Speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger can make her dog talk—without barking. The 26-year-old has devised a way for her pup Stella to use human language to communicate her needs. Thanks to Hunger’s ingenuity, the Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix can specify when she is thirsty, when she wants to go outside, and when she is looking for her favorite toy. Hunger documents Stella’s burgeoning skills in short videos and their back-and-forth conversations are nothing short of amazing.
So, how does Stella talk? Hunger created an adaptive device that features rows of large, colorful buttons. Each switch corresponds to a different word that describes places like “park” and objects including “ball” as well as emotions ranging from “happy” to “mad.” When the button is pressed, Hunger or her fiancé’s voice says the word. Stella can then string together multiple words to express what she’s trying to say.
In one video, Hunger told Stella that it was time to lay down, but Stella responded with the word “water.” When her human went to her dish, it turns out that it did need to be refilled. After Stella drank the water, Hunger again tried to get her to go to bed. Stella countered with “toy ball want” to communicate that she wanted her Kong toy—something that is always in her bed with her. Once the Kong was found, Stella showed her gratitude by saying “all done happy!”
Scroll below to watch Stella talk and follow Hunger on Instagram to see what the two are saying next.