Dog Drives Owner’s Car in West Virginia

October 2, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

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

1. minimal /ˈmɪn ə məl/ (adj.) – very little
Example: There was minimal damage to the car after the crash.

2. deliberately /dɪˈlɪb ər ɪt lɪ/ (adv.) – to do something intentionally
Example: She deliberately left the engine running.

3. try one’s hand at /traɪ wʌns hænd æt/ [trahy wuhn’s hand at] (idiom) – to try to do something
Example: I tried my hand at teaching my dog new tricks, but I gave up because it was tiring.

4. debunk /dɪˈbʌŋk/ (v.) – to prove wrong
Example: The group debunked the idea that it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.

5. makeshift /ˈmeɪkˌʃɪft/ (adj.) – describing something to be used temporarily
Example: The makeshift car was made out of a wooden cart.


Read the text below.
A dog crashed its owner’s car into the wall of a Walmart store in West Virginia.

A Walmart employee reported seeing the dog driver while she was walking outside the store. The car crashed into the store’s wall but only caused minimal damage. In addition to the dog driver, a second dog was also in the car and was able to roll down the window on the passenger’s side and jump out of the car after the crash.

Walmart employees called the attention of the car owner, an elderly woman who was shopping in the store. She explained that she deliberately left the engine running because it was a hot day and she wanted her dogs to stay cool. Since the car had a simple gear changer, one of the dogs easily shifted the car’s gear from “park” into “drive.”

While the incident at Walmart was purely accidental, a group in New Zealand tried their hand at teaching dogs to drive for a specific purpose.

Automobile brand MINI, in partnership with animal protection group SPCA Auckland, and advertising agency DraftFCB Auckland, created an advertising campaign featuring dog drivers. They wanted to promote the adoption of rescued dogs so they paired up with animal talent and training agency Animals on Q to debunk the idea that training old dogs is hard. The campaign aimed to encourage people to adopt dogs from SPCA, with their main point being that old dogs can still be taught new tricks.

Three rescued dogs, Monty, Porter, and Ginny, were trained to drive for eight weeks. In the early weeks of training, the dogs started with a makeshift car made out of a wooden cart with a steering wheel that was pulled by their trainers. Since the initial training was successful, the dogs were given the chance to drive a modified MINI car in the latter period of training.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you had a dog, would you teach it to drive? Why or why not?
·         Do you know of other dangerous incidents that were caused by unattended pets?

Discussion B

·         If you had a dog, what unusual tricks would you teach it?
·         How are dogs helpful in your country?

October 2, 2016