Dom Joly: Huxley's brave new world of robotic surveillance

Share
Related Topics

A dog is for life not just for Christmas – that's how the saying goes, isn't it? We had a very doggy Christmas. The kids pestered us to get them a FurReal Friend. This is a life-sized dog that responds to the kids' commands. He can sit up, beg, lie down, pant and bark. Our two real dogs, Huxley and Oscar, can do exactly the same thing, and more, but were totally ignored on Christmas Day as the kids fawned all over this robotic replacement. Our hounds got their revenge, however. We came down to breakfast on Boxing Day to a strong smell of urine. After a little investigation we discovered that the FurReal dog (whose name is Biscuit) had been used as a dog loo all night.

I can just imagine the scene – Huxley pinning him down while Oscar cocked a leg: "Not so smart now are we, Mr Robot Dog? Why don't you sit up and beg?" Biscuit not only stinks, but now seems to have suffered some sort of malfunction. He just panted non-stop until his batteries ran out. He'll be in the skip within the week.

Our real dogs were celebrating their victory over the intruder by staging regular escapes. Huxley in particular would have been very useful in Colditz as he can get out of almost any situation. We get very worried when he escapes, as he is black as coal and not very street-smart. I always imagine that he's off doing extraordinary things – fishing for trout, running through corn-fields chasing hares, building woodland retreats: whatever cool dogs do when they're alone. Stacey, however, worries that he has another family that he visits and he might like them more than us and eventually never come back.

This Christmas I decided to find out. I contacted a company in the USA who make pet-collar cameras, and bought one. It arrived just before Christmas and I gave it to Stacey in her stocking. Rather worryingly she seemed keen to put it on me the next time I went to London. I quickly attached it to Huxley's collar and released him. I'd set up the camera so that it would take a photo every minute. I was ludicrously excited. I would finally find out where our beloved pooch wandered off to. I waited and waited for him to return. Half an hour later, he did. I unhooked the camera and plugged it into my laptop. It was so exciting waiting for the pictures to download. I flicked through them.

The results were quite extraordinary. There were some abstract images taken at great speed that I could probably flog at Habitat for quite a sum. Then came a clear shot of a road that I recognised. He was above the village near a couple of farms where they breed the 50ft chickens. Then followed some pictures of a gate, then a strange house and then an unidentified small girl who looked quite frightened. Was Huxley a child-chaser?

I moved on nervously – there was a fabulous picture of a vicious-looking dog who was clearly trying to get at Huxley through a cat-flap and then a couple more of running blurrily through fields. Next, Huxley rifled through some bins, had a look at the river Coln and inspected the bum of a dog he met at very close quarters.

I am a little disappointed that he doesn't do anything more constructive. On the other hand, there was no sign of another, more popular family. He's clearly just having a good time and doing what dogs do. I've put the photos on Facebook and they've been a huge hit. There could be a book in this: The Adventures of Huxley Joly. More news next week, when I put the camera on Oscar.

To view the Huxley-cam photos go to www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=79184&l=35ce5&id=672178486

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small Family Accountancy Practi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

'You’re just jealous', and other common misconceptions about the Protein World advert

Hannah Atkinson
Dave Brown's cartoon for the 28 April edition of The Independent  

After five years of completely flaccid leadership, I'm glad something 'pumps up' David Cameron

Joe Sandler Clarke
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence