Christina Hunger is a 26 year old speech-language pathologist working in San Diego, California who has the strong conviction that "everyone" should have a say.
Christina pondered the potential of teaching her two-month-old puppy, a Catahoula/Blue Heeler named Stella, to use adaptive devices to communicate, much like she did with the one- and two-year-old children.
She pondered whether dogs, being able to understand our words, could be capable of expressing themselves to us through Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
begin, Christina and Jake fashioned a button with the word "outside" on it and hit it every time they spoke the word or opened the door. After several weeks, whenever Christina said "outside," Stella's eyes would be drawn to the button. Stella quickly started pressing the button each time she desired to venture outside.
They added more buttons that read "eat," "water," "play," "walk," "no," "come," "help," "bye," and "love you." Every day, she would use the buttons to communicate with Stella and educate her words, like in her speech therapy sessions with children - as she wrote about on her blog.
As a substitute for giving Stella a reward for pressing a button, we reacted to her communication by recognizing her expression and reacted suitably. Just like our own, Stella's voice and thoughts are essential, she went on.
Stella vocalizes "water" when her water bowl is dry. To express her desire to play tug of war, she says "play." Recently, she has begun to bid her friends "bye" if they get their jackets close to the entrance.Before long, Stella was able to construct sentences by combining individual words.
At present, Stella has mastered in excess of 29 words and can amalgamate up to five at once to make a phrase or sentence.She holds hope that her work has the power to alter the bond between people and pooches.