Update: We went through five Fi collars in the first six months before we gave up and cancelled the account.
We adopted Dexter, then a two-year old Siberian husky last year. He soon taught us that huskies like to run. And will at every opportunity. He’s broken leads, unlatched doors and snuck under a closing garage door to take off.
We ordered a Fi collar which arrived October 16, 2020. First impressions were positive. It seemed well-built and was easy to set up and start tracking Dexter. Unfortunately, our first impressions didn’t hold up.
The first time Dexter got loose with the collar, we activated the ‘lost dog’ mode and went after him. The lost dog mode attempts to update the dog’s position every minute. But, it often failed to update and would retry. We found it often took five or six minutes, and once 11 minutes to update. That long lag between updates isn’t sufficient to track a husky trotting along at better than 15 miles an hour. A six-minute delay could put the dog a mile and a half away! In 11 minutes, he could be 2.75 miles from the last location shown. I doubt even a husky owner can yell to their dog at that range.
The tracking is not entirely useless, dogs don’t run flat out forever. They’ll stop to explore, loop back on their track or slow down to do dog stuff. So, eventually you’ll catch up with the dog. Hopefully, before he gets into trouble.
Dexter’s original tracking module (Fi sells the GPS monitor and also sells the collar band) stopped tracking on December 21, 2020 – after 67 days. Fi support was reasonable, neither fast nor slow. We tried resetting the collar here, Fi reset it on their end. Neither worked and Fi shipped a replacement module. We received it on January 6, 2021 – leaving us without the ability to track Dex for 15 days.
The replacement module set up and tracked properly when we got it. About January 26, the connection between the band and the GPS module started coming apart when Dex was tied on a lead in the yard. We had a couple episodes chasing a GPSless dog while the collar lay on the ground in the yard. By January 29, the band wouldn’t attach to the module.
Fi designed the band to slip into a keyed slot on the module. The module appears to me to be made of white metal. Dexter had twisted the collar to the point that the metal broke and the key would not stay in the slot. Again, I contacted Fi support.
It seemed like every email to Fi brought an email back asking for something different. They wanted photos, I took excellent macro photos of the damaged parts (I used to run NASA’s Photo Section, I know something about photography). They wanted photos with the band ends laid next to each other, and both sides of the module – from a distance which did not give a clear view of the damage. Fine, more photos were taken and sent.
Fi’s response was incredible – they don’t recommend using their collar as a collar. They told me they “recommend using Fi for tracking only. Many pup owners with pullers or larger dogs use Fi with a harness…” This was the first I’d heard it suggested that the collar wasn’t suitable as a collar. After a few emails, Fi agreed to replace the module again, and to send a new band as the tensioner on the old band had also broken and the collar couldn’t be adjusted to fit. The new module arrived today, February 10, 2021. It set up and attached correctly.
In the 90 days since the first collar arrived, FI has replaced the module twice. The collar was unable to track Dexter for 25 of those 90 days – if he got free, we were unable to track him 28% of the time. Not an impressive record. I’ll use this collar while I look for a replacement.