“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” –Mark Twain
While it’s hard to imagine for me now that I have one, there are plenty of people out there who have never known the rewards and joys that come with rescuing an animal. This week, I present to you a song by six future Soundgarden-and-Pearl Jam members back when they were part of the band Temple of the Dog,
And while there are many internet jokes out there about dogs driving cars…
…this is about to become a reality.
Because while the dogs above are not really driving their cars, the dog below, named Ginny, is.
This is no joke: dogs are being trained to drive cars for real. New Zealand’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has spent seven weeks working with and training different three of their rescue dogs to teach them to drive. The hope is that by demonstrating the remarkable intelligence and capabilities of rescue dogs, they’ll do a better job securing good homes for rescue dogs, particularly the older ones that are wanted less frequently.
The three dogs chosen for this task were Monty, an 18-month-old schnauzer who was given up by his owner who deemed him “uncontrollable,” Ginny (in the photos above and below), a one-year-old whippet mix who was rescued from abusive owners, and Porter, a ten-month-old bearded collie mix, who was found in the streets after being abandoned.
The remarkable thing is that, with just a little bit of training and positive reinforcement, all of these dogs were able to learn an increasingly complex chain of commands, culminating in being able to control a motor vehicle.
A television program that highlights these dogs will air on New Zealand television this coming week. The CEO of SPCA Auckland, Christine Kalin, had the following to say:
I think sometimes people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal.
Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training, which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.
The dogs were trained to not only steer, but to start a car, accelerate, brake, and shift gears as needed.
You might think I’m either exaggerating or pulling your leg, but I assure you that this is not the case. Yes, there are plenty of genuine write-ups (and pictures) of this story, but perhaps the following two videos will demonstrate to you just how impressive this actually is. (Warning: both videos have an advertisement preceding them.)
Monty, Porter and Ginny are great dogs each with their own distinct personality. You wouldn’t believe any dog could learn to drive a car on its own and the way all three SPCA rescue dogs have taken to training really does prove that intelligent creatures adapt to the situation they’re in. It really is remarkable.
Yes, yes it is. Watch the full story (so far) here. Have a great rest-of-your-weekend, and if you’re considering getting a pet for your children, a loved one or just for yourself, please strongly consider getting a rescue animal. There’s nothing like it in the world.