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Who is Chaser?

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Chaser the border collie is the world’s smartest dog. She has the largest vocabulary of any nonhuman animal and is known as “the dog who knows 1,000 words.” 

In 2004, Dr. John Pilley, emeritus professor of psychology at Wofford College, began working with Chaser and published the findings from their work in the Elsevier journals Behavioral Processes and Learning and Motivation. Chaser and Dr. Pilley explored the true potential of animal intelligence and the ways in which any dog lover can achieve similar results.

Their story has been featured in hundreds of publications internationally in over 72 languages such as TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Scientific American, and on television programs like 60 Minutes, Nova ScienceNOW, ABC World News, and The Today Show. Dr. Pilley also wrote a New York Times bestselling book about his beloved dog called, "Chaser: Unlocking the Genius Behind the Dog Who Knows A Thousand Words" – available in 5 different languages worldwide.

 Because of her extensive language learning, while Dr. Pilley formally stopped teaching her nouns at age 3, she continued to organically learn new words every day, simply by eavesdropping on conversations, the same way children learn. This is because learning builds on learning.

Her conceptual understanding that words have independent and understanding simple sentences meaning garnered her the title of

having the largest language learning of any animal in the world including primates, dolphins, and birds.


Chaser was not only the smartest dog in the world, she was a beloved family member and a real "dog" dog.


She was a witty, charming, and sparkling canine who brought joy to everyone who met her. 

Click here to see all the mind-blowing media surrounding Chaser and Professor Pilley.

Chaser, a purebred Border collie, was born on April 28, 2004, at Flint Hill Farms in Pauline, South Carolina. Eight weeks later, she became a member of the Pilley family and John’s research partner in exploring the boundaries of the canine brain. She and John Pilley officially retired from public performances and film shoots in early 2018. Chaser crossed the rainbow bridge onto her next adventure on July 23rd, 2019. Her transition was covered by hundreds of publications worldwide.

Some fun facts about Chaser:
*Chaser was a girl.
*She preferred people over other dogs.
*She knew how to clean up her toys but was very slow and sloppy with it unless she knew she got to play afterwards.
* She went to the gym at Wofford College every morning to work out with John Pilley until he was 89 years young.
* She got a seat on the airplane due to her celebrity status.  She was a very good traveler.
* She loved children because they were the best playmates.
* She liked to "go" but wouldn't walk out the door until we told her where we were going.
* She didn't like to "go" to the store, because she had to sit in the car.
* She was a con artist.  She could manipulate people to do her bidding on a daily basis.
* She herded the other Pilley family pets around the house. (Spirit was a female Husky, Billy was a male grey tabby & Mollie was a female calico)  They were not impressed by Chaser.  
* A blue racquetball was her favorite toy.  She had hundreds and most are still stuck under the furniture in the Pilley house.  
* She always had to have something in her mouth.  In the house, it was a toy.  Outside, it could be a stick, pinecone, or leaf.  In NYC, unfortunately, the only thing she could usually find was a cigarette butt, which we did not encourage. (but it was pretty funny) 
*  She knew the difference between her toys and other objects, so there was no danger of her playing with a toy (or shoe) that was not hers.   
*  She did not really bark until she was 6 years old.  Her bark was very low, deep & loud.  She didn't bark very frequently, so when she did, we listened.
*  Chaser always wore a purple collar.  It was John Pilley's favorite color.
*  Chaser did not like to pose for pictures.  She had her "frozen face" when the 
camera was on her, but the minute the camera went down, she engaged with enthusiasm.  In order to get a good shot, we tossed her ball in the background.
* Chaser's breeder is the legendary Wayne West, owner of Flint Hill Farms in Pauline, SC.  
* Chaser was a perpetual 3 year old toddler.
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