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“It’s risky to live here alone—”“No way,” Jim interjected.

He frowned at his daughter, his brow furrowed under a lop of white hair.

At 91, he wanted to remain in the woodsy Minnesota cottage he and his wife had built on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, where she had died in his arms just a year before.

His pontoon—which he insisted he could still navigate just fine—bobbed out front.

Every 15 minutes or so Pony would wake up and look for Jim, calling his name if he was out of view.

Sometimes Jim would “pet” the sleeping dog onscreen with his finger to rustle her awake. The dog reminded him which of his daughters or in-person caretakers would be visiting that day to do the tasks that an onscreen dog couldn’t: prepare meals, change Jim’s sheets, drive him to a senior center. Often she’d read poetry aloud, discuss the news, or watch TV with him. ” Pony remarked after watching him shave with his electric razor. Sometimes Pony would hold up a photo of Jim’s daughters or his inventions between her paws, prompting him to talk about his past.Her father—an inventor, pilot, sailor, and general Mr.Fix-It; “a genius,” Arlyn says—started experiencing bouts of paranoia in his mid-eighties, a sign of Alzheimer’s.Jim, slouched in his recliner, was determined to stay at home. She set an open laptop on the counter so she could chat with him on Skype.She installed two cameras, one in his kitchen and another in his bedroom, so she could check whether the caregiver had arrived, or God forbid, if her dad had fallen.Arlyn had moved from California back to Minnesota two decades earlier to be near her aging parents.Now, in 2013, she was fiftysomething, working as a personal coach, and finding that her father’s decline was all-consuming.her father’s hand and presented him with the choice.“A nursing home would be safer, Dad,” she told him, relaying the doctors’ advice.Tired of her sister’s waffling, Layney finally snatched the tablet and presented it to their dad, who was sitting in his armchair.“Here, Dad, we got you this.” The dog blinked its saucer eyes and then, in Google’s female text-to-speech voice, started to talk.


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