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UPDATE: How Stella Learned To Talk Is Available To Order NOW!
Anyone well familiar with canine AAC, or the phenomenon of dogs pressing buttons to talk — knows that it all started with speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger and her clever new puppy named Stella. Not long after taking Stella home, Hunger began seeing connections between her everyday experiences at home with Stella and her everyday experiences with toddlers at work.
Every day, Hunger helped Toddlers with significant delays in language development to communicate by using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. At night, she wondered: If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?
To test her theory, Hunger began to use a small recordable sound button, programmed with her voice to say the word OUTSIDE. Every time they left the house, Hunger pressed the button. Modeling of the button's use over time allowed Stella to associate meaning with the button, and soon she began using it herself to request to go outside. Today, Stella's vocabulary includes more than 45 words. On her website, hungerforwords.com, Hunger reports that Stella can now "combine up to 5 words together to create unique phrases, ask and answer questions, express her thoughts and feelings, make observations, participate in short conversations, and connect with us every single day."
Described as a "part memoir and part how-to guide," How Stella Learned To Talk: The Groundbreaking Story Of The World's First Talking Dog by Christina Hunger is available now for pre-order, with an official release on May 4th, 2021. And, as a pre-order exclusive, Hunger is including a video with tips and tricks to start teaching your dog to talk!
On May 6th, Hunger will be hosting a virtual event with Alexis Devine, who has trained her dog Bunny to talk with buttons with similarly remarkable results. The event is free, but you must register in advance to attend here.