We're thrilled to participate in this pre-release review of an important book: Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows A Thousand Words, thanks to the good folks at BlogPaws, a social media company for pet enthusiasts, who brought us this campaign. Although this is a compensated post, the opinions that follow are 100% our own!
We call this book about one dog, "important" because it's really about all dogs and their owners: what the author, John Pilley, a psychologist and retired professor, has accomplished together with his Border Collie, Chaser, all dog owners can do to enrich the lives of their canine companions. O.K., we admit that not all dogs can learn well over 1000 words, because, let's face it, Border Collies are ranked as the smartest dog breed and not all of you humans have the time and patience to help your pooch learn both an extensive vocabulary and grammar. But each of us can spend a few minutes each day helping our dogs to learn through play, based on the techniques thoroughly described in this book.
The findings on animal cognition described and painstakingly documented in Chaser, thanks to Pilley and scientist and professor, Hilary Hinzmann, are also vitally important to the scientific community, and likely will help unlock the mysteries of how both human and other animals learn-did we say this is an important book? What seems to also be important to Pilley, though, is that: "It actually confirms what dog lovers have always known: dogs are smarter than we think."
But what everyone really wants to know is whether they'll enjoy reading Chaser and why. We think the answer is an enthusiastic "Yes"! Parental Unit was immediately drawn into the lives of Chaser, Professor Pilley and his family and friends with his warm and inviting writing style. His moving account of the loss of his beloved dog and teaching partner, Yasha, helped the reader understand that Pilley was in it for more than a research assistant for his animal cognition studies-all of his dogs are bonafide members of the family, and Pilley and his wife, Sally, are as fiercely protective of their dogs as they are their human family members. And the reader also gets to know the couple's daughters, their spouses and lots of friends, who all help "Pop- Pop" enable Chaser to learn, and to bring his incredible cognitive abilities to the world.
Parental Unit was particularly intrigued and uplifted by Pilley's account of the amount of time and work (including the mistakes and many revisions) it took to get his scientific documentation of Chaser's learning published in a prestigious journal, Behavioural Processes. Yes, hard work and perseverance pay off! Throughout the book, Pilley and Hinzmann also compared Chaser's language learning to that of toddlers, which helped the reader understand both the similarities and differences between human and other animal cognition, and demonstrated to laypeople (like Parental Unit) the need to share the results of Chaser's training and learning with our global community.
Check out Chaser's video for the book to get a flavor of what we're talking about.
And his descriptions of managing Chaser's success, from the time Chaser "went viral": "Dog-Gone Smart! The world's brainiest pooch", to his live guest appearance on the Today Show, are real page-turners-and had Parental Unit biting her nails and skimming ahead to make sure Chaser and Pilley were successful in all of their TV endeavors. Spoiler Alert: They were!
We loved that Pilley described the bit of extra time Chaser took on live TV to find one of her toys as "...the longest 16 seconds of my life." Don't we all want our kids, human or four-legged, to shine in the spotlight? Pilley and his family pour their hearts and souls into their life with Chaser and it shows in every word of this book. And we double dare anyone who reads Chaser to not come away with more respect for your dog, and to vow to spend a bit more time enriching his or her life with learning.
Chaser, is that you? Wanna play?
Don't forget to join us on Tuesday evening, October 22, 2013, between 8-10 pm EST for a BlogPaws Twitter chat (#blogpawschat) about Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows 1000 Words-there will be a giveaway of a few copies of this fabulous book, so don't miss it! And here's the most important part: The book goes on sale October 29, 2013!