Old dogs are said to be incapable of learning new tricks, but the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals thinks they are. The NZSPCA, in fact, is using several strays as a show piece and teaching dogs to drive.
Teaching dogs to drive is a bit of a dog and pony act
This might be a stunt, but darned if it’s not awesome. The New Zealand chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is going to some considerable lengths to prove you absolutely can teach old dogs new tricks, according to the Daily Mail.
It’s some trick. The NZSCPA is teaching dogs to drive.
Three abandoned dogs, Porter, Monty and Ginny, which in pictures are slightly scraggly but still adorable, are being taught to drive a modified MiniCooper. According to Time magazine, it’s the Countryman model. The menagerie of mutts will appear in a live driving test in New Zealand later this month. It is a stunt, in a sense; the point is to show the potential of rescued or abandoned dogs, in an effort to get more Kiwis to adopt dogs.
Teaching dogs to drive isn’t rocket science, but it’s labor intensive. Each action in driving, using the pedals, changing gear and steering, has to be taught; the NZSPCA’s trainers teach them how to do things like press a button, move a lever and a steering wheel, sort of like driving. According to the New Zealand Herald, the process took about 8 weeks and was supervised by Mark Vette, a renowned animal trainer in that country.
The dogs are then moved to wooden training chairs, simulating the driver’s seat, replete with pedals, gear lever and steering wheel. Then it’s into the real deal, a modified MiniCountryman, with modified pedals that can be accessed by the rear paws via extensions. Mini is actually sponsoring the event, after the company heard about what the NZSPCA was up to.
The drive test, according to the New Zealand Herald, is taking place at a closed track.
Don’t do it at home
This doesn’t necessarily mean a person should head to, say, a dealer of Toyota in Atlanta or wherever and buy a new Avalon or Land Cruiser for Fido to shuttle them around in. It’s more likely the amateur trying to get their dogs driving cars will wind up like the “Toonces the Driving Cat” sketch from “Saturday Night Live.” For those that don’t remember the sketch, a cat tried to drive and every instance of the sketch resulted in the car going over a cliff.
For instance, a Chinese woman in Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, a northern region of China, found that out the hard way while trying to teach her dog to drive in 2006, according to the Daily Mail. Identified only by her surname, Li, she tried to teach the dog to drive as her pooch had a habit of sitting on her lap while in the car and putting its paws on the steering wheel. She operated the pedals and tried to get the dog to steer. They crashed into an oncoming car. Luckily, no one was hurt.
Going to the dogs
Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-402637/Woman-crashes-car-teaching-dog-drive.html