Using only their dog's barks and body language, most pet owners can communicate with man's best friend, but there has always been a desire to know exactly what their pooch might be trying to say. Now, a speech-language pathologist might have found a way to do it, and she's proving it with her own pup, an 18-month-old Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix named Stella. Rather than trying to figure out if Stella is hungry or tired or needs to go outside, 26-year-old Christina Hunger has Stella tell her exactly what she needs using a soundboard. All Stella has to do is step on the buttons that correspond with what she wants to say.
Hunger created the board herself, recording and programming it with words like "Want," "Outside," "Ball" and "Look," and it is working well. One day, Stella was whining and pacing by the door. While Christina, like any good dog owner, figured Stella just wanted to go out, Stella was able to go to the soundboard and step on "Want," "Jake" and "Come." Minutes later, Christina's fiancé, Jake, came home and Stella ran to him and then to her soundboard to hit "Happy."
Hunger, who helps toddlers communicate with adaptive devices, began teaching Stella when the dog was just 8 weeks old. Stella now knows at least 29 words and can combine them to make sentences up to five words long. Christina told People, "I’m in constant amazement and shock. Every day she says something cooler than she said the day before. The way she uses words to communicate and the words she’s combining is really similar to a 2-year-old child."
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