Dr. Hill and students
Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl!

New York Times
Published: January 17, 2011

Photo: Cass Sapir/Nova Science Now
A NEW TRICK John W. Pilley, right, taught Chaser after reading about a dog whose owners taught him to recognize and fetch 200 items.

Chaser NOVAChaser, a border collie who lives in Spartanburg, S.C., has the largest vocabulary of any known dog. She knows 1,022 proper nouns, a record that displays unexpected depths of the canine mind and may help explain how children acquire language.

Chaser belongs to John W. Pilley, a psychologist who taught for 30 years at Wofford College, a liberal arts institution in Spartanburg. In 2004, after he had retired, he read a report in Science about Rico, a border collie whose German owners had taught him to recognize 200 items, mostly toys and balls. Dr. Pilley decided to repeat the experiment using a technique he had developed for teaching dogs, and he describes his findings in the current issue of the journal Behavioural Processes.

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