Trainers Teach Dogs How to Drive

January 16, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. stray (adj.) 
[strey]– lost or homeless
Example The stray dog wandered around the street to find food.

2. modify (v.) [mod-uh-fahy]– to change
Example The company modified its products to fit a specific type of consumer.

3. carsick (adj.) [kahr-sik]– feeling sick when riding a moving car
Example: Before driving, the man took a medicine to avoid being carsick.

4. fall behind (phrasal v.) [fawl] [bih-hahynd]– to have slow progress when training or doing an activity.
Example: To avoid falling behind the lessons, the trainee always attends trainings.

5. inferior (adj.) [in-feer-ee-er]– lower than somebody else
Example: Animals are considered inferior to man because of their inability to know right from wrong.

Read the text below.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in New Zealand has taught three dogs to drive a car. Driving dogs are part of a campaign to show that stray animals are smart and that people should consider adopting them.

The three dogs used in the campaign were all rescued by the SPCA. “Monty,” an 18-month-old giant Schnauzer, was abandoned by his family for having behavioral problems. “Porter,” a 10-month-old mixed breed, was found living on the streets. “Ginny,” a one-year-old mixed breed, was found locked in a bathroom and dying from hunger.

With the help of Mark Vette, an animal psychologist and trainer, and his team, the dogs have learned how to drive a BMW Mini for up to 100 meters.

The car was modified by Ikon Engineering, a company specializing in cars for disabled drivers. Ikon engineers made changes in the car so the dogs’ legs could reach the brake pedals.

The trainers had some problems at first. Two dogs were carsick and Ginny‘s training fell behind because of an illness. The animals also had to be taught movements not natural to them, such as turning the wheel of a car.  However, the dogs’ driving training was eventually a success.

The SPCA hopes the campaign would encourage people to adopt the three driving dogs as well as other rescued animals.

“Driving dogs” was the idea of advertising agency Draft FCB. The agency said it wanted to change New Zealanders’ opinion that stray and mixed type dogs are inferior to expensive, purebred animals.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think a “driving dogs” campaign will encourage people to adopt a dog? Why or why not?
·         Should people adopt a pet from an animal rescue group instead of buying one from a pet shop? What makes you say so?

Discussion B

·         How can we prevent the increase of unwanted animals in our community?
·         How can people be encouraged to take good care of animals?


January 16, 2013