Woof Meow Hello is a resource center and online shop focused on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solutions for our non-human friends.
AAC includes everything we use to communicate besides verbal speech; we use it every day when we make facial expressions, roll our eyes, use hand gestures, or even type on a keyboard.
While these methods of communication are used by most humans to supplement verbal speech, for those with limited or no speech capabilities, AAC is the foundation of communication. American Sign Language, lexigrams, and speech synthesis equipment are all excellent examples of the diverse technologies that have been developed for AAC.
Such systems and devices continue to benefit millions of humans globally, but it turns out they can also be used to empower animals to express themselves! Koko the gorilla learned hundreds of signs during her lifetime, and seven bonobos have learned to use a specially designed lexigram app on tablets to have two-way conversations. But the story doesn't end with the great apes.
In 2019, the remarkable speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger set out to see if her dog Stella could learn to communicate her thoughts using AAC, having trained non-verbal toddlers and children to do so through her work as a Pediatric Speech Pathologist for Early Intervention.
Hunger reasoned that since Stella, like all other dogs, could understand the words she says, the only thing that stopped her from using them was the inability to vocalize them. Why would Stella be any different than Hunger's three-year-old students, who previously could only understand language but learned to use it once given the right tools?
As it turns out, Hunger was on to something. Today, Stella's vocabulary includes more than 50 different words and phrases, including abstract concepts like "later," "morning," "help," and "love you."
Her viral internet following has begun a revolution, with hundreds of dogs and even a few cats finding their own fame on Tik Tok and Instagram for making history as some of the world's first talking non-avian pets. One dog can even tell you what time of day she went to the park or when she took a nap!
Currently, scientists at the Cognitive Cognition Lab at the University of California, San Diego are conducting a cutting edge research study on talking dogs, with its publication anticipated to be a landmark development in the worldwide fight for animal rights.
Woof Meow Hello believes every pet deserves a voice—it is the best gift you could ever give to your pet.
We are committed to every pet's journey to finding their voice, and you can follow their journeys with us on our Stories page. And if you have a story you would like us to share with the rest of the Woof Meow Hello community, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.