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What a Night Cam Is Good For

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Eight years ago, when our Golden Retriever, Miel, was still a puppy, we wondered what he was up to when we were out working all day. I felt bad having to leave him home alone, with all that energy and social craving. A part of puppy training included bench training, but was he all right with that? Did he try to break out a lot? Was he barking all the time? We didn’t know.

Until I cooked up a tiny Node application that periodically takes snapshots using the embedded webcam of my MacBook, streamed to a URL via a websocket. The project websocket-webcam meant I could check up on Miel while at work.

The result was both a relief and a bit of a disappointment. Miel did nothing but sleep—even our cat joined in and settled for the blankets on top of Miel’s bench! It’s too bad I lost those captures.

Fast forward eight years to today, and we’re again wondering what Miel does when we’re not here—that is, when we’re asleep. Our couch (not leather) started amassing suspicious amounts of dog hair combined with a funny smell. He knows he’s not allowed on the couch and has one of his own (he likes a lot), and never does it when we’re around.

Busted, Miel! What are you doing there?

Until we deployed a night-cam to check up on him. It turns out that the rascal crawls onto the couch at 3AM and gets back out around 4:30. Miel is getting old, and joint issues, especially the hips, are starting to become a problem, which is typical for Golden Retrievers. That’s another reason to take it easy and avoid the needless jumping. Luckily, it’s not yet bad, but at this age, we have to be mindful.

But I could never be angry with Miel. I love the hairiness, smelliness, happiness, playfulness, slackness, and oldness of him. And I’m fairly certain he loves us right back. Compared to our two cats, I feel fairly comfortable writing this. With cats, you never now if they’re using you or if you’re using them. With Miel, you know.

The reason for the purchase of the night-cam was actually trying to record that ruckus at night above our heads on the attic (which is between the timber frame and isolation). It sounded like a bunch of muskrats, or perhaps a beech marten. Our car once had the isolation ripped out thanks to those furry animals.

The answer was much more mundane, yet as annoying:

Great, two mice in-between torn isolation.

Yup—mice. We’ve been plagued by their noise on and off for about five months now and tried all sorts of things: the animal-friendly trap (didn’t bite), the not-so-animal friendly poisonous lures (didn’t bite), and the conventional cheese traps (didn’t bite). A friend told me he had great success with peanut butter. I might have been watching too much Tom & Jerry back in the day.

The problem is the alarming reproductive rate of those little animals combined with the destructive appetite for our isolation, as they are capable of digesting about anything. It’s an on-going battle. They’ve laid low for a while, but we’re ready for another strike.

Perhaps next week we could tie the cam to a tree in the backyard and record some wildlife. One thing is certain: it’s much more fun to try and record our dog’s behavior than to monitor the activity of those pesky mice.

Bonus picture:

tags icon nightcam cat dog mice

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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