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Video: Meet Chaser, the canine Einstein!

  1. Transcript of: Meet Chaser, the canine Einstein!

    MATT LAUER, co-host: So you think your dog is smart because he can sit, stay or fetch ? Well, meet Chaser, a female border collie with the largest vocabulary of any known dog, an astonishing 1,022 nouns. She's here along with her owner and trainer, John Pilley , and Alliston Reid , who co-authored a study on Chaser. Gentlemen , good morning. Chaser, nice to see you.

    Mr. ALLISTON REID: Good morning.

    Mr. JOHN PILLEY: Thank you.

    LAUER: This is serious stuff, this isn't dog tricks we're talking about here. What did you set out to prove with Chaser?

    Mr. PILLEY: Well, we think it's science. And our effort, our primary goal is to try to teach her dog language . We don't call it human, she'll never get that close, but we're trying to teach her words and learn how to teach her words.

    LAUER: So learn nouns and verbs, actions, so you can actually give Chaser two different commands and she can operate under both?

    Mr. PILLEY: Correct.

    LAUER: OK. And is Chaser a one in a million dog, or do you think this is something that any dog could learn?

    Mr. REID: I think any border collie could learn all this. The real issue is how much training John Pilley has put into this dog, four or five hours per day for about three years.

    LAUER: And you basically had to take that training and turn it into scientific fact...

    Mr. REID: Into science, right.

    LAUER: ...which is a hard thing to do.

    Mr. REID: We needed to test Chaser's vocabulary and be able to make statements about what Chaser really understood about each of these words.

    LAUER: We've got 1,022 nouns that Chaser understands, we brought 25 items with us, or you have, here to the studio. Now I understand if I get down over there and kneel next to Chaser I can actually give her some commands. She doesn't know what items I'm going to ask her to fetch , right?

    Mr. PILLEY: Correct.

    LAUER: So I'm going to try this because I know the names of the things that I want her to fetch . So Chaser, fetch tennis. Fetch tennis. Chaser, fetch tennis. Chaser, fetch tennis. Put it in the tub.

    Mr. PILLEY: Good dog.

    LAUER: In the tub, in the tub.

    Mr. PILLEY: Let's bring it over to you.

    LAUER: Again, she's using my -- OK, she's using my voice, which she's really never heard before. Good girl. In the tub. In tub. Good girl. All right. Chaser, fetch peppermint. That's exactly what the peppermint is, the peppermint little -- in tub. Chaser, fetch SpongeBob . Fetch SpongeBob .

    Mr. PILLEY: SpongeBob 's not out there.

    LAUER: No, here it is right here.

    Mr. PILLEY: Oh. Oh, there it is.

    LAUER: Here is SpongeBob right there.

    Mr. PILLEY: She sees better than I do.

    LAUER: In tub.

    Mr. PILLEY: OK.

    LAUER: In tub. Chaser, in tub. This is incredible.

    Mr. PILLEY: Good dog. Good Chaser.

    LAUER: What else do you want to learn from Chaser, what else can you accomplish with her?

    Mr. PILLEY: Speak, Alliston.

    Mr. REID: Well -- ruff, ruff.

    LAUER: You're good at that, too.

    Mr. REID: I would -- I would like -- we're very interested in syntax. For example, do the order of the words matter?

    LAUER: And do you think -- can we learn something real quickly about human learning from this?

    Mr. REID: Well, it's hard to know whether we can apply it to humans or not. We're trying to understand what dogs understand when we're talking to them and how extensive their vocabularies can become if they're given a great deal of training.

Photos: Animal Tracks: Jan. 30 - Feb. 6

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  1. Beach workout

    Trainers exercise their thoroughbred point-to-point horses along the White Rocks beach near the town of Portrush, on the North Antrim Coast, in Northern Ireland. (Cathal McNaughton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Swan (-filled) lake

    Swans swim in Lake Constance, Switzerland. (Ennio Leanza / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sitting tight

    A dog named Muldoon waits in the snow for its owner, who stopped for coffee in Barre, Vt. (Toby Talbot / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Jammin' jellyfish

    Hydrozoan jellyfishes swim at Kamogawa Sea World in Kamogawa, Japan. (Itsuo Inouye / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Floating toad

    A toad sits on a child's toy amidst flood waters after Cyclone Yasi passed, in the northern Australian town of Cowley Beach. (Tim Wimborne / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Dinner's ready

    King penguins enjoy feeding time at Melbourne Aquarium in Melbourne, Australia. (Rungroj Yongrit / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Butterflies bonding

    Hundreds of Monarch butterflies line a tree in the Pedro Herrada butterfly sanctuary, on a mountain in the Mexican state of Michoacan. (Felipe Courzo / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Catch me if you can

    A worker catches an ostrich at a farm in the village of Kozishche, Belarus. (Viktor Drachev / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Hanging out

    A spiderling crawls on the belly of a female golden silk spider as it hangs on a mango tree in Tangerang, in Indonesia's Banten province. (Beawiharta / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Surveillance dog

    A dog watches protestors from a window during an anti-government rally in Belgrade, Serbia. (Marko Djurica / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Out for a stroll

    A pair of coyotes walk through a field in Hopkinsville, Ky. (Danny Vowell / Kentucky New Era via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Sleepy time

    An Abyssinian Colobus baby yawns at the Nogeyama Zoological Gardens in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Japan. (Itsuo Inouye / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Sharing the snow

    Canada geese and horses shared a snowy field on the Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, Ky. (Charles Bertram / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Happy hour

    Tasik, a male pigtail macaque, sips red wine from a bottle at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Zoo keepers believe that adding red wine, onion and garlic into the monkeys' diet will reduce risk of H1N1 infection from visitors. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Flight time

    A seagull flies at Nal Sarovar, a wetland bird sanctuary, near Ahmadabad, India. (Ajit Solanki / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Taking a breather

    Raul Gonzalez, middle, and George Guillen rest their horses in a pasture prior to a community parade in Laveen, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Blow by blow

    A beluga whale blows out a ring of air at Kamogawa Sea World in Kamogawa, east of Tokyo. (Itsuo Inouye / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. What a prize

    Rabbits and birds are offered as prizes in a hoop game at the Lianhuaci temple fair on the third day of the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit in Beijing, China. (Ng Han Guan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Triple threat

    A heard of guanacos stand along the trail to the Rio Ewan outside Rio Grande, Argentina. (Jim Urquhart / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Phil it up

    Groundhog handler Ben Hughes watches Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring during the 125th annual Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pa. (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Bird breath

    A starling's breath is formed on a window at the Bremerton Transportation Center in Bremerton, Wash. (Larry Steagall / Kitsap Sun via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Three little pigs

    Pigs enjoy the warming sun in Meggen, Switzerland, (Sigi Tischler / Keystone via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Breakfast of champions

    A robin eats berries in a tree early on a cold morning in Trenton, N.J. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Dog in flight

    A German shepherd police dog jumps from an obstacle during trials at the regional police cynologist centre on the suburbs of Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Snuggle bunnies

    Rabbits are offered for sale at Glodok market in Jakarta's Chinatown, as part of Lunar New Year festivities. (Romeo Gacad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Ready for a snooze

    A cat yawns while sitting in the window sill of a farm house in Jamel, north eastern Germany. (Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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