Chaser, the Border Collie, was dubbed as the smartest dog in the world, having trained to recognize 1,022 nouns. She was the beloved dog of Dr. John W. Pilley, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Wofford College and Sally Pilley.
When Chaser came into the lives of Pilley’s family, the retired psychologist decided to train the border collie to prove that dogs are not only smarter than we think, but capable of so much more.
Dr. Pilley trained the dog for three years, between four to five hours a day. He showed her an object, said its name around 40 times, hid it, and asked Chaser to find it. This incredible technique helped the dog learn 1,022 pronouns, with the aid of 800 cloth animal toys, 116 balls, 26 Frisbees, and several plastic objects.
According to Pilley, “play is an innate instinct for the dog and the expression of this behavior brings infinite joy to Chaser. Play not only strengthens our bond but it also builds her confidence; Chaser is a prime example, that when learning is fun, the flood gates open.”
Chaser was featured on countless national and international TV shows, capturing the hearts of dog lovers worldwide with her signature inquisitive tilt of the head.
Sadly, the beloved dog passed away on July 23, 2019. “Chaser got her wings and joined my father John Pilley. She was doing well, then a couple of weeks ago went downhill very quickly. She passed in the Pilley family home without pain, of natural causes,” the family wrote on Instagram.
The Pilley family is actively continuing Chaser’s legacy with her second book as well as a series of children’s books. “The memory of Chaser and Pilley’s accomplishments are currently being immortalized in downtown Spartanburg, SC her hometown, spearheaded by The Hub City Animal Project, with the installation of a bronze of Chaser outside the Children’s Museum in spring of 2020. Pilley’s footprints taken from a mold of his shoes, will be bronzed beside her,” according to the website.