A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Driving Miss Dogsy

dog-car-drivers-120612Monty settles into the driver’s seat, starts the car, puts it in gear, and heads off down the road, carefully steering as he goes.

You’ve probably seen a video clip on TV or online. But this is not just a stunt … well, OK, it’s a stunt, but it’s one with a lifesaving purpose.

Monty, a giant schnauzer, Porter, a bearded collie, and Ginny, a whippet mix, are all dogs who were abandoned and taken to the SPCA Auckland shelter in New Zealand. And the purpose of teaching them how to drive a car is to help teach the rest of us just how smart and capable a rescue dog can be.

“Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks,” shelter director Christine Kalin told the New Zealand Herald. “One of our hopes with this campaign is not only do we see an increase in adoption in the next month but on a long-term basis, too.”

The dogs completed their training and their test drive this week, and next week they’ll be getting their official debut on live TV.

Leading the training program was Mark Vette with his team from Animals on Q. (He trains all kinds of other animals, too, for TV commercials, movies, etc., and we’d like wildlife to be out of the entertainment business altogether, once and for all. But we’reĀ  fine with the whole dog program and its purpose.)

Here’s the 8-minute video of the three dogs, from the day they’re selected at the shelter for the program to the day they take their first test drive:

And if you’re looking for something a bit shorter, here’s a 90-second version with just the highlights:

In the test drives, they had one of the trainers in the passenger seat, but next week they’ll be on their own for the live TV event.

Note: As you can see, they learned to drive in New Zealand, where everyone drives on the “wrong” side of the road. So if you want to adopt one of them and try them out on, say, the 405 Freeway in L.A., they’d probably need to take an extra few lessons.

Note Two: As far as we know, the dogs have not been taught to roll down the windows if they want to get out and go for a walk and leave you in the car.