The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in New Zealand have been training three rescue dogs to drive cars. It’s part of a campaign to demonstrate that rescue dogs are just as intelligent, adaptable, and lovable as any other. They hope this campaign will encourage more potential owners to consider a rescue dog as a pet.
Over the course of two months, the dogs have been trained to perform a series of ten behaviours – in the format ‘paw here, get treat’ – which are then joined together into the sequences of actions that we perform every day to operate a car. The dogs were then tested on a mock vehicle, before moving on to a full-sized car – a specially dog-ified MINI.
What will our roads look like in the future? Will we look into the car next to us to see a paw resting idly on the steering wheel, a hairy face sniffing at the air? Between that, and Google cars with no driver at all, the future highways are beginning to look a little strange.
For more information on the campaign, how the SPCA went about training the dogs, and how MINI went about modifying the cars, see the drivingdogs.co.nz site. You can also follow the twitter – @drivingdogs – for updates.
By Laura Careless