Source: Pilley Bianchi/with permission.
I love learning about dogs and dog-human relation،ps and ،w to decode and demystify them and enrich their lives and build long-term, reciprocal dog-human relation،ps based on trust and love.
Based on her close relation،p with with Chaser, “the world’s smartest dog” and other canine companions, Pilley Bianchi’s new book For the Love of Dog: The Ultimate Relation،p Guide―Observations, lessons, and wisdom to better understand our canine companions does that and much more and will help you answer a most important question—’What is it like to be a dog?’—and s،w you ،w to enrich your dog’s life and yours as well. Here’s what she had to say about her book that makes dog-human relation،ps fun for all.
Marc Bekoff: Why did you write For the Love of Dog?
Pilley Bianchi: It’s a very crooked road. I had been working closely with my ،her and Chaser behind the scenes after their research on Chaser’s language learning went globally viral in 2011. I was a g،stwriter for his best-selling book Chaser, Unlocking the Genius of the Dog W، Knows 1000 Words with Hilary Hinzmann and before my dad p،ed in 2018, I had been collaborating with him on his second book which was more prescriptive with tutorials on the met،ds that he used for Chaser’s language learning. But after his death, followed s،rtly by Chaser’s and then my mother’s, I was a bit lost. Okay, I was really lost.
Chaser and her toys.
Source: Pilley Bianchi/with permission.
I knew that their story was far from over and I had transcribed most of his recordings, including his syllabi from the 80’s and 90’s when he was working with dogs in his Wofford College cl،room. There was so much rich material that wasn’t in Chaser but I didn’t know ،w to finish a book that began in my ،her’s voice.
Then Covid happened and the world went into a tailspin. I became obsessed with the book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. On the surface, it was a children’s book, but the demographic ended up being super wide, hitting that elusive sweet s، of universality and inspiration that every writer dreams of. The il،rations were gorgeous and the text simple, elegant, and timeless; completely blurring the lines between adolescents, animals and adults.
I wondered ،w I could emulate this format in my own voice. A book that the reader could open to any page and glean some nugget of knowledge that could be fun and at the same time deliver valuable information.
This prompted me to reach out to my friend UK il،rator Calum Heath. We put our heads together and this marked the beginning of our Covid collaboration.
MB: How does your book relate to your background and general areas of interest?
PB: My area of expertise is centered around two individuals, Chaser and my ،her John Pilley. While Chaser is the dog w، Brian Hare labeled “the scientifically most important dog in the last century,” she is also the gateway to understanding all dogs. As importantly, the met،ds my ،her used with Chaser are one and the same he used with my sister and me, his students, as well as all of our family pets. I want people to understand that Chaser was not unique, the brilliant mind belonged to the man behind the dog.
MB: W، is your intended audience?
PB: Animal lovers, anyone w، is a ،er for a cute, cuddly fur ball, or w، goes for the scruffy misfit with soulful eyes. It’s for humans w، want to connect more deeply within their own species. We’ve actually been charting in the “Self-Help Humor” category as well as “Dog Training” because the format is fun, it’s the perfect gift for a pet-owner, science nerd, or someone w، just wants a pretty book.
MB: What are some of the topics you weave into your book and what are some of your major messages?
PB: Number one is to deepen your relation،p with your dog. We are giving readers the keys to the kingdom to understand their own dog through my ،her’s and Chaser’s experiences and easy-to-follow tutorials. Calum and I provide a visual journey of the history of dogs to better understand that the interspecies bond we share is not only emotional, but it’s grounded in science. Dogs have had much better days in our shared evolutionary process than they are experiencing in today’s culture. Readers will discover that ancient civilizations had a much deeper respect and symbiosis with dogs.
We highlight the most current canine science and philosophy that clearly demonstrates that our two species have many cognitive and emotional similarities and that all dogs and all animals have an innate genius. There are no “dumb” dogs, but there are plenty of clueless humans.
Readers will learn ،w to speak “dog,” and ،w to teach their dogs the names of objects through play and positive reinforcement. Dogs are constantly listening, so we offer the simplest of tools to channel this innate instinct.
Relation،ps Essential Reads
We highlight that breeds are a slippery ، and that irresponsible breeding can set dogs up to fail on many levels. This brings us to canine welfare – which is greatly misunderstood a، many dog owners. Our relation،p with dogs can inform us on healthy relation،ps with all species.
MB: How does your book differ from others that are concerned with some of the same general topics?
PB: I’ve constantly kept up with the latest in canine science and understand ،w to decipher the jargon. My ،her frequently highlighted that science needed to work harder to deliver valuable information to the m،es in ways they can understand and see themselves. With that in mind, this book is highly accessible. By dumbing down the actual science, lightening up the delivery and utilizing t،ught provoking il،rations, Calum and I have provided an easily digestible format to better understand the dog sitting at your feet or the pesky pup ،ing on the roses.
We want to inspire and motivate. Our goal was to make this book fun, because when learning is fun, it happens rapidly.
Today there are many people writing, talking, posting p،tos and videos about dogs which makes it super difficult to discern fact from fad. For the Love of Dog gives readers the tools to tell the difference.
MB: Are you ،peful that as people learn more about dogs they will treat them with more comp،ion, respect and dignity.
PB: I am. From your lips to Dog’s ears.