Specially trained dogs become first to drive cars

Forget taking your dog for a walk; he might prefer that you hand over the car keys.

An SPCA organization in Auckland, New Zealand, has successfully completed an ambitious publicity stunt in which they taught three dogs to drive, according to the Herald Sun.

On Dec. 10 after eight weeks of training, a fuzzy duo named Porter and Monty cemented their legacy as the first dogs to drive a car without human passengers.

Auckland SPCA conceived the stunt as a way to change the public’s perception that rescue dogs have less intelligence than dogs that are found at pet stores, breeders, or other non-rescue outlets, according to the Herald Sun.

Designing a driver's education for dogs

The organization chose three dogs named Monty, Porter, and Ginny to enroll in eight weeks of driving lessons.

The dogs have been working with trainers to hone their driving skills through a gradually escalating series of exercises that began with rewarding the dogs for learning to operate different parts of a car.

The trainers then introduced the dogs to driving go-karts and finally handed over the keys to a specially modified Mini that accommodates the dogs’ anatomy.

According to the Herald Sun, the customized car features handles on the steering wheel as well as accelerator and brake pedals at the same height as the dashboard.

The dogs spent the first two months of their training with human passengers, but on Dec. 10 Monty and Porter each took solo laps around a track while being televised on national television in New Zealand.

Going viral for big results

The publicity stunt has gained widespread attention for the SPCA seeking homes, showcasing the shelter dogs' intelligence and ability to learn just as quickly as dogs with more "prestigious" backgrounds.

According to the Herald Sun, a YouTube video of the dogs practicing their driving skills has already garnered more than 700,000 views and been shown on media outlets worldwide.

NEWStat Interesting/unusual