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Old dogs, new tricks: New Zealand canines taught how to drive

An SPCA in New Zealand is teaching dogs to drive. And it's working.

Three dogs are learning to start a car, accelerate, and steer, in a seven-week training workshop at the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Auckland.

Monty, a giant schnauzer, Ginny, a whippet cross and Porter, an old beardie cross, were once abandoned pets. Now they're celebrities with cheeky online profiles describing their personalities.

Ginny's profile says she was brought to the SPCA in a police car.

Trainer: 'Dogs Can Drive Cars,' TooThree dogs in New Zealand have been taught to drive a car. After weeks of indoor training in how to change gear, brake and steer, the canines have finally been allowed behind the wheel of a real car - with a little help from their handlers. (Dec. 5)

"I didn't drive that time though," says the profile written as though it's from the dog's perspective. "I let the policeman, seeing as it was his car."

[ Related: 'Noodles' the dog charged overdraft fee by British bank ]

They'll showcase their nifty new skills on live television next week, according to a Facebook event promoting the broadcast.

The campaign is irrefutable proof that dogs look adorable sitting in the driver's seat. But it serves a greater purpose.

"Obviously, we think dogs are pretty smart and amazing. And we reckon, if more people thought the same, more of our dogs would find happy homes," the Facebook event says.

So the charity sought to prove it.

The SPCA began by teaching the dogs outside the car with simple conditioning such as pressing a button or pulling a lever over and over again.

Then they sat in a contraption with a steering wheel and a car seat on wheels that the trainers could pull around a room while the dogs adjusted to having two paws on the wheel.

Before long the pups were in a MINI driving around outside.

[ Related: Dog becomes most qualified cop in Vaughn, New Mexico ]

The elaborate stunt seems to have had the desired effect, at least so far, with Monty and his pals smothered in media attention.

Next up, canine car service?