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(CNN) -- It's one of the biggest sources of guilt for a dog owner -- not spending enough time with their four-legged friends.
Now, a U.S. company has developed a device in a bid to reduce those feelings of despair, by inventing a cell phone so that dogs and their owners can communicate when they are away from each other.
The PetsCell, measuring 12.5cm (5 inches) by 7.5cm (3 inches), is shaped like a bone and is attached to the dog's collar. It works in much the same way as a conventional mobile phone.
The owner dials their pooch's number and after one ring, it automatically connects to the phone on the dog's collar, allowing the dog to hear its master's voice, transmitted out of a speaker built into the collar-piece.
If the dog barks in response, the owner will hear it through their own telephone, creating a dog-owner telephone "conversation."
PetsCell inventor Canadian Cameron Robb is now director of PetsMobility, the Arizona-based company producing the device.
As well as acting as a catalyst for absentee owners to communicate with their muts, Robb has also had interest in the device from search-and-rescue and hunting groups.
He believes it would also be useful to help find lost dogs.
"The ability to talk to your pet from a distance on the pet's own cellular phone is definitely novel," he said.
"But I envision the PetsCell having search-and-rescue, military, guide dog or even potentially patient and elderly care applications, to name a few."
The device costs about £100 ($188) and is expected to be on sale in the U.S. within the next six months, and in Britain by the end of the year.
Tim Miles, chief veterinary adviser for Britain's RSPCA, said micro-chipping dogs was a better way of keeping track of dogs.
Micro chipping involves a vet inserting a tiny device, about the size of a grain of rice, under the dog's skin.
If the dog is lost or stolen, dog wardens, the RSPCA or a vet can scan it for a microchip, which can immediately provide them with your contact details.
"The mobile phone could be removed by dog thieves, but a microchip is a reliable, permanent form of identification linking the animal to you," Miles said.