Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who's a VERY clever doggy! Prepare to be bow-wowed as we put Chaser, the world's brainiest dog, to the test


Dog with hundreds of toys: Chaser knows more than 1,000 nouns and verbs which he has learned over the past three years

Most dogs have a much-chewed, ¬favourite old toy: it may once have had a squeak, is guarded with a playful growl and enjoys pride of place alongside its devoted doggy owner in the sleeping basket.

What most dogs don’t have, however, is 1,000 favourite toys, all identified by name and taking up so much room that they have to be kept in 30 massive tubs in the backyard.

But then Chaser, a six-year-old border collie, is no ordinary dog.

Whisper it quietly — and around Chaser you do have to be careful about what you say — but Chaser might just be the cleverest dog in the world. Which is why I’ve flown all the way from snow-bound New York to see her.

Showtime: Owner John Pilley has taught Chaser how to categorise items according to function and shape, something children learn to do around the age of three

First impressions, however, are reassuringly familiar. She may have become world-famous as the dog who knows more than 1,000 nouns and verbs, but Chaser arrives in a veritable doggy whirlwind, paws clattering on the wooden floor, her tail wagging so hard that half her body seems to be joining in.

I’m in Chaser’s comfortable log cabin-style home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and delighted to say she’s clearly pleased to see me. ‘Ooh, a new playmate; ooh, a new playmate,’ she seems to be saying, as she rushes to and fro bringing me first her favourite tennis ball and then a blue ball she’s particularly fond of.

Professor Alliston Reid and Dr Pilley have worked intensively with six-year-old Chaser for three years to see how large a vocabulary she could command

I rapidly get the impression that the cleverest dog in the world would like me to do what every dog in the world wants us humans to do: throw their ball. So I do, and an instant friendship is forged. ‘Careful,’ says her owner, John Pilley, with a grin, ‘she’ll drive you crazy if you keep picking them up and throwing them for her.’

My new black and white friend looks at me with already devoted eyes. ‘Ignore him,’ they seem to be saying; ‘throw the ball, throw the ball’. So I do once more and then it’s time to discover, not how like other dogs Chaser is, but how extraordinarily different she is.

Chaser checks out the items laid out for her by her owner before her 'vocabulary' is tested

source: dailymail

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