Dog Mode

There will come a time when dogs are welcome wherever humans are. We already see progress toward integration, as stores, restaurants, and other public spaces are designing facilities and enacting policies with the needs of animals in mind. In restaurants, this usually means a patio. In stores, this means allowing them to shop with their humans. In bars, this means the bartender gives you a drink, a wink, and looks the other way.

Despite these positive trends, dogs are still largely subject to segregationist policies both by design — through outright bans — and by neglect, simply because they were not considered when public spaces, and policies regarding the use of those spaces, were created.

On hot days, this puts people with dogs in a bind. On the one hand, the dogs can’t stay in the car because doing so is lethal. On the other hand, those who have thoroughly integrated the family dog into their daily lives don’t want them to stay home alone. Tesla has created the interim solution: Dog Mode.

Regardless of the outside temperature, Dog Mode allows you to control the internal temperature of your car to keep your dog comfortable and safe, with a large screen displaying an animated picture of a pup (reminiscent of a Jeff Koons balloon sculpture), a note that the air conditioner is on and what the internal temperature is to let concerned Good Samaritans know that the dog is comfortable, and a note that you’ll be right back. (In addition to keeping your dog cool in the summer, it could also keep your pup warm in the winter.) Should your battery reach 20%, you’ll be notified on your phone through the Tesla app.

It’s not only a dog lover’s solution to the quandary of having to choose between going out without the dog or not going out at all, but it is a major milestone: the understanding and appreciation by an automaker that dogs are family and people shouldn’t have to choose.

The idea for Dog Mode was hatched on social media when a dog lover tweeted at Elon Musk if he could add it to the Tesla software update. Teslas are essentially computers and adding Dog Mode is as simple as an update that goes out to all current Teslas on the road. When Musk replied with one word: “yes,” Dog Mode was born. It was a lightning strike. And dubbed Musk’s “finest moment.” More than that, Dog Mode is historical. It is revolutionary. It is a bold step toward a more animal-friendly future. And it promises to solve one of the ugly downsides of living with dogs. As all cars eventually embrace Dog Mode, first as an option and then, with generational change at government agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as a mandatory standard, the era of dogs dying in cars due to excessive temperatures will come to an end.

For now, there is Tesla.

In addition to being an electric car and better for the environment (and thus animals) and stylishly appointed with vegan leather, Dog Mode makes Tesla the car of choice for any family that includes four-footed members.*

Of course there is more to offer. I reached out to Tesla Public Relations and asked them when dog lovers will be able to use the car’s internal camera and speakers to monitor dogs from the app while they are away, so people can actually see and talk to their dogs, letting them know they will be back soon and will certainly bring a doggy bag with them.

If Tesla makes that happen, lightning will have struck twice.

* Think a Tesla is financially out of reach? Maybe not. At under $39,000, with relatively low interest rates (some banks will give you an additional discount for an electric car), as well as federal, state, and local incentives, the cost of the Model 3, complete with the coveted Dog Mode, can be as low as a gas car. In California, for example, there is a state rebate, often a local rebate, and an electric company rebate. Combined with federal tax credits, in some counties and depending on one’s income, it could bring the cost down by as much as $11,000. On top of that, you can drive solo in the carpool lane, it has incredible range, you save money on gas, maintenance and repairs, and as icing on the cake: the lack of a traditional motor means the front end is a second trunk, just big enough for a small havahart trap,   food, an extra leash, towels, an electric blanket, and the rest of your animal rescue kit so you are always ready!


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