Christina Hunger started training her dog with the device since she was just 8 weeks old. Today, the dog communicates all her needs through the device.
Most owners share a deep connection with their pets. Though we speak to them and understand the needs of our animals, sometimes we wish they had the ability to respond to us. While many of us are still wondering about such a possibility, one dog owner has already come up with a solution.
According to People, Christina Hunger, a speech-language pathologist has devised a custom soundboard that helps her dog, Stella talk. She created a recorded and programmed device with several buttons associated with various commonly used words. These words are used to communicate the dog's needs.
When her 18-month-old dog wants to talk to her, she steps on the buttons programmed with the words she wants to communicate.
The device has enabled the Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix to "talk" about not just her needs but also what's on her mind, to Christina. “The way she uses words to communicate and the words she’s combining is really similar to a 2-year-old child,” said Christina. She added, "I’m in constant amazement and shock. Every day she says something cooler than she said the day before."
Christina works with children aged one and two years of age, who communicate with such adaptive devices. Inspired by that, she created one for Stella when the dog was just 8 weeks old. Stella first learned to communicate the word, "walk." “I didn’t realize how much she was waiting to say it,” said the speech-language pathologist.
Seeing her dog's excitement at being able to "speak" to her, Christina continued to teach her more. Today, the 18-month old dog knows at least 29 words. What's all the more surprising is Stella can even combine up to five words to create a phrase or a sentence.
Christina recalled various instances when her dog decided to make use of her language skills. She said she saw her dog whine at the front door and walk restlessly one day. She thought Stella wanted to go out. However, Stella had something else in her mind. The dog walked up to the device and tapped out, “want,” “Jake” “come.” She even waited at the door till Christina's fiance, Jake arrived. A few minutes after Jake walked in, The dog pressed "happy" and rolled over for a belly rub.
She added that Stella's favorite word is “beach.” “She loves saying ‘beach.’ She was so happy and still says it very often,” the 26-year-old said. Stella uses her skills to talk to Christina about her needs. She lets her know if she wants to go out, eat her food or play.
Christina plans to continue her efforts and hopes to teach other dogs to speak too. “I think how important dogs are to their humans,” Hunger says. “I just imagine how much deeper the bond will be,” said the dog owner.