Who is Chaser?
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.” The best part – she’s a Spartanburg native!
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.
Sadly, Dr. Pilley passed away in 2018. Today, Chaser continues to live with the Pilley women, who have loved and worked with Chaser for her entire life. Because of her extensive language learning, while Dr. Pilley formally stopped teaching her nouns at age 3, she continued to organically learn new words everyday, simply by eavesdropping on conversations, the same way children learn. Now as a senior dog, as her hearing has diminished she has flawlessly grasped the concept of sign language. This is because learning builds on learning. Read more about Chaser at chaserthebordercollie.com.
The Chaser Statue
A bronze statue of Chaser has been commissioned and will be located outside the Children’s Museum of the Upstate - Spartanburg on Magnolia Street. The statue is expected to be complete in 2020.
In addition to honoring Chaser and Dr. Pilley, this statue is a visual reminder of Chaser’s love of play and how her unique source of learning has proved to be groundbreaking and inspiring – something we want to share with our community. Through this project, we hope to show how Dr. Pilley’s teaching method with Chaser can not only deepen our relationship with dogs, but can also translate into human education.
Teach children at an early age through love of play
Reinforce Dr. Pilley’s motto “Never stop learning”
Evoke a curiosity that leads to knowledge
Bond between human and animal
Humanity and the potential of animals
Teach proper treatment of animals, the importance of spay/neuter, and the root causes of animal homelessness
Your generous support of the Chaser statue will positively impact learning in Spartanburg County for generations to come.
about the artist
Betsy Scott of Cloudland, Georgia on Lookout Mountain, has been commissioned to create the Chaser statue. Scott has earned recognition as one of America’s most respected wildlife sculptors and is the co-creator of the Wofford College Terrier, a 1,000-pound statue located at the entrance of the Campus Life Building. Learn more about Betsy’s work at wildlifebronzellc.com.