Every dog owner must have wondered what thoughts run through their dog’s mind. But whatever they might be thinking, they can only bark. And we can only guess whatever it is they need or feel.
But speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger can make her dog speak- without barking. Her dog, a Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix, can tell Christina when she is thirsty, when she wants to go outside and when she is looking for her favorite toy.
The 26-year-old has created an adaptive device with rows of large, colorful buttons. Each switch matches a distinct word that describes places such as ‘park’ and objects like ‘ball’ and feelings ranging from ‘happy’ to ‘mad.’
Christina or her fiance’s voice says the word when the button is touched. Using a combination of words, Stella can convey how she is feeling or what she needs.
Once, Christina told Stella it was time to sleep; Stella responded with ‘water.’ When Christina checked the dish, it actually needed to be refilled. Stella also expressed gratitude afterward by saying, ‘all done happy.’
Hunger records these moments with Stella and shares them online. These short videos showcase Stella’s incredible communication skills. And to watch them interact is such a fascinating thing.
‘Learning takes time, practice, and encouragement!’ Christina shares in one of her posts. In May 2018, baby Stella struggled to push her ‘outside’ button but 15 months later, she can navigate a board with 26 buttons and combine words together.