Dogs hit the road in a specially modified MINI
By C.C. Weiss
December 15, 2012
A cute canine is something that shouldn't need much marketing – it pretty much sells itself. Or so you'd think. According to the ASPCA, around two million dogs are euthanized each year after finding their way into shelters. People simply don't adopt these abandoned and lost dogs at the same rate they find their way into shelters. For this reason, the SPCA in Auckland, New Zealand, which estimates it alone has anywhere from 50 to 100 dogs eagerly awaiting new owners each week, decided it was time to advertise with the launch of an advertising campaign that put the dogs back on the streets ... behind the wheel of a specially modified car.
Anyone that's ever owned a dog (at least an obedient one) knows that they're smart animals open to training. But most probably didn't think they could be trained to operate a vehicle.
To show it's possible, SPCA Auckland outfitted a MINI Countryman specially for canine drivers. It moved the accelerator and brake pedals up where the dog could reach them, added paw-friendly handles to the steering wheel, and made the ignition start button easier to activate.
Three dogs – Ginny, Monty and Porter – worked with four trainers over the course of two months to develop their driving skills. Similar to how some first-time human drivers learn on a simulator, the dogs learned the basics of the controls on a training set-up. Recently, Porter got behind the real wheel and became the world's first driving dog.
MINI wasn't simply chosen because of its small cars; the automaker made it happen. Simonne Mearns, MINI's New Zealand brand manager, asked its advertising agency DraftFCB to develop a campaign for the SPCA. DraftFCB responded in a big way, coming up with something that has turned the world's attention toward the topic of animal adoption – the YouTube video "Meet Porter. The World's First Driving Dog" received more than three million views in less than a week.
Seeing-eye dogs aren't likely to be replaced by driving-eye dogs anytime soon, but it sure is interesting to know that dogs can be trained to drive an automobile. It's also fun to watch – check out the videos below for some driving footage of the three dogs along with a video showing the modifications that were made to the vehicle to make it dog-friendly.
Source: MINI New Zealand