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…
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.
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.”
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!