Pedal Pushing Pooches (Dogs can Drive)!

-By: Brittany Reid

Dogs have been man’s best friends for centuries.  They have operated as hunters, security guards, and service dogs for those who are handicapped.  So, what’s the next step for our canine companions?  How about seeing these furry, four-legged creatures driving next to us on the highway?  Well, it’s highly possible!  According to recent studies conducted just this week, it has been proven that dogs have the ability to drive!
            New Zealand’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) recently rescued three abandoned pups and spent two months training them on how to operate buttons and gear shifts similar to that of a car.  Monty (an 18-month-old giant schnauzer), Porter (a 10-month-old beardie cross), and Ginny (a 1-year-old whippets cross), were the lucky pups chosen to take part in this experiment.  After mastering the control of various buttons and levers, the animals were put behind the wheel of a specially designed test vehicle to practice what they had learned during training.  Then, the dogs were taken to a wide field for a rehearsal run.  There, they garnered worldwide recognition when footage of the rehearsal made headline news on renowned networks like CNN.  This Monday, the dogs were taken to the racetracks for their official solo performances.  Monty and Porter’s successful test runs were broadcasted live on New Zealand’s 3 News TV station.  Ginny’s test was not aired.
(Highlights of Porter’s test shown below)

            The purpose behind this experiment was to increase promotion for adopting dogs from rescue shelters by showing that they are highly capable of being trained and tamed.  Many people opt to purchase well-bred dogs when the rescued ones are in need of a home too.  All it takes is a lot of Tender Loving Care, along with patience, and they can do anything (like drive a stick-shift)!  But the possibilities of how this could directly affect our society are endless!  Dogs already aid humans by performing duties such as leading the blind and sniffing out drugs for law enforcement.  Could you imagine them driving around the visually impaired or taking part in a high-speed chase alongside their human police-partners? …okay, so maybe that is a stretch.  But hey, after Mishka the Talking Husky went viral showing that dogs can imitate human sound, just about anything is possible!  The world may be “going to the dogs” a lot sooner than we think!
So the next time you’re training your pooch to “sit,” “speak,” “roll-over,” or “play-dead,” you may want to start adding the phrases “drive,” “turn,” “put it in neutral,” and “park,” to your list of dog-commands!

For more information about the SPCA and their efforts to encourage the adoption of abandoned canines, visit their Facebook page here: DrivingDogs.

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