Last year Hasbro wowed, and saddened us a little, with a new line of toys targeted at seniors in need of a companion, but without the need for all the mess that comes along with a pet. The first addition to its Joy For All line was a robotic cat, but it's now being joined by a robotic golden retriever that any dog lover would spend hours playing with.
You can think of the Companion Pet Pup as a sort of Tamagotchi virtual pet for the retired, but without any buttons to press, or goals to chase. You can interact with the tiny golden retriever by speaking to it, which causes the dog to look at you and respond with puppy-like sounds. Or you can stroke the hair along its back to trigger a soft heartbeat that can be felt while the toy is held close.
The Companion Pet Pup can't walk around, which means it won't be able to retrieve things or help with any chores. But it also won't incessantly bark at the postman every morning, and won't trigger allergies, if you've always wanted a dog but would rather not live your life on antihistamines.
At $US120 ($156) when it's available this spring it's certainly more expensive that a simple plush version of a golden retriever, but it's much cheaper than owning a real dog, with part of the affectionate payoff. Pricing and availability in Australia has not been announced.