[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWAK0J8Uhzk[/youtube]By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
Two dogs from New Zealand have passed their driver’s test after months of training behind the wheel.
Porter and Monty, two cross-breed canines, were trained to drive a modified vehicle completely on their own from steering to braking to taking turns -- and beyond. Both dogs were able to control the car at the same efficiency as the humans who trained them.
The doggie driver’s ed program was sponsored by the Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in hopes to drum up interest in animal adoptions. After the video went viral a week ago, the pooches have racked up over 17,000 likes on their Facebook page.
The dogs’ trainer, Mark Vette, says his canines do all the driving with the exception of slight modifications that accommodate the dog’s body to the vehicle.
"It's all the dog doing it," Vette said. "He's started the key, put the paw on the brake to allow it to go into gear, put it into drive, paw on the steering wheel, accelerator on, and off he goes down the track."
Both Monty and Porter received two months of training behind the wheel before taking their driver’s test.
Porter, a 10-month bearded collie mix, was officially the world’s first driving dog after being taught in September. His doggie-colleague Monty, an 18-month giant schnauzer, was the next dog in line to learn how to drive. Their canine companion, a 1-year-old beardie whippet cross Ginny, also learned to drive but did not take her driver’s test earlier this week.
This isn’t the first time a canine has emulated human behavior. Police use canines for search-and-rescue operations and drug arrests. And for years, sight-seeing dogs have helped blind or handicapped people accomplish day-to-day tasks.
Vette said teaching the dogs to drive was a feat. "I must say, this has been the toughest assignment we've had," he said. Thankfully, no car accidents have been reported but the team did encounter one faux pas when the vehicle’s foot nob broke off, causing the modified car to speed off, canine in tote. Fortunately, the training team chased the car down and there were no injuries.
Experts say advances in canine training can lead to driving dogs, similar to sight-seeing dogs, for the handicapped or blind – although it’ll likely be years ahead before we’ll see any kind of dog driving.
As for the dogs’ instant fame, Vette added, "This was an opportunity to show New Zealand - and as it's turned out the world - how amazing these animals are."
About Michael Pines
Michael Pines founded the
Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC
, in San Diego in 1992. He is an accident and injury prevention expert in San Diego, and he is on a campaign to end senseless injury one blog at a time.