Chaser Dies at 15: Smartest Dog in the World

“Dogs are people too, ya know!”

Radar O’Reilly

M*A*S*H 4077

Chaser understood 1,022 nouns!

source: The Columbus Dispatch

SPARTANBURG, S.C. —Many owners struggle to teach their dogs to sit, fetch or bark on command, but John W. Pilley, a professor emeritus of psychology at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., taught his border collie to understand more than 1,000 nouns, a feat that earned them both worldwide recognition.

In 2004, Pilley started an experiment after reading about a dog that was taught to recognize more than 200 items.

Pilley’s wife, Sally, had bought him a black-and-white border collie for his birthday. They named the puppy Chaser.

For three years, Pilley trained Chaser four to five hours a day: He showed her an object, said its name up to 40 times, then hid it and asked her to find it. He used 800 cloth animal toys, 116 balls, 26 Frisbees and an assortment of plastic items to ultimately teach Chaser 1,022 nouns.

Chaser died this past week at age 15. She had been living with Pilley’s wife and their daughter Robin in Spartanburg. Pilley died last year at 89.

″What we would really like people to understand about Chaser is that she is not unique………….It’s the way she was taught that is unique. We believe that my father tapped into something that was very simple: He taught Chaser a concept which he believed worked infinitely greater than learning a hundred behaviors………..She learned the theory of one to many and many to one, which is learning one object could have many names and many names can apply to one object or one person.”

Deb Pilley Bianchi

Chaser the Border Collie’s home page

Read more about Chaser here.

Calamity Jane