I remember when I was a young boy, I dreamed about my dog Quincy being able to talk. I’d think about the conversations we’d have and all the great adventures we’d go on together. He was my best pal, and his being able to talk would just be the icing on the cake…

As you’ve probably figured out by now, Quincy never learned how to talk and my childhood was ruined. But this story gives me hope for the future!

Christina Hunger is a speech-language pathologist who is working on teaching her 18-month old dog Stella to speak…seriously. Hunger (what a name) says that Stella already knows 29 words…which is 29 more than Quincy ever knew…

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Hello there everyone!! 🤗 Welcome to the Hunger for Words community! I’m THRILLED you’re here! I feel completely honored by this outpouring of enthusiasm and inspiration ✨✨ Here is a fun Stella series to kick off this new chapter! • Jake and I were discussing taking Stella to Petco. She was certainly listening…! • Video 1: Stella said “Goodbye outside.” This is the third time in the past few weeks that Stella has combined “good” and “bye” to say “Goodbye” instead of just “bye”! • Video 2: Jake said he wanted to hang our spice racks first, started the project, and Stella told him, “Later Jake” 😂😂 (Translation: Do that later, I want to go!) • Video 3: Stella came full circle with her message and told us she was REALLY ready to leave by saying, “Bye bye bye good bye!” (Looks like we have ourselves a little @nsync fan 😜) • I hope you all have a great day!

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So how is she doing this? Well, Hunger is training Stella to use an adaptive device usually used by young children.

Hunger also says that, in addition to the 29 words, Stella can form five-word phrases and sentences.

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Stella uses language differently when she’s in a heightened state versus when she’s calm! • Today when she heard some noises outside and wanted to go investigate, I told her we were staying inside. • Stella responded by saying, “Look” 9 TIMES IN A ROW, then “Come outside.” She was clearly in a more frantic state, and her language use matched that. We all sound differently than normal when we’re in distress, Stella included! • I’m impressed that Stella is communicating with language during her more heightened states, not just when she’s calm and in a quiet space. This shows me that words are becoming more automatic for her to use. It’s similar to when a toddler starts using language to express himself during times of frustration instead of only crying. That happens when it’s easy for the toddler to say words, not when he’s still learning and it takes a lot of focus to talk 🧠🗣 • • • • • #hunger4words #stellathetalkingdog #slpsofinstagram #speechtherapy #AAC #ashaigers #slp #corewords #SLPeeps #slp2be #earlyintervention #languagedevelopment #dogsofinstagram #dogmom #doglife #dogs #guarddog #animalpsychology #doglover #dogvideos #sandiegodog #catahoula #blueheeler #smartdog #dogcommunication #mydogtalks #animalcommunication #interspeciescommunication #loveanimals

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Stella is using a system that has a number of buttons, each of which plays a particular word out loud when it is touched. Hunger started teaching Stella how to use the device when the pup was only eight weeks old, and Stella can now let her owner know when she needs help, when she wants to take a walk or go play, if and when she misses a certain family member, and if she’s feeling distressed.

Hunger said, “The way she uses words to communicate and the words she’s combining is really similar to a two-year-old child.”

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I AM MIND BLOWN 🤯 Last night after coming inside, Stella said “Come eat come play.” I was pretty sure she meant that she wanted to eat dinner then play, but I asked, “Do you want to eat or play?” to clarify. • Stella licked her lips, paused, and responded, “Want come eat.” After Stella ate, she immediately dove at her toy and started playing. • AHHH! This is amazing for so many reasons! Stella told me a sequence of two things she wanted to do. Then, I asked her a question containing two options, and she answered with a short phrase confirming her original message! Stella even expanded her own phrase from “Come eat ” to “Want come eat.” The speech therapist side of me is completely amazed, and the dog mom side of me is incredibly proud. Yay, Stella!! • • • • • #hunger4words #stellathetalkingdog #proud #slpsofinstagram #speechtherapy #AAC #ashaigers #slp #corewords #SLPeeps #slp2be #aacawarenessmonth #earlyintervention #languagedevelopment #dogsofinstagram #dogmom #doglife #dogs #animalpsychology #doglover #dogvideos #sandiegodog #catahoula #blueheeler #smartdog #dogcommunication #mydogtalks #animalcommunication #interspeciescommunication #loveanimals

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Hunger is basing the training off of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, known as AAC. Hunger has learned that even though dogs can’t speak like humans do, they can express themselves in other ways, such as barking and jumping. Hunger also said that she wants to eventually teach other dogs to “speak” as well.

You have to admit that this is a pretty incredible story and the progress that Hunger has made is very impressive. Follow her Instagram page to follow this excellent journey. Go Stella!