New Zealand Dogs Learn How to Drive

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Not the New Zealand chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which has launched a marketing campaign featuring dogs - real dogs - learning how to drive. Really.

SPCA Auckland chose three abandoned dogs - Monty, Ginny and Porter - and put them behind the wheel of a car to show that rescue dogs are a first-rate choice for adoptions.

"I think sometimes people think because they're getting an animal that's been abandoned that somehow it's a second-class animal," SPCA Auckland's CEO, Christine Kalin, told the New Zealand Herald. "Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks."

The trio of highway-ready rescue dogs was chosen by SPCA two months ago and then relocated to Animals on Q, a "premiere New Zealand animal talent agency," according to its website, to begin their "doggy driver training process," the Herald reported.

The dogs have trained for the past eight weeks under the supervision of Animals on Q owner Mark Vette. Next week one of the dog's skills will be put to the test in front of a live national TV audience.

Porter, a 10-month-old Beardie Cross and the star among the three pups, will drive a Mini Countryman on the "Campbell Live" program on New Zealand's 3 News, the station reported in a sneak peek that aired last night.

The TV appearance will mark the first time that Porter, or any of the other pups, drives without human assistance. While training, Porter - along with Monty, an 18-month Giant Schnauzer, and, Ginny, a 1-year-old whippets cross - used a canine-modified Mini, but had human help in the form of steering wheel adjustments and verbal commands, the Herald reports.

"Like the rest of the New Zealand we'll just have to sit back and hope they perform on the day," SPCA's Kalin told the paper. "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."

A message requesting comment from the SPCA was not immediately returned.

Last month the organization used a campaign with the tagline, "It's raining cats and dogs," to get local roofers to repair most of the leaky roof of the chapter's headquarters for free, according to its website.