A collage of a white fluffy dog licking its lips, a phone and a hand holding a dog treat in front of the dog's face

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Going to undergrad hours away from home, in Québec, had its pros and cons: I could practice my French, but I had to leave my Havanese dog, Lucky, at home. Lucky was just under two years old when I left him, and while I knew he’d be fine, I did miss him. My dad tried FaceTime to keep me connected with my fluffy little brother (of sorts), but he had no reaction.

Until I had an idea. 

I asked Lucky if he wanted a cookie. When my dad gave him one, he stared in the direction of the phone. The audio and visual of me, Lucky must have realized, was live, and I was talking to him. Food is a good motivator.

Now, when I call my dad, Lucky gets excited when he hears the ring, often begging for belly rubs (which I also taught him to do). He doesn’t always look at the screen, but he’s happy to listen to me. 

For a while, we thought Lucky just recognized my voice. Then my friend Sophie, who he’d only heard on Zoom, came to visit. Lucky isn’t that friendly with strangers, but the second they started to talk, he ran up to give them a lick—it was a technology friend, except in the flesh. He begged for belly rubs from them, too, of course.

In 2024, you too, reader, can train your dog to recognize you on FaceTime. It helps if they’re food-motivated. 

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