Pets are often lovable companions that bring joy to their respective owners. However, one of the inconveniences of pet ownership is the constant support that pets require as most are not self-sufficient. For those seeking a pet companion but not desiring all the responsibilities and intricacies that go along with it, a robotic pet may be a preferred option. While the major benefit of a live pet is typically considered the unwavering companionship, robotic pets have nice benefits in their own right.
1. Robotic Pets Create Fewer Responsibilities
The greatest and most obvious benefit to owning a robotic pet is the opposite of the most important aspect of owning a real pet: Robotic pets require no continuous upkeep, such as feeding or cleaning up after them.
No Feeding Required
Other than recharging the pet or changing the batteries, depending on the model, robotic pets do not need any other form of sustenance to operate. Unlike a real pet, there is no need to continually refill the water and food bowls. Better yet, there are no sad, puppy-dog eyes seeking food off the dinner table.
No Mess and No Stains
As there is no need to feed the robotic pet, there is also no dealing with any after-dinner digestion from the pet, which is one of the most irking responsibilities for live-pet owners. Along with there being no defecation or urination from the robotic pet, there's the benefit of a home free of the odors associated with those bodily functions. Likewise, there's no scrubbing the carpet or mopping the floor to prevent stains from setting in. There's also the benefit of not having to clean the pet's living area or having to clean the home of pet hair due to shedding.
No Baths, Grooming, or other Cleaning
Live animals, especially dogs, get dirty, start to smell, and need a bath. Some pets even require special grooming. However, with a robotic pet, none of that is required, so there's no getting wet while wrestling with the pet at bath time. Other hygiene responsibilities, like brushing the pet's teeth, are also no longer an issue. Cleaning a robotic pet, when even necessary, is as simple as using a dust cloth.
2. Robotic Pets Won't be a "Bad" Pet
While being loving and fun, live pets also tend to do things owners will frown upon. Pets, especially those that are not trained, may chew on or damage furniture or other property. Animals may also bite those who feed, pet, or attempt to play with them. A live pet may make unwanted or excessive noises, such as loud barking from a dog or continuous chirping from a bird. On the other hand, a robotic pet's actions are always controllable.
3. Robotic Pets Cost Less in the Long Run
The price of a robotic pet will vary based on its technological capabilities and current availability, for instance, if a model is no longer in production. The same is true for the price of a live pet as it would apply to the pet's breed, heritage, and consumer market. However, robotic pets will cost less in the long run as the majority of the expenses will be absorbed in the initial purchase, given that only batteries or electricity for recharging will need to be purchased in the future. The cost of a live pet becomes more expensive over time as an owner will continually have to purchase food, toys, and cleaning supplies. Live pet owners who rent may also have to pay a monthly fee to their landlord to allow the pet on the property and may have to put down an extra deposit as well.
4. Robotic Pets Don't Go to the Doctor
With a robotic pet, there is no worry of the pet becoming sick or needing medical attention. That means no routine trips to the vet for shots and no expenses from medical operations, such as being spayed or neutered. More importantly, the inability for the pet to grow old or get sick means it won't die. This will prevent the emotional heartbreak and loss that often accompanies pet owners during such times.
5. Robotic Pets Are Convenient
Some studies have shown that robotic pets are just as beneficial in preventing loneliness and maintaining emotional health among owners as live pets are, particularly among the senior population. Aside from that, robotic-pet owners have full control over their pet. Rather than a live pet seeking attention or wanting to play, the owner of a robotic pet can initiate attention and playtime. Further, a robotic pet can be turned off, unlike a live pet that requires support 24/7. The absence of support that a robotic pet requires is also of great benefit when an owner leaves the home or goes on vacation; there is no scrambling to find a trustworthy pet-sitter or worrying while away that the pet is lonely or sad.
6. Robotic Pets Do Things Live Pets Can't
Getting a live pet to obey commands, do tricks, or avoid unwanted behavior typically requires heavy training, which can also be very expensive. Many robotic pets, on the other hand, are already programmed to perform certain functions, such as to communicate with or acknowledge the owner. Further, some highly-advanced robotic pets can be trained by the owner. If the owner prefers a pet that has the excitement of a new puppy, some models may have that as a behavioral option for the robotic pet. This would allow an owner to indefinitely have a puppy whereas a real dog would eventually grow old. Some of the best things robotic pets can do are actions that are impossible for their animal counterparts. A robotic pet, such as the Furby, may have the ability to speak English or another language and converse with the owner to varying degrees. A pet may also be programmed with entertainment features, such as the ability to sing or dance.
Types of Robotic Pets
Robotic pets will vary in technological capabilities, but it's important to remember that robotic pets will only get better as technology continues to advance. A simple robotic pet may be stationary and have limited actions, typically facial movements such as closing and opening the eyes and mouth. Other robots may be available that are mobile, including the ability to follow an owner around, or that have more intricate features such as recognizing voice commands. Robotic pets like the out-of-production Sony AIBO may feature very advanced, artificial intelligence features, such as the ability to train the pet as though it were a new puppy. For consumers looking for a pet-raising experience without the physical show of a live or robotic pet, digital pets may be an alternative. Digital or virtual pets can be purchased as small or hand-held devices that allow users to train, feed, and raise a pet in electronic form. The devices can often be found in small, keychain models that ensure a user can take the pet wherever he or she may go.
Finding Robotic Pets on eBay
To find robotic pets on eBay, use the search toolbar on the eBay homepage using terms such as "robot pet," "robot dog," "robot cat." It's also possible to search for a specific brand or model, such as Furby, at this stage. On the search results page, locate the Toys & Hobbies category on the left side menu and select Robots, Monsters & Space Toys followed by the Robots subcategory. This will effectively narrow down the search and avoid results of robotic tools, such as a robotic vacuum. If searching for a virtual or digital pet, try searching using those terms and selecting the Electronic, Battery & Wind-Up category under Toys & Hobbies. Search results can then be narrowed down using the eBay filter for brand as well as whether the item is used or new.
While robotic pets may not fulfill the real-life aspect desired by some, the pets certainly do have their own advantages. Some of the benefits are directly the opposite of the negatives associated with a live pet, which will greatly appeal to some prospective owners. It will ultimately be a personal choice, but don't forget: Having one doesn't mean not having the other. Owning both is always a possibility, and an owner's live pet will possibly enjoy playing with the robotic pet too.