A Dog’s Hunger for Words #FridayFunReads #Nonfiction #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World’s First Talking Dog

by Christina Hunger

Copyright 2021.

 

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.

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

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.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

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?

***

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To Board or Not to Board #SixSentenceStoryThursdayLinkUp #Excerpt #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Six Sentence Story Thursday Link Up. This week’s given word from Girlie on the Edge is “board.” You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ six-sentence creations.

In the following scene from Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, told from sixteen-year-old Natalie’s point of view, the family is planning to visit grandparents in another city over the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s the question of what to do with the dog.

***

“We still haven’t gotten him house trained,” said Mom. “I’m sure your folks won’t appreciate him peeing and pooping all over the place. I’ll call that vet you took him to when you found him and see if they can board him over the weekend.”

“No!” cried Sarah, jumping to her feet and rushing to the crate.

“Sarah, you get back here and finish your breakfast!” Mom commanded.

Sarah turned and came back to the table, looking like she was ready to cry as Squeakers whined again.

***

So, does Squeakers get to visit the grandparents, too? You’ll have to read the book and find out.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

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?

***

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-Christmas Morning Anticipation #TuesdayTidbit #Excerpt #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

Here’s another teaser from my latest book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, which you can now download from Smashwords absolutely free until December 31st. See below for details. This little scene was published in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which you can read here. It’s Christmas morning, and sixteen-year-old Natalie and her ten-year-old sister Sarah, along with their dog and grandparents, eagerly wait for their parents to get out of bed, so they can open their stockings.

***

Chapter 30

 

Natalie

 

The next morning, Sarah shook me awake before it was light. “Natalie, wake up. It’s Christmas! Let’s see what’s in our stockings!”

“You know we can’t do that. We have to wait until everybody’s up. That’s the rule.”

Footsteps sounded in the hall, and someone tapped on the door.

“Come in,” we said.

The door opened, and Grandpa stuck in his head. “Grandma’s making hot chocolate. You girls might as well come down.”

“Are Mom and Dad up yet?” I asked.

“No, not yet, so be quiet.”

We put on our robes and slippers. Squeakers jumped out of his bed and wagged his tail. Sarah picked him up. “Come on, Squeakers. We put a stocking up for you. Let’s see what Santa brought!”

In the living room, as we did every year, Sarah and I gazed in wonder at the blinking lights on the Christmas tree, the packages underneath it, and the bulging stockings hanging above the fireplace. Grandpa was in one of the armchairs, his nose buried in a newspaper.

I noticed a box on the mantle above my stocking with a note pinned to it. I walked over to take a closer look.

Without lowering the newspaper, Grandpa said, “Don’t you dare! Sit down, and let’s wait for your parents.”

“I’m just looking,” I protested. I spotted a brand name on the side of the box. “Olympus! It’s a camera!”

Grandpa lowered the newspaper. “Why don’t you girls go see if your grandmother needs help with the hot chocolate?”

“Okay,” said Sarah, turning toward the kitchen. “Squeakers probably needs to go out, anyway.”

I reluctantly followed her out of the living room.

A few minutes later, we were all sitting in the living room, drinking hot chocolate. Sarah and I were on the couch with Squeakers between us, and Grandma and Grandpa were across from us in armchairs.

***

Now, I have one exciting event to announce, and I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of it. Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, The Red Dress, and My Ideal Partner are now absolutely free as part of the Smashwords end-of-year sale, which will run until December 31st. You can click here for more information and to download these books.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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?

***

Books

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Nature’s Call #Fiction #TuesdayTidbit #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

NATURE’S CALL

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2021

 

Being a lady, I should be more modest, but I’m not. When I need to squat, it doesn’t matter where I go, on the lawn, on the sidewalk, even in the street if I’m there long enough. Most of the time, I’m not because when I wander into traffic, my humans yell, “Maud, get out of the street.”

They tell this story about Ed. He got me from a man who called me Old Glory because I was born on the Fourth of July. I hated that name and the fireworks on my birthday that always sent me scurrying into the bathtub for cover. So, I was relieved when Ed decided to call me Maud instead.

Anyway, during family road trips, when he was driving, even in broad daylight, he would sometimes say, “Piss call.” Then, he’d pull the car to the side of the road, jump out, and do his business right there. So, that’s me. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

One day, I was walking along with Ed and his daughter Abbie, who lived in an apartment across town. I suddenly had to go, and I spotted a beautiful green lawn. Being off leash, I scampered onto the grass and did my business, just as the front door opened. The woman who stepped onto the porch and greeted Abbie turned out to be her boss at work. Fortunately, Abbie didn’t lose her job over this, but I wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Once, I relieved myself indoors. It happened after Abbie told me she was moving to a different apartment complex where dogs wouldn’t be allowed to visit unless they were service animals. I thought I’d served her well over the years. I’d chased the white ball at the end of the stick she sometimes rolled along in front of her when she walked. I’d licked her face when she was sad and moved into the back seat when Ed picked her up so she could ride in front with him. Apparently, that didn’t qualify me as a service dog.

Abbie explained that this apartment complex would be better than where she was living now because there would be laundry facilities, and the apartment would have a shower, not just a bathtub. Also, there was a garbage chute on each floor. So, she would no longer need to slip slide through the alley to empty the trash. I wagged my tail as if I understood, but I didn’t.

The next day, while Ed was helping Abbie move stuff out of the old apartment, I had to go, and I wasn’t about to wait until I could get outdoors like I should have. I delivered a nice surprise on her dining room carpet, and it wasn’t pee. Abbie stepped in it. That’s what she got for trading a lovable Irish setter for laundry, a shower, and a trash chute. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

***

The above is a fictionalized account of events involving the Irish setter my father had while I was working as a registered music therapist with nursing home residents. It appears in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine. I wrote it during a meeting of my local poetry group, believe it or not. We were prompted to write a poem about what goes on inside an animal’s head. Well, as I’m sure you now realize, my poem metastasized into a short story. You can click here to read this and other wonderful work in The Writer’s Grapevine.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Wake up Daddy by Trish Hubschman #WordPressWednesday #Reblogs #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

I can’t think of a better way to start a Wednesday than to read this heartwarming post by author Trish Hubschman, as it appears on fellow blogger Patty Fletcher’s site. If you have a dog, I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to this.

Trish has published a series of mystery novels involving a private eye and a rock star. After reading her story, you’ll be able to learn more about her books. I hope today’s post warms your heart and puts a smile on your face.

***

It’s between four and six in the morning. Henry is on his pillow on the floor. He’s restless. I can hear him jingling the tags on his collar. “Hey, boy, what’s up? “I whisper as he jumps on our bed.

 

Read the full post on Patty’s Worlds.