Have you ever seen the movie The Secret Life of Pets? The plot is pretty much spelled out in the title, but the premise is this: Pets, when left to their own devices, lead very different lives than their owners think. They have different identities, different interests, and get into all sorts of dramatic situations. The movie is basically Toy Story, but with cats and dogs instead of toys. Like any pet owner does, I too have pondered on what sort of secret life my own pets have. Do they go ballistic the moment I turn the lock? Do they secretly cuddle all day, only to shun each other the moment I step foot through the front door? I had no idea what they did all day while I'm gone at work, but I was nosy enough to want to figure it out.
When my fiancée and I moved in together, we meshed our furry family, too. One dog, courtesy of Heather (my fiancée), and one cat, my own.
The cat and the dog don't really care for each other, they never have. Their first meeting - almost five years ago now - went about as well as one could expect. Dog meets cat, cat's hair stands on end as she hisses, dog growls, followed by total and complete avoidance. Over the years they've gradually become tolerant of each other's company. The dog (her name is Doria), being the more social of the two, yearns for playtime with and affection from the cat. The cat on the other hand (her name is Donut), does not see a need for such efforts to be made, and only on occasion can be persuaded to swat a playful paw across Doria's prodding nose.
Heather and I have often joked about what Doria and Donut do all day while we're at the office. Do they secretly hang out with each other? Do they play? Do they fight? Is it as we suspect and they just sleep all day at opposite ends of the house? The only real way we were going to get to the bottom of this is by spying on them.
There were legitimate reasons for me to put up a camera in my house other than a silly curiosity about what the heck the animals do all day. First off, I live in an apartment building in a busy part of the city with a finicky front door lock, so an extra pair of "eyes" while I'm away at work is comforting. Second, I'm about to get married, then jet off on a two-week honeymoon. I'll be leaving the home vacant (save for a few visits from a friend who will be watering my houseplants). While I'm sure nothing will happen when I'm away, it is reassuring that we'll be able to check in on the place from time to time while we're gone.
Since I'm not trying to get a whole security system installed in my home (re: too lazy), this camera - the VTech Wireless Pan & Tilt (VC931) - fit the bill perfectly. It was really easy to set up (by easy, I mean I was able to monitor my living room like 10 minutes after I opened the box), and the rotating camera means can look in any direction I please. There's a free app that I downloaded to my phone which allows me to connect to the camera wherever I am and see what's going on at home. I can pan, tilt, and record remotely. There's audio, and I can even speak through the camera. That part definitely confuses the dog, but it's hilarious for me.
My favorite feature in this camera is the motion activation. Not a lot goes on in my house when we're not there, so it seems silly to let the camera record indefinitely while we're away on honeymoon. The motion-activation feature will only send you a push notification if something moves (which hopefully will not happen while we're gone!).
The camera also comes with hardware for mounting the equipment higher up. If I move out of my apartment and to a stand-alone home, I will definitely be installing this guy near my front door. How awesome would it be to get a message on your phone letting you know exactly when a package showed up at your front door? It can also see really well in the dark (it has infrared night vision), which is perfect for that moment when there's a weird noise outside but you're too chicken to get up and see what it is.
The picture is also very clear - a lot clearer than I was expecting for a monitoring camera. You can save snapshots directly from the app - since I'm obsessed with the pets I've got quite the collection of screen-grabs saved up on my camera roll.
So, what's the verdict?
Do Donut and Doria get into trouble during the day? Do they hold secret meetings and invite the other pets from the building over to party together? Do they have a secret cuddle-romance that we're not privy to? The truth is just as I suspected: my pets are really boring. They just sleep. All day. The dog will lift her head every now and then when she hears a noise from outside, but other than that, it's basically like watching a static image.
I'm not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed that Donut and Doria don't live out top secret identities while we're at the office. To be fair though, they are both pushing twelve years old, and by the time I'm that age in dog years (that's 84 years old, by the way), you can be sure I'll be doing the exact same thing.
If you're curious about what happens in your home while you're away, the VTech VC931 camera is available here. This post was sponsored by VTech, but all opinions are mine alone. We love working with companies that support DIYers, and thank you for supporting the brands that help make Curbly possible!