Have you ever wished you knew what the heck your dog was trying to say to you? If only they could talk back, right?
San Diego resident, Christina Hunger, actually taught her dog Stella how to communicate with people in a very interesting way. But before you start thinking it’s like a kids movie come to life, no, Stella doesn’t actually “speak” like a human. However, her large soundboard does.
26-year-old Hunger is a speech pathologist who’s passionate about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – and doggies too! She decided to use her skillset and try teaching her Catahoula/Blue Heeler a way that she could express her wants and feelings.
Believe it or not, 18-month-old Stella knows 29 different words that are on her floor keyboard. How it works is that each button “speaks” with a press from her paw.
So instead of Hunger having to scratch her head wondering whether Stella would rather go to the beach or take a nap – the dog just pushes on which she prefers.
There are a variety of different words on Stella’s soundboard that she knows. From immediate family members’ names to places, activities, and feelings.
Amazingly, Stella’s progressed with the technique, and can even combine several words in a row using the colorful buttons. In an interview with PEOPLE, Hunger said:
“I’m in constant amazement and shock. Every day she says something cooler than she said the day before.”
Hunger shares Stella’s development with the AAC device through her blog, “Hunger for Words.” She also posts videos on social media as well.
Stella has some favorite words and ones that she doesn’t like so much.
Hunger told Inside Edition that she really likes “play” and “outside.” On the other hand, she’s not too fond of “inside” and “later” (totally understandable).
“She likes to be outside and she likes things to happen now.”
On her custom board, there are emotions like happy and mad. There are also words like no, want, good, and bye. Stella can even hit the “love you” button too!
According to Hunger’s blog, Stella is starting to use both paws to communicate. Also, she will hit the button “look” to get her and her fiancé’s attention before saying her message.
So, how did the California woman get her pooch to learn such a useful and brilliant skill?
Apparently, like anything, it took a lot of practice. She explained to CNN:
“As a speech-language pathologist, I honestly did the same thing that I do to help children learn to communicate. Lots of time, lots of practice, and lots of repetition. I noticed how she was already communicating with her vocalizations and her gestures, and I added words to it and gave her the opportunity to practice.”
It’s understandable that people have been absolutely fascinated with Stella and her communication skills. After all, it’s not every day you see a pet clearly tell their owner exactly what they want.
Looking to teach your dog how to “speak” like Stella? Hunger offers some valuable tips and advice on her website that will help get you started.
Get a closer look at Stella in action by watching Inside Edition’s video below!
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