Three New Zealand rescue dogs have been given a new leash of life by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Four-legged friends Monty, Porter and Ginny - a giant schnauzer, a whippet cross and a beardie cross - have spent the last couple of months getting to grips with four wheels as they are taught how to drive a car. Yes, you read that right.
The SPCA has embarked on the project as part of a publicity drive to prove to potential owners how intelligent the abandoned dogs are. Animal trainer Mark Vette and his team of patient trainers took just eight weeks to progress from using a mock vehicle to the extraordinary sight of a dog parked in the driver's seat.
"We chain behaviours together... in this case we've got 10 behaviours we're putting together," explained Vette. "Then you put them into a sequence. It's a lot to do, and for the dog to actually start to get an idea of what actually is happening takes quite a long time.
"So we'll start the car, get into position, brake on, gear in place, back onto the steering wheel, accelerator, take off and hoon [drive fast] along the straight and then stop."
Possibly not a sight you wish to see in your rear-view mirror... But the canine learner drivers have plenty of reason to get hot under the collar when their new skills are showcased in a live driving test on national New Zealand television next Monday. Sounds paws-itively exciting to us...