Pet-owners would love it if their pets could speak to them. Some pet owners are lucky that their pets can talk to them like the African Grey parrots. Some of them are so smart, they can order things from Amazon devices. As a pet-owner, we are used to talking to our pets but the only way they respond is physical gestures. However, one pet owner took matters into her own hands and did something ingenious to teach her dog to communicate better with her by “talking”.
Christina Hunger, 26, a speech-language pathologist is teaching her 18-month-old dog, Stella, to talk to her with the help of a custom soundboard. Christina, who works with one and two-year-old children, has discovered that Stella can tell her multiple things now like when she’s tired from playing and would like to sleep or if she would like to eat instead. She can also tell her if she would like to go the park or the beach, according to People.
The Catahoula and Blue Heeler mix already knows 29 words, thanks to her owner’s passion for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, which are also used by the children she works with, according to NY Post. She can combine up to five words to make a phrase or sentence. The San Diego resident set up a button board for Stella when she was eight weeks old so she could interact with her and to give her a voice. The soundboard has buttons that play recordings of words like beach, ball, come, and happy.
“Stella often tells us a two-step sequence of what she wants to do,” Hunger captions a video on Instagram, which she uses to document her dog’s progress. She also blogs the progress. In one of the posts, she said that some mornings Stella likes to eat before going out to play and on some mornings she prefers to go outside before eating.
“This morning Stella told us ‘Come eat play,’ ” which meant that Stella wanted to eat first then play, Hunger writes.
Christina narrated another incident where the pup was whining in front of the front door and started pacing. The dog mom assumed that her dog had to go outside but when Stella walked to the device she said “Want Jake Come”. Jake is Christina’s fiance and he showed up a few minutes later, which is when the pooch pressed “happy” on the device and rolled over for a belly rub.
“I’m in constant amazement and shock,” Hunger tells People. “Every day she says something cooler than she said the day before,” she said. “The way she uses words to communicate and the words she’s combining is really similar to a 2-year-old child,” said she.
The dog mom loves to know what her pooch is thinking about and her dog is pleased to be able to communicate better as well. Initially, when her dog learned to express that she wanted to walk using the device she was excited and used to several times, said the 26-year-old. “I didn’t realize how much she was waiting to say it,” she told People.
She hopes to teach Stella more words and teach other dogs as well. “I think how important dogs are to their humans,” said she. “I just imagine how much deeper the bond will be,” said Christina.