Monday, August 06, 2012

Zoe, Radio Dog

Even a dog can be famous for five minutes. Zoe got written up in at least three geek magazines. She was in both Popular Science and Mechanix Illustrated Magazine in 1939, and Radio Craft in 1940. Zoe was a trained German Shepard, called an Alsatian in the UK. I wouldn't have mentioned that except that Zoe was an Australian Alsatian, and American readers would be confused by the English convention. I was. So more here, here and here.
"ZOE, an Alsatian police dog attached to the Sydney (Australia) Police Force, is shown performing tricks in response to commands issued to her via short-wave radio. A miniature radio receiver was strapped to the animal’s back and a police officer whispered instructions into the microphone of a transmitter located some distance away. Hearing her master’s voice, Zoe dutifully carried out the commands."
The dog is not radio controlled in the technical sense. The dog was trained for 2 years by Constable Denholm with verbal commands like any other trained dog. It's just that in this case the commands are issued by a short wave radio strapped to the dog. Zoe probably recognizes Constable Denholm's voice, but verbal commands. In another demonstation Zoe climbed up and down ladders, turned a faucet on and off, took off her collar, and fired a revolver. For the record there was not a gun strapped to the dog.

For these demonstrations Denholm, strapped a miniature shortwave radio receiver and a battery pack on the back of Zoe. Then from a shack fifty yards away he issued commands into a microphone connected to a portable shortwave transmitter. The fame lasted perhaps two years, what happened to Zoe after that I have no idea.