The geeky bluetooth miniature dog adventure

It was one of those anonymous central Hawke’s Bay towns that get jokes made about them by anybody who doesn’t actually have to live there.

As my wife and I checked into a motel there I noticed a rat sitting under the counter. Actually it turned out to be one of those little lap dogs that erupt with increasingly hysterical yapping at anything that moves, until they explode into a small waft of dog hair and half-digested Fido Bites.

To me, a parody of a dog. A cruel joke played by humans on grey wolves – with which these breeds are virtually identical, genetically. They’d look like them, too, if humans hadn’t selectively bred them for small and hysterically nervous.

Mind you, I think I’d be hysterically nervous if I’d been bred down to 1/10 size and somebody then threatened to electrocute me if I strayed.

A photo I took of central Waipukurau in 2007, nowhere near the offending motel and at a totally different time...
A photo I took of an anonymous Hawke’s Bay town in 2007, a totally different time…

Electrocution? Yeah, that was the next thing. Their dog, the owner insisted, wouldn’t bother us – it had a shock collar. Go too near certain areas and —ZAP—

Uh… OK. We settled in. I got out my hand-held computer – an iPAQ Rx3500 – and portable Bluetooth keyboard. Fired it up.

Yelps suddenly erupted from just outside the unit, vanishing into the distance where they stopped.

It took me a while to figure it out. Luckily I’m a geek. Bluetooth is a radio signal, broadcast on one of 79 channels, spaced 1 mHz apart, between 2402 and 2480mHz. The dog collar was a Bluetooth device. The keyboard’s synching sweep must have briefly interfered with the broadcast controlling the collar. Type 2 Bluetooth has a range of about 10 metres.

Who’d have ever imagined that? This stuff is designed to avoid interfering with other devices. It was just unfortunate that the hapless pooch, carefully avoiding its own invisible fence, had been hiding within range when I switched on. Not that I had any idea this would happen in the first place. But still…oops.

I could only suppose that it had learned to run in terror from cellphones.

Radio interference is a well understood phenomenon, of course – it’s how thieves jam your keyless car remote locking signal, wait until you’re gone, and make off with your prize wheels.

Didn’t help the poor dog. Although the explanation I gave to She Who Must Be Obeyed was punctuated with appropriate Mad Scientist Evil Laughter, the practical reality was that I couldn’t start my computer gear while we were at that motel. I spent the rest of the visit wondering whether the unfortunate animal would find a way of herding its  owners with cattle prods.

Have any of you seen dogs wearing this appalling piece of technology? Or had fun and games with any piece of wireless tech interfering with another?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013