Chaser isn’t just a 9-year-old border collie with her breed’s boundless energy, intense focus and love of herding virtually anything. She’s a grammar hound.
In experiments directed by her owner, psychologist John Pilley of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., Chaser demonstrated her grasp of the basic elements of grammar by responding correctly to commands such as “to ball take Frisbee” and its reverse, “to Frisbee take ball.” The dog had previous, extensive training to recognize classes of words including nouns, verbs and prepositions.
“Chaser intuitively discovered how to comprehend sentences based on lots of background learning about different types of words,” Pilley says. He reports the results May 13 in Learning and Motivation.