In recent years, both Subaru and Honda have marketed special versions of their vehicles to pet owners, including "pet-friendly" accessories to make riding in cars safer for non-human species.
Now, Subaru is taking the next step by offering driving lessons to dogs and other pets. The company plans a nationwide program of free clinics in which pets and their companion humans can brush up on behind-the-wheel skills.
The clinics, said Subaru spokeshuman Kay Ninghne, were inspired by the successful Subaru TV ad campaign with the tagline "Dog Tested, Dog Approved," taking its partnership with the ASPCA to a new level.
The first clinic will open early this summer and, said Subaru, if the program proves successful, more advanced courses are planned for pets who enjoy all-wheel-drive performance.
Among the skills to be promoted are left-paw braking. "We are confident that we can bring pet driving to a new level," said program spokeshuman April Fuehl.
Olive and Zelda, the two stars of the famous TV ad campaign, will be co-instructors at the first clinic. Neither dog was available for comment; a spokesperson said both were feeling a little husky.
Several states still prohibit non-primate species from driving motor vehicles. A number of grass-roots efforts have sprung up among pet owners and others to remove what they view as outdated and discriminatory legislative bans.