New Zealanders have a great track record for creating world firsts. Sir Ed was the first to knock the bastard off, Kate Sheppard was the first to secure the vote for women and Kiwis were the first to take bungy jumping to the world.
And now on December 10, another Kiwi – Porter, a 10 month old Beardie Cross from SPCA Auckland – is set to make the ambitious attempt to drive a car, live on New Zealand television.
MINI wanted to help SPCA Auckland change some common misconceptions about rescue dogs, so they decided, with the help of acclaimed animal trainer Mark Vette and team, to teach three SPCA dogs to drive a MINI Countryman to showcase just how intelligent SPCA rescue dogs are. The training has taken place over the last eight weeks with the dogs set to do their official test drive on Monday 10 December, live on Campbell Live.
“Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training, which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets,” says Christine Kalin, SPCA Auckland CEO.
The project, a collaboration between SPCA Auckland, renowned animal trainer Mark Vette from Animals on Q and MINI New Zealand began just two months ago when three SPCA rescue dogs; Monty, Porter and Ginny were selected from SPCA Auckland. They were rehoused at Animal on Q headquarters and began the doggy driver training process.
Commenting on the training, Mark Vette said, “Monty, Porter and Ginny are great dogs each with their own distinct personality. You wouldn’t believe any dog could learn to drive a car on its own and the way all three SPCA rescue dogs have taken to training really does prove that intelligent creatures adapt to the situation they’re in. It really is remarkable.”
Simonne Mearns, MINI Brand Manager New Zealand says MINI has a history of supporting SPCA and wanted to continue that support this year, “This is a fun campaign but we hope it will seriously encourage people to consider SPCA dogs for pets, we want this campaign to raise SPCA awareness and drive adoptions. The MINI Countryman has been modified to suit operation by paws and will be reverted and available for sale after the campaign.”
New Zealanders can find out more about the dogs by visiting drivingdogs.co.nz where they can meet Monty, Porter and Ginny online, watch videos of the training, and find out about their local SPCA and how they can adopt.
“Ultimately the aim is that an SPCA rescue dog will become top of mind and top choice for people thinking of adopting a pet,” says Kalin. “We’ve seen many people rewarded by the gratefulness of an SPCA rescue dog after adoption and we hope all New Zealanders consider the SPCA as an adoption option.”