About the Author
JOHN W. PILLEY is an emeritus professor of psychology at Wofford College. He has been working with Chaser since 2004 and has published the findings from their work in the journal Behavioural Processes.
Hilary Hinzmann is a freelance editor and writer based in New York City.
Bottom Line: Dogs are much smarter than they are given credit. John Pilley explains exactly how quickly they learn and given the chance can communicate with us. Pilley explains how he used his dogs as research subjects in his lab in his job as a psychology professor. His students observed them and dissected their abilities. After his last dog dies, his wife insists he is getting a new puppy for Christmas and they both agree that a local breeder of Border Collies is their best choice. With infinite patience and his training as a scientist, he teaches his new pup to relate objects to words.
Border Collies are working dogs and love routines, without structure in their lives, they can be almost destructive. Their natural curiosity and ability to be trained is both a gift and a curse. I had an Australian Shepherd with a similar personality and if we didn't do our routine each day, he was a very unhappy dog. I had taught my dog probably 100 words and he could easily follow commands to retrieve certain objects. I never imagined that a dog could place names to over a thousand objects.
There is a science background to this book, so as well as being a memoir, it also has some wonderful information based on fact to go along with it. Chaser was featured on a NOVA program about her unique abilities. This is one fascinating look at how you can train a dog to learn more than you thought possible with a little extra time and energy. Dog and memoir fans are going to adore this story.
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