Last month, in the great country of New Zealand, three dogs learned how to drive cars. I love New Zealand.
Though everything about this screams April Fools, it’s real. These dogs are driving cars. They are not just sitting in the cars looking like they are driving, they are in fact operating the moving vehicle — first training cars and then Minis. Their feet are working the gas and brake, their paws are handling the steering wheel and stickshift, their eyes are scanning the road for bunnies, their ears are listening to Three Dog Night (we hope).
Are they any good at it? Who cares!
Researchers taught the dogs to drive because, well, how could you not? They also did it as part of a campaign by the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to show how intelligent dogs are.
First, researchers put the dogs through driving school in specially built modified wooden training cars (want!) for eight weeks, then they tested the dogs in modified Minis.
“We train the dogs to do different actions,” said Mark Vette, the animal trainer who is teaching the dogs, according to the Daily Mail. “Touch is the first thing and then we teach them to touch the different objects with the right paw and left paw.
“They’ve all come through at this point and they’re all going really well.”
The point of all this (besides making sure somone’s obituary will have spice) is to get people to adopt more shelter dogs. SPCA Auckland Chief Executive Christine Kalin said, “Sometimes, people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal.”
“The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training,” Kalin said, “which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.”
The driving dogs, all rescues, are Porter, a 10-month-old Beardie Cross; Monty, an 18-month-old Schnauzer Cross; and Ginny, a 1-year-old Beardie Whippet Cross.
You might be thinking, sure, dogs might be able to drive on a closed course in a controlled environment, but how about in front of millions on a live TV show? Good point! The driving dogs will debut their prowess behind the wheel live Monday night on the New Zealand TV show Cambell Live. We expect schools to close and the entire country to tune in.
Via the Daily Mail