How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World’s First Talking Dog
by Christina Hunger
What Amazon Says
An incredible, revolutionary true story and surprisingly simple guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who has taught her dog, Stella, to communicate using simple paw-sized buttons associated with different words.
When speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger first came home with her puppy, Stella, it didn’t take long for her to start drawing connections between her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers with significant delays in language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to help them communicate. 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?
Christina decided to put her theory to the test with Stella and started using a paw-sized button programmed with her voice to say the word “outside” when clicked, whenever she took Stella out of the house. A few years later, Stella now has a bank of more than thirty word buttons, and uses them daily either individually or together to create near-complete sentences.
How Stella Learned to Talk is part memoir and part how-to guide. It chronicles the journey Christina and Stella have taken together, from the day they met, to the day Stella “spoke” her first word, and the other breakthroughs they’ve had since. It also reveals the techniques Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into simple stages and actionable steps any dog owner can use to start communicating with their pets.
Filled with conversations that Stella and Christina have had, as well as the attention to developmental detail that only a speech-language pathologist could know, How Stella Learned to Talk will be the indispensable dog book for the new decade.
I love dogs, although I don’t have one at the moment. But I must admit that at first, I was skeptical. Although I knew many dogs were intelligent, since they have been used to help humans, I didn’t think a dog was capable of pushing a button to communicate. Of course, I grew up with Irish setters, who, although loveable, aren’t the most intelligent of dogs.
But from the prologue on, my misconceptions were dispelled. I like how Christina Hunger starts her story at a pivotal moment and then goes back to the beginning. I found her process of training Stella and the way she connects this with her work with small children fascinating. I often laughed at Stella’s antics once the dog learned to use the communication board.
In the audio version I downloaded from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, I could hear what the device sounded like when Stella used it. I’m sure dog owners will appreciate the takeaways at the end of most chapters and the appendix. You can click here to learn more about Christina and Stella and watch this canine in action. Even if you’re like me and don’t have a dog, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this book.
New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me
Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.
Independently published with the help of DLD Books.
Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.
After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.
Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.
Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?