Yes, these dogs can drive. The car you see them drive isn't being driven by their human friend. It isn't April and this isn't an April Fool's joke. The smart furry canines at the SPCA Auckland have been trained to be able to drive a car. The rescue dogs - Monty, Porter and Ginny - can all drive a Mini Countryman on a track. Have you done that yet?
The dogs get into the car, start it with their paws, steer it, work the acceleration and brake pedals, which have been modified to meet requirements for a special needs driver. This does not mean that you will soon see dogs driving around your town or the next time you call an Uber, the driver will be a dog!
The purpose behind this exercise is to demonstrate that the rescue dogs are smart and docile, and this could perhaps help with their adoption.
Porter was found wandering the streets, Ginny was abused by her owners and rescued by the SPCA and Monty was surrendered by his owners to the rescue. Porter and Ginny initially got carsick during the exercises, but have since gotten over this. Monty was the first to start a car, put it in gear and driving it about 70 metres before bringing it to a stop.
The dogs were carefully selected and underwent five weeks of simulated training to teach them to how to brake, shift gear and steer – along which they were obviously awarded with doggy treats. After just seven weeks the dogs were ready for a real car.