[Sponsored post for Chaser by John W. Pilley via BlogPaws but all opinions are my own.]
Chaser, Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley is the story of the author's border collie, Chaser. This inspiring book tells the story of Chaser’s remarkable learning abilities and was a joy to read.
Border collies are naturals at learning commands for herding, but Pilley believed that Chaser's learning could go beyond that. He gave each of her toys a unique name and Chaser learned the proper names for each of her over 1,000 toys, as well as different verbs. Pilley worked to show beyond a doubt that Chaser had developed a real association between a word and its meaning. He sought to show that dogs could understand context and use their imagination in reasoning tasks.
Though most of us don’t have the time to devote to training that Pilley did, his methods are common sense and can easily be transferred into teaching our own dogs simple words and commands. I love that the main focus of his teaching with Chaser was based on play. She loved learning because it was fun and it was a way to hang out with her humans and make them happy. Though my pugs are pretty stubborn, I’d love to try to use some of Pilley’s techniques with them.
It took years for Pilley to get his findings published in a journal. Once he was published though, the news about Chaser and her vocabulary went viral. I loved reading the part of the book where Chaser and Pilley did the media rounds and everyone was blown away with her abilities – I felt so excited for both of them that Chaser’s skills were being recognized.
In the beginning of the book, John noted that Chaser was not his experiment subject, but rather, she was his co-investigator and research assistant. I love that they mutually taught each other things. The best summation of this book is from Pilley himself in a video here – that the book "confirms what dog lovers have always known - dogs are smarter than we think." As a fellow dog lover, I couldn’t agree more and would recommend this inspiring read to any animal lover.