Three shelter dogs in New Zealand have been taught to drive a car by a local SPCA, and one of them will be demonstrating his skills behind the wheel on live television next week.
The SPCA in Auckland had the dogs trained in how to shift gears, brake and steer — all part of a marketing campaign aimed at demonstrating the intelligence of rescued dogs.
The SPCA hired animal trainer Mark Vette to teach driving to the dogs — Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer whose owner was unable to control him; Ginny, a one-year-old whippet cross who was rescued from abusive owners; and Porter, a ten-month-old bearded collie cross who was found roaming the streets.
The dogs underwent five weeks of indoor training to encourage them to touch and move brakes, gear sticks and steering wheels, and received treats along the way, New Zealand’s TV3 reported. Once they mastered the basics, they were given a mock car to practice with.
“No animal has ever driven a car before so what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a straight and we’re going to head off, so we’ll start the car, get into position, brake on, gear in place, back onto the steering wheel, accelerator, take off and hoon along the straight and then stop.”
(Not speaking New Zealandese, we can’t tell you what “hoon along” means.)
“In this case we’ve got ten behaviors we’re all putting together, so each behavior is a trained behavior and then you put them into a sequence,” Vette said. “So 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.”
On Monday, Monty the dog’s driving abilities will be tested on the television show Campbell live, shown nationally in New Zealand. (You can learn more about the project on its Facebook page.)
“I think sometimes people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal, SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin to Newscom.AU. “This really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.”
(Photos: Auckland SPCA)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adoption, animals, auckland, bearded collie, brake, car, dog drives car, dogs, drive, driving, gear, giant, ginny, learn, mark vetter, mix, monty, mutts, new zealand, pets, porter, rescue, schnauzer, shelter, shift, spca, stray, taught, trainer, whippet
Judy Blackington, co-owner of Discount Pets in Salem, decided to stop selling dogs at the end of February.
“Instead of buying our puppies off breeders, we decided to take puppies that are about to be killed,” she said. “We’ve saved seven puppies this week and get about 35 a month.”
According to Life With Dogs, the store has formed a partnership with Brookside Husky and Lab Rescue in Alton, Maine.
“We’ve never worked with a pet store like this,” said the rescue’s director, Nicky Bowman. “I think more pet stores ought to do this. I see every day the gruesome reality of puppy mills. We’re making a point to people that breeding really needs to stop because overpopulation is a problem.”
Shop owner Blackington says the change has been good for her conscience — and great for business.
“The breeder prices have gone up lately and the puppies haven’t been very healthy,” she said. “The customers don’t like paying $900 for a puppy and then have to spend more on the vet. These dogs are healthier than the ones we’ve gotten from breeders. I think it’s going to be better for the business, and people love it.”
Elizabeth Dobbins, director of the Salem Animal Rescue League, said other pet store owners should take note.
“Sadly, there is no shortage of adoptable pets in this country. So there’s room for plenty of us. Maybe that’s a trend of the future, that pet stores would look to go out and rescue animals instead of buying from breeders.”
Potential owners are required to submit an application and submit to a home visit, which Blackington says help ensures a better connection between dog and family.
“We’ve had more people come in than ever,” she said. “They love that we’re an adoption center now and not a puppy store.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptable, adoptions, Alton, animals, breeders, Brookside Husky and Lab Rescue, business, change, discount pets, dogs, health, homeless, judy blackington, maine, new hampshire, nicky bowman, over-population, pet sales, pet store, pets, puppies, puppy mills, rescues, salem, sales, shelters, shift
The first comes from Washington, D.C., where a woman left her Yorkshire terrier in her car Saturday while she popped into a laundromat. When she returned, her car window was smashed and her beloved William was gone.
“He’s so much a part of my family. Everyone that knows him loves him. I know he’s scared right now. I can’t sleep because I know he’s scared, and he doesn’t know these people. He’s not gonna eat. They just need to get him back,” Denise Conner-Battle told ABC 7 News.
The second comes from Middleton, Wisconsin, where a dog left in a car while his owner stopped for lunch Thursday somehow managed to shift the car from park to neutral.
Police said the car rolled out of its parking spot and into a pickup truck across the lot. Damage to both vehicles was estimated in the thousands of dollars, according to an Associated Press report. The dog was fine.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, automobile, car, dog, dogs, gears, leave, left, middleton, neutral, news, ohmidog!, parked, pet, pets, safety, shift, stolen, theft, unattended, washington, william, wisconsin, yorkshire
A PetSmart in New Jersey may be dog-friendly, but its recent firing of a staff member who brought his dog to work is making it look something less than employee-friendly.
Eric Favetta was fired from his job at the PetSmart in Secaucus for bringing his dog into the closed store while working a last-minute overnight shift.
Favetta, 31, a PetSmart employee since July 2008, placed his dog Gizmo in the store’s empty day care facility while he spruced up the place for a special showing to potential business partners.
“I have always been the type of employee to go the extra mile,” Favetta told the Newark Star-Ledger’s “Bamboozled” column.
The store, which encourages its customers to bring pets inside, labeled his deed “theft of services,” and fired him.
Favetta served nearly seven years as a dog handler for various military units in Afghanistan and Bahrain. He became operations manager at the PetSmart in Wayne and, based on his good record, was sent to Secaucus.
At 5 p.m. on Dec. 15, Favetta was asked to work a special overnight shift to prepare the store for a viewing by representatives for Martha Stewart’s company, which was considering adding its product lines to PetSmart.
“I brought my dog with me because I knew if I didn’t, he would have been home alone all day and all night until I returned home at 6 a.m. the next day,” Favetta said. Gizmo, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, spent the night in the empty store’s doggie day care facility as Favetta toiled.
Two weeks later, he was called on the carpet and fired.
PetSmart spokeswoman Jessica White explained the situation this way:
“In our eyes, our services business is huge, with our grooming and training and care. Those are viewed as sale items the same way items on the shelf are,” she said. “To use the facilities and not pay for it — it falls under the same lines.”
A few days later, PetSmart reconsidered and offered him another job. But Favetta has since moved on. He’s now working as a dog handler for a company that uses animals to search for hazards.
(Photo: MITSU YASUKAWA/Newark Star-Ledger)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bamboozled, belgian malinois, company, day care, dog, dog friendly, dogs, employee, eric favetta, fired, firing, gizmo, manager, new jersey, newark star-ledger, operations, overnight, overtime, pets, petsmart, secaucus, shift, terminated, termination, theft of services
The Christian Science Monitor recently took a look — a far deeper one than newspapers usually do — at the rising status of dogs in America, and concluded that there’s more behind the trend than a handful of wacky, dog-coddling pet owners.
It’s actually a huge story — one that’s been roundly missed because it has been a gradual shift, a slow evolution, and because the news media tend to be unable to look at dogs as serious subject matter. Instead it gives any pet story the cutesy pie treatment, complete with overused puns and chuckling anchorpeople.
The Christian Science Monitor story, by Stephanie Hanes, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, avoids that trap, and makes an effort to look at the reasons behind the dog’s rise from backyard denizen to full-fledged family member. It opens at Wagtime, the D.C. doggie day care center where around 60 canines show up each day, and whose owner is so busy she’s thinking about starting a waiting list for the full-time, $900-a-month slots.
“For many in the dog world, Schreiber explains, pet day care is no more of a luxury than preschool. Buying high-end dog food feels no more frivolous than serving organic fruits and vegetables; Prozac for the pup no more outrageous than Ritalin for the teenager.”
Wagtime, and all the other lengths Americans are going to for their pets, represent “a widespread cultural trend, a phenomenon that could easily be called America’s pet revolution,” the article says.
The revolution is bolstered by the country’s exploding pet population, which has increased threefold since the 1960s, according to some estimates, and pet industry sales that have grown to $46 billion this year from $17 billion in 1994, according to the American Pet Products Association.
But, the story adds, “… it is the dog that has nuzzled his way to the forefront of our pet revolution. Love him or hate him, Fido is changing American society – in ways municipal and medical, emotional and economic, social and scientific – as never before.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, christian science monitor, culture, day care, dogs, evolution, pets, revolution, role, serpell, shift, society, status, trend, university of pennsylvania