Why the Chasers?
When we set out to choose a mascot to represent our diverse, vibrant students, we knew it had to be something really special to embody a spirit of tenacity. It didn’t take long for someone to suggest a dog known for its intelligence: the border collie.
As fate would have it, one of the most famous border collies in history is from Spartanburg. Known globally as “the smartest dog in the world,” Chaser the border collie forged a legacy that defied expectation and inspired millions. Chaser changed the way we understand canine intelligence and how they learn. She was a loyal companion to Dr. John Pilley, a Wofford College professor who was intrigued by canine learning capacity. His goal with Chaser was to explore all the canine brain is capable of comprehending, including human language. What started with “ﬁnd the blue ball” evolved into cognition research with Chaser recognizing more than 1,000 proper nouns, groups and categories over the course of her lifetime. The time that Dr. Pilley and Chaser spent together helped him realize that Chaser learned through the power of inference, much like humans – a remarkable feat.
Though Chaser and Dr. Pilley have since passed, their legacy lives on not only in Spartanburg, but throughout the world. Their work unlocked a new understanding of the power of language, connection and communication in lifelong learning. They truly did...
Dream it. Chase it. Live it.