The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

In a campaign to boost the image of shelter pets, a trainer in New Zealand has taught 3 dogs at the Auckland SPCA to drive.  Cars.  During the 8 week crash course (I know), the dogs have been driving with assistance from humans.  But one of the dogs is set to take a vehicle out for a spin on his own next week.  The test drive will be broadcast on live TV.  The idea is to show that shelter dogs are clever and can be trained to suit.  The SPCA is hoping to increase adoptions.

HuffPo wins the caption contest for this story.  (Scroll down a bit.)

Follow the driving dogs on Facebook.

Hopefully no one, including Old Dixie, will actually be run over.

22 thoughts on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

  1. Well isn’t this *special*? I guess we know far along the road towards the animal rights belief system the desperate SPCA is willing to go to push animal exceptionalism to a ridiculous degree. Other than a special “trick”, what on earth could possibly come of this? Responsible driver? Not likely. The SPCA must not have anything else to do with its donations. I’d be pretty pissed to know that my donations went for this!

    1. It gave me a different impression – that they were trying to put a symbolically human behavior on a dog in order to appeal to adopters – like teaching a dog to “pray”. It’s certainly unique and they should get credit for that. I honestly checked several sources to make sure it wasn’t a hoax before posting. Definitely something I’ve never come across before.

      1. Did you see the results of this? Epic fail. Unsurprisingly. They’re talking it up for Africa of course like the Emperor has no clothes. All I want to know now is how much Mark Vette pocketed.

    2. Wow what a negative Nancy!

      I think this is really cool, and the article linked explains very clearly what the trainers intent was. Very cute.

    3. I wouldn’t be at all angry. It’s an unusual stunt, but – I’ve spoken with a lot of people who really do think all shelter dogs are damaged, untrained, and likely to be untrainable. Something like this, a very complex trick indeed, puts paid to that. Mind you, you’d think that the long history of shelter dogs who’ve been successfully trained for movie work would’ve too, but some popular untruths die hard.

    4. You’d be even more pissed to know what the National President is being paid for NOTHING and that anything remotely Pit Bull is murdered by this SPCA and many others in New Zealand. The ex-manager of this SPCA admitted during an interview with the Inland Revenue Department that he was given a $20k bonus. How many others? How many animals would that money be better used for re-homing?

  2. Color me charmed. I think it’s a great way to make shelter dogs more attractive. And these dogs seem to be learning to drive faster than I did as a teenager!

  3. What a horrible shame that the National President of the RNZSPCA is Bob “All Pit Bulls Are Born Bad” Kerridge.

  4. Does anyone know if the NZ show will be shown on utube or on their FB page? I’d love to see it. I, too, am wondering how this is going to be accomplished but if it is – what coverage this should receive!

  5. That is such an epic-fail idea.

    1. Adopters don’t care if dogs can drive.
    2. Adopters DO care when their clicker-trained, resource-seeking dogs tries to “drive” while going 55 mph on the highway.
    3. Adopters care about whether dogs chew, piss on stuff, can walk well on a leash, like other dogs, or bite people.

    This is such a waste of time and resources that could be better utilized on target-training dogs to, you know, exhibit behaviors that adopters care about and that don’t endanger dog or human out in the real world.

    You know, stuff like “sit” and “loose lead walk” and “down” and “stay” and “come” and maybe something stupid like “wave” or “paw” or “twirl in a circle”.

    1. Tend to agree with you on this. There are better ways of showing the public that shelter dogs are very adoptable without turning them into some kind of circus act.

      1. You have to understand. This SPCA cares more about their own egos, being a bunch of TV stars than the reality of the animals they inflict their show-stopping antics upon. You need to watch a few of their TV shows and then compare their performance to their real world standards. It’s nearly as hard to get them out to do their job as it is to get animal control off their butts and that culture is rife throughout New Zealand. As one ex-staffer said, you have to follow the money to see how deeply the rot has set in. Donors would be disgusted if they knew.

      2. @Karen
        Then the donors need to be made aware. Is there anyone who will step up and give the public the facts?

      3. Yes, DB, the manager who got the $20k bonus one Christmas went public and he was treated like someone venting sour grapes. I heard the interview with the IRD, he sent me a copy on dvd, but the matters he raised have never seen the light of day. Animal welfare in this country is a cash cow for the self-serving and unethical. Check this out:
        The people exposed here have used the full force of the law to try shut this lady up and bring her to bankruptcy.
        The world over the greedies have got a strangle hold. They have that strangle hold because as long as you are a ‘name’ with friends in high places you can get away with anything. Until we fix that we can not call ourselves civilised.

  6. So here’s the promo for the dog training stunt here from Bob Kerridge’s Auckland “SPCA”. Sound like re-homing dogs or a promotion for Animals on Q? You decided:

    “Hi Karen,

    Can you teach a dog to drive?

    Well, tonight’s the night.

    After 10 weeks of driving training, eight trips to the engineers, 77kgs of biscuits, 23,000 “good boys” and 11,000 “good girls,” we’re going to find out if a SPCA dog can drive a car. For real.

    Join us tonight on Campbell Live as Porter, our smart Beardie Cross from Mangere East, attempts a solo drive in a MINI, live on national TV.

    All paws crossed.

    Meet the Driving Dogs this Saturday

    You’ve seen them on Campbell Live, now come and meet them in person! This weekend is your chance to see Porter, Monty & Ginny demonstrating their skills live on the training rig. Find out how the world’s first driving dogs have been trained and check out the actual modified MINI Countryman driven by the dogs.

    > Hourly live demonstrations with the dogs on the training rig
    > Talk to the trainers from Animals on Q
    > Adopt your own smart dog from SPCA Auckland
    > Find out about fostering or volunteering
    > Food and drinks available

    > This is a great day out for all the family. We do ask that you do NOT bring your dogs to this event

    Join us on Saturday 15 December between 10.30am – 2.30pm.
    Entry: Gold coin donation to the SPCA.
    SPCA Auckland, 50 Westney Rd, Mangere

  7. @Karen- according to the link the RSPCANZ has gone no kill and are keeping stray cats alive in cages angering AR people and citizens who obviously hate Cats.
    Is not TNR a program that could or is done??

    1. TNR is the ONLY answer when you’re dealing with sane people, Kittypurr as you plainly know. Kippenberger talks the talk, She doesn’t walk the walk.
      Don’t forget, “No kill” does not include Pit Bulls and their lookalikes in this country. The killing goes on unabated despite their TV stunts like the driving dogs.

  8. @Karen- I am so sad to here this about NZ.
    I always held your country in Very high regard for common sense and down to earth- goodness. My trips there and interaction with the people was most fulfilling.
    To hear that is has gone the way of stupid and Crooked like the US makes me want to cry. Well scratch one more place off my list as a possible haven.

    1. We are good people, those of us at the bottom of the heap that is, Kittypurr. I get to meet so many good buggers in my dealings with those who have a soul to care with in truly caring about animal welfare. We are apparently run by a bunch of seriously bad buggers or I wouldn’t be telling you these horrible truths. And you are right to scratch us off your list of acceptable places to visit until we sort this out!
      I made the mistake of holding NZ in high regard too, hence my decision to stay here and work hard. I never thought NZ would be so brainless as to go the BSL way for example. Silly me.

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