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Chaser the smartest dog in the world

photo by Sebastian Micke for Paris Match

Chaser is Pilley Bianchi's younger sister and she has the largest language learning of any animal in the world. Chaser is recognized internationally as the scientifically most important dog in over a century. Prof. John Pilley's ground breaking research with Chaser has opened the door to a new understanding of animal intelligence with Chaser's achievements in deductive reason and complex problem solving.


Chaser was indeed extraordinarily clever, but the true genius was the man behind the dog.


In June 2006, my John and Sally Pilley brought home an eight-week-old, adorable, Border Collie puppy to become a new family member. She was also destined to become my John Pilley's new research partner. He had the goal of teaching her human language - one which had sadly eluded him in his previous 25 years of working with dogs in his Wofford College classroom. He confessed that while the dogs themselves were brilliant, he was not; but this time was different. At 76 years of age, he knew where he went wrong, and boy – he was right.


Six years later, this charismatic and charming canine and octogenarian duo took the world by storm when their work was formally published. As a retired professor Emeritus of Psychology, John Pilley taught Chaser the names of over 1022 objects—which were her toys. She also learned hundreds of additional names including people and locations as well as common nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and simple syntax in sentences, officially having the largest formally tested language learning of any animal in the world, including primates, birds, and dolphins. Since then, she has been dubbed “the smartest dog in the world,” demonstrating on the world stage that dogs are not only smarter than they have been given credit for, but capable of so much more.


Together, they cracked the code in teaching human language to dogs.


The methodology was play.


The genius of Chaser was her love of play, love of herding and her ability to communicate with humans. The genius of my John Pilley was his love of nature, his love of teaching teach and his ability to inspire his herd. Ok, not an actual herd, they were his students - but more importantly, was his belief that Chaser was smart but not smarter than other dogs. John Pilley showed the world that it is the way you teach dogs, that scratches their itch to learn. (No fleas here.) 

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