Next time you're in the car with your best friend — I mean Fido — keep an eye on what he's up to. A dog in northern Australia recently surprised his owner by stealing his motor home and driving it through the streets of Darwin.

The canine-piloted camper made it a couple-hundred yards, crossing a thoroughfare and jumping up on the sidewalk before a local man spotted the pooch — sitting in the driver's seat with its paws on the steering wheel — and chased it down. He caught up with it, jumped in and hit the brakes. It was just about to hit a parked car.

And it's not unlikely to happen again — somewhere else. Research from the University of Vienna found some dogs engage in "automatic imitation," mimicking their owners' gestures and hand movements. In this case the dog, a two-year-old German Koolie — a distant cousin of the Border Collie — named Woodley, copied his master by releasing the dashboard-mounted handbrake, putting paws to tiller and hitting the streets.

The camper's owner, Richard McCormack, says he had just parked the full-sized, double-decker model at a local repair shop, when the dog made his getaway. "He sits next to me when I'm driving and in the driver's seat when I'm not. The handbrake is on the dashboard and he's seen me release it many times," McCormack told The Northern Territory News.

(Photo: Patrina Malone)