Would you trust your dog to drive you to work? It sounds far fetched, but it may be closer to reality than you think. In Auckland, New Zealand, the SPCA has taught three shelter dogs to drive.
In a modified Mini Cooper, Ginny, a whippet mix, Porter, a beardie, and Monty, a giant schnauzer have all "passed" their driving tests-on national television, no less! Guided by their trainers who walked alongside the vehicle, the dogs maneuvered around a closed course, demonstrating their skills. They have been trained to steer, shift, accelerate and brake from their buckled in upright position in the driver's seat.
In just four weeks, the dogs were trained on the basic commands, using dummy stick shifts, padded "pedals" and lots of tasty treats. Another four weeks were spent piecing together the driving commands and eventually letting the dogs behind the wheel.
The modified Mini Cooper Countryman is fitted with a 7 mph speed cap, specially designed safety harness and of course, the unique controls. The instructors are present at all times and have their own brake and kill switch to use in case of emergency.
The project was intended to show how limitless dogs' trainability and talents are. The SPCA wanted to highlight how intelligent rescues can be, and to encourage adoption. Mini sponsored the training, videos and of course, the training vehicle.
Keep an eye out for canine drivers when you are on the road in your Mini car rental in New Zealand, and if you are looking to bring a dog into your home, remember to check your local shelter for the brightest, most loving and sweet pets in the world.