Those of us who have had and loved dogs have known how smart they are. We don’t really question that our dogs understand what we say. We know that eventually we have to spell words like c-o-o-k-i-e and w-a-l-k. And after awhile only the first couple of letters of the word will elicit a response. That’s the way we pet owners discuss it, anecdotally. But scientists demand far more proof that the dog actually knows and understands the words that are spoken. Enter John W. Pilley, psychology Professor Emeritus at Wofford College and his Border Collie, Chaser, whose experience is shared in Chaser Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann.
Chaser entered Pilley’s life in 2004 when his wife decided her husband needed a puppy for Christmas. Chaser was acquired from a dedicated breeder whose dogs are known for their herding skills. From the day Chaser came home with Pilley and his wife, Pilley began talking to her, somewhat in the way a parent would talk to a small child, which is how children learn languages.
While teaching Chaser the basics of obedience, using positive reinforcement, all of Chaser’s learning has been the result of positive reinforcement using play. Pilley began teaching her the names of her toys. Adding to them, and building problem-solving situations into each new level. She has learned the names of over one thousand objects. Yes, you read that correctly.
A study of another Border Collie, Rico, in Germany was not as comprehensive. Rico only knew about a hundred words and the scientists picked apart the study. Pilley, while allowing Chaser to be a wonderful, happy companion, also used games to teach Chaser and to build a scientific study that ultimately could no longer be challenged. How he accomplished this is carefully laid out in the book. As a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, I was intrigued but the nice thing is that this is written in such easy style that any pet owner can read it, enjoy it, and relate to Prof. Pilley and Chaser. And they can try the same things with their own dog.
Chaser has been seen on television, has been the topic of news reports, but here you get to meet the dog up-close and personal, to see the love and the bond between dog and owner that will be so familiar to dog owners.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I think you’ll agree. I highly recommend it. It will be available on October 29th.
See the Book Trailer here: http://bit.ly/13l4Had
See more about Chaser and links to buy the book here: http://www.chaserthebordercollie.com
You can find Chaser on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chaser-the-Border-Collie/11260276882
And you can follow Chaser on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChasertheBC
You are invited to participate in a special #BlogPawsChat on Twitter where you’ll have a chance to win a copy of the book. I hope you’ll join us there on October 22 at 8PM ET.
NOTE: This is a sponsored post for CHASER in cooperation with BlogPaws (http://network.blogpaws.com/) however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.