We last left things off with Chaser when describing how border collies are seemingly bred to be constantly moving. Once you deprive this dog of physical activity, then they turn more neurotic than most canines.
When it comes to having that breed play fetch so as to constructively wear off that energy, it seems they all do enjoy it. While it makes them all think they’re working, but that’s where the similarities end. Chaser goes beyond, by seemingly developed extra dexterity when playing the game.
While many domesticated canines get inordinately fired up from getting attention through fetch, Chaser is seemingly mindful even of its emotions. Other dogs would start to hold on to the ball without giving it back, &/or forget what they were playing in the first place.
Chaser comes to within a couple of feet away, then uses the nozzle to push the ball in a precise & gentle way to the human playing fetch with. There’s no emotion seen to betray the dog into doing something different, but rather, the dog stays very focused on intently having the human continue.
This approach to playing as if it is work is used to explain how this particular animal has come the closest to any primate in understanding words. 1,200 of them to be exact. We’re not talking words here & there. The words Chaser has learned cover the whole gamut that could be used to make up sentences.
A lot of it has to do with the nature of Chaser’s owner. Because of the caretaker’s keen understanding of the breed, the teaching method was used which would adjust to the breed’s particularities. Most importantly, the words were successfully taught without resorting to the usual food reward mechanism.
Having earned a doctorate in psychology, as well as being a dog owner his whole life, Chaser’s caretaker is well-suited for Chaser’s success. With this combination, it was an easy decision to focus his academic research interest on canine intelligence.
What did he found out? Check out the next installment.