MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - If this device worked, I'd run for dog-catcher.
Alas, it didn't -- and boy, did the dog catch me.
The Super Dog-Chaser, $25-$30, emits flashing lights and what it claims is an ultrasonic noise only dogs and other animals can hear. It's marketed to stop a charging dog -- or at least give an unwanted, advancing dog a second thought about coming any closer.
That claim would be of significant benefit in Shelby County. In 2014, 582 people were attacked by dogs or some other animal in Shelby County, according to data from both the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. The Shelby County Health Department treated 22 people for animal bites and conducted five rabies tests in 2014.
Sgt. Stephen Hodges, master trainer and officer for the Southaven, MS, Police Department's K9 unit, said the problem with a device like The Super Dog-Chaser is it is very difficult to "reset" a dog's thought process, whether the animal is an untrained stray or a disciplined police dog.
"We train for different scenarios, different obstacles that might reset the dog's thought process," Hodges said.
Before we tackled a trained K9 (or before one tackled me!), we tested The Super Dog-Chaser with Donna Eddins, master dog-trainer and owner of Dog Woods training facility in Bartlett, TN.
Eddins arranged various scenarios with five different breeds of various temperaments and dispositions: golden retriever, bull terrier, Westie, miniature poodle and Pomeranian. We also tested the device with a high-strung cairn terrier on his own territory in Lakeland, TN.
As that cairn terrier tore after me in his front yard, he screeched to a halt when I pointed and activated The Super Dog-Chaser. "He clearly stopped, laid down, stopped his motion," Eddins said. "After a couple of seconds, he even wanted to move away from you, so I would say this device worked for him."
But The Super Dog-Chaser only appeared to work on two of the five other breeds in a surprise 'startle' test (the Westie and the poodle). When we pulled those two breeds aside to get to know me for a few minutes with snack treats, only the poodle would stop at the activation of the device. The Westie would keep on coming, more interested in the treats than in the flashing lights and ultrasonic noise.
"I don't know if it was the device that stopped him the first time or just the fact that you were a stranger," said the Westie's owner, Jenny Thomas.
"It is hard to tell if dogs are reacting to the device or to your aggressive posture with it," Eddins added.
Which leads us to Southaven's K9 unit...
I got into the 'dog suit' to take on two of the unit's trained dogs. After some training myself on how to use the suit and react with it, I attempted to repel the dogs with The Super Dog-Chaser as they were dispatched in separate trials to take me down. In both trials, the K9's took me down without as much as acknowledging the flashing and 'ultra-beeping' gadget.
In short, the device wasn't changing their minds -- or 'resetting their thought processes.'
"The device, in my opinion, did not reset that thought process in any manner," Hodges concluded.
Because it can't change the thought processes of most dogs -- and because of its unpredictability -- The Super Dog-Chaser is a Don't Buy.
"All dogs have different reactions to different stimuli," Eddins said. "You can't assume because one dog is going to react to something that all dogs will react in the same way."