A pair of well-trained dogs from New Zealand recently passed their test to drive a customized car on a race course while being broadcast live on television.
A duo of cross-breed rescue dogs from Auckland was trained to operate an automobile, complete with steering and pedals, as part of an initiative to increase pet adoptions from animal shelters and demonstrate the potential of unwanted pets.
The motorized mutts’ training footage has become an internet hit, but their real test came when Monty and Porter, the two top performers, were put to the test live on national television. The customized Mini was driven down the straight by Monty the big Schnauzer Cross, who is said to be the first of its kind in the entire globe.
According to trainer Mark Vette, “the dog is doing it all.” He has started the engine, applied the brake to allow the vehicle to shift into gear, put the vehicle in drive, applied the accelerator, and is now moving down the road. Mr. Vette, who has experience working with animals on multiple film sets, said that when the proposal was first proposed, he had his misgivings.
This has been the hardest assignment we’ve ever had, I must say,” he stated. We’ve worked on several major motion pictures, like The Last Samurai and The Lord of the Rings, but getting a dog inside a car without a trainer and having it perform the entire stunt on its own has proven to be a significant challenge.
“There’s no one in the car, no stunts; just Monty driving, which he adores.” He claimed the vehicle, which has handles mounted on the steering wheel and stops and accelerator pedals at dashboard height, also features a speed limiter to limit its top speed to a walking pace. Although he claims there was an accident before the driving test. He explained, “The knob broke off this morning and he went gone down the road at about 30 km an hour and we had to chase him.”
Porter, a collie-cross with a beard, then attempted the riskier maneuver of maneuvering the car around one of the racetrack’s turns as a tv reporter sat in the passenger seat. Despite running off the track and onto a grass verge once when the reporter jitterily implored the trainers, “Can we stop now?” he was mainly successful.
Christine Kalin, chief executive of the Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), expressed her shock at the global response and joy that the shelter’s message had reached such a large audience.
We work with these dogs every day, so we are aware of how amazing they are. Some people believe that acquiring a shelter dog makes them feel like second-class citizens, she said. This was a chance to demonstrate to New Zealanders, and ultimately the world, just how magnificent these animals are.