Hard to believe I haven’t heard of dogs driving before now. I came across a couple of articles recently purporting just that. How did I not know? Apparently, a decade ago there was news of dogs learning how to drive. A much-viewed video created in partnership with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in New Zealand, part of a campaign to demonstrate that shelter dogs can be trained to drive a car!! No matter their background, breed or tough life, these shelter pups were teachable!!
You must see this video of these three dogs, in particular: Porter, Monty and Ginny. They took on an eight-week training period to learn how to drive (Forbes), learning one skill at a time. Shifting was taught, and braking, then putting the steps together. Of course, we know many shelter dogs have been chosen to star in movies or perform circus routines at the behest of the ringmaster. The trainers spent 12 weeks training the 3 dogs. Each one was carefully selected and completed five weeks of simulated training to teach them braking, shifting gears and steering. They practiced on go-carts before taking to the track. Yes, treats were provided along the way! After only seven weeks, the pups were ready to compete in a real car.
Directed by a trainer from outside the vehicle, this video not only proves dogs can be trained to complete simple tasks (sit, lay down, etc.), but also complicated tasks. Often driven by treats, dogs are much smarter than we think or imagine. Proof of that is seen every day. For instance, a dog 1,000 miles from home finds its way back to his owner.
It seems that Monty was the first pup to successfully complete the task: starting the car, putting it into gear and driving 70 meters before coming to a safe stop. Porter the Pup teamed up with a reporter to complete a 180-degree turn-despite a little drifting!!
The article I discovered on dogs driving, penned by Elizabeth Blackstock in 2012 came with video of proof that these three dogs not only mastered braking and shifting, but managed to drive around a racetrack negotiating hairpin turns. As Blackstock witnessed, these 3 pups from Auckland wrapped their paws in the 10 and two position and drove a Mini Countryman-alone-down the racetrack. Airing on Campbell Live, the video of these cruising pups was part of a month-long campaign to demonstrate that dogs-no matter the breed-can master ‘human’ skills.
We learned that the dogs also made an appearance on the David Letterman Show to demonstrate their newly acquired pastime. They also received coverage from the BBC, The York Daily News and New York Times, the Guardian and the Daily Mail. Science blogs such as Live Science and Smithsonian also covered the action.
“What’s next,” you might ask. Well, as another journalist noted “Imagine your dog picking up the kids from school.” Or, picking up dinner at the drive-through at McDonalds!!!
According to a SPCA spokesman, all three dogs received many applications for adoption. The object: Not just to find them a home, but the PERFECT home!!
Be sure to look up the video online under ‘videos of dogs driving cars.’
Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
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