For the past week, a driver’s training program in the land down under has gained international attention. On Monday night — New Zealand time — the final video of a driver’s test was released showing a 10-month-old taking to the wheel.
And although you might not think a 10-month-old should be playing with anything beyond soft, toy cars, you could change your mind when you think about Porter’s age in doggy years. You see, Porter is a beardie cross and, yes, he’s been trained to drive a manual car.
The Driving Dogs program was organized by SPCA of Auckland to show that dogs that have been abandoned and abused are smart, trainable and worthy of adoption.
“Our dogs may be a motley bunch, but they’re all smart and they’re all lovable,” SPCA wrote in a video’s description.
This video gives an overview of the program and the three dogs trained to drive in a specialized car:
It’s not just any manual car the canines are driving though: it’s a MINI Countryman. According to the SPCA Driving Dogs Facebook page, the donated car was modified by Ikon Engineering, with the largest change bring to bring the brake and gas pedals up so the dogs could reach them.
Porter is considered “the world’s first driving dog,” taking the MINI on a real track in the latest video. One commenter wrote that he’s also earned the title of the “fast and the furriest.”
Buckle up and watch him go:
If you’re wondering how the dogs were trained to drive a car, it started with learning basic commands in a model rig that didn’t move, and later with a rig on wheels.
They then took the dogs inside the car:
One challenge the trainers describe in the videos is that the dogs got car sick with some of the movement. After continuing to practice, the dogs became used to it.
Among the fascinating techniques it used to train the dogs to drive, the SPCA has also included video features to tell the dogs’ stories from before they became famous behind the wheel. Porter, for example, was a “street kid.” No one knew where he came from. Ginny was taken after she was found locked in a bathroom. Monty was surrendered to the SPCA.
Watch the trainer describe Porter and how much he’s grown under the SPCA’s care:
If you liked these videos, be sure to check out the Drivingdogs YouTube channel to see more.
According to the Financial Times, people looking into adoption dogs has gone up since the Driving Dogs campaign began.
(H/T: Daily Mail)