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New Zealand’s Driving Dogs

New Zealand’s local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) gives dogs driving lessons to drive up dog adoption.

Meet Porter, Monty and Ginny, the world’s first driving dogs. They have been trained how to drive modified cars by the New Zealand SPCA. The aim was to demonstrate that rescue dogs are not only as good as dogs obtained from breeders, sometimes they could be even better — as they have shown by their driving skills recently.
New Zealand’s Driving Dogs
SPCA is hoping the resulting publicity would raise the rate of adopting rescue dogs like Porter, Monty and Ginny.
Porter, a 10-month old bearded collie cross, was an abandoned dog. Monty, an 18-month old Giant Schnauzer was given up by its owner to the SPCA (apparently too much to handle). Meanwhile Ginny, a bearded whippet cross, was literally a whipping dog — coming from an abusive home.

And now they have become internationally famous.

Porter and Monty made their unassisted driving debut in their first live driving test (December 10th) at an Auckland racetrack. Strapped to a modified Mini Countryman, Porter and Monty used their paws to do all the driving work: from starting the modified ignition key, hitting the brake, setting the car into gear, steering the wheel, to turning on the accelerator (there was a speed limiter so the car could not go above walking speed).

Ginny didn’t take the live test drive but her driving skills were similar to Porter and Monty’s.

And the offers for adoption poured in — for Porter and Monty. Ginny got less interest — possibly because she had less airtime, mused SPCA CEO Christine Kalin.
Which is understandable. People flock to the superstars. They missed out seeing more of Ginny, so many didn’t know she was there.

But the point of the campaign was not to produce dog superstars but to gain attention to the plight of rescue dogs who need ‘forever’ homes.

As the Drivingdogs admin posted back in December 12:

“If you are looking, there are loads of dogs at the SPCA, not all can drive, but all are just as amazing!.”

And slowly but surely, the option of getting rescue dogs is getting popular with those who are looking for pet companions. And getting there may be the best drive of all.
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