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