Christina Hunger hugs Stella the talking dog.

Founder of the Talking Pet
Global Movement

Everyone has a voice and the potential to share it. By combining the fields of animal psychology, speech pathology, and AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) we are blazing the trail to unlock that potential. Welcome to Hunger for Words!

Christina Hunger portrait. Christina Hunger and Stella portrait.

At Hunger for Words, we’re pioneering new avenues of interspecies communication, starting with Stella, the world’s first talking dog.

I’m Christina Hunger, a speech-language pathologist. When I brought my new puppy, Stella, home, I realized she demonstrated many of the same pre-linguistic communication skills as toddlers do right before they start talking, which is when I was struck with an idea! I used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices in my practice to help my patients express themselves with words. Since dogs can understand words, could Stella use an AAC device to express herself the same way my patients did?

Stella the dog profile.

Meet Stella, the dog who
learned to talk.

Stella is our spunky 5-year-old Blue Heeler/Catahoula mix. Using a special communication device with buttons she presses, Stella gives voice to her daily thoughts, requests, feelings, and more using 50+ words and creating phrases up to 5 words long!

Stella the dog sits next to her soundboard, a communication device with recordable buttons.
Stella the dog using her paw to press a button on her communication device.

Stella communicates using a special device with buttons

Stella is a witty, playful, and happy girl. Her best days are spent playing with sticks and friends at the dog park, chasing birds along the beach, and getting scratches from anyone she can.

Still curious?

Watch Stella Talk Using Buttons

Want to see for yourself how dogs can communicate using words? Watch Stella speak with her AAC device here!

"Stella combining words!"

Giving Stella increased wait time while she's talking allows her to combine words and make more complex messages on her AAC device!

"Stella tells us she is all done with her bed!"

At 5:50 AM Stella woke up, came out of the bedroom, and stretched over to her device to say, “Bed all done. Come outside." Stella narrated what was happening first by telling me she was all done sleeping. It always amazes me to see Stella communicating to share information, rather than just requesting things.

"Why is Stella mad?"

One morning, Stella appeared upset so I asked, “Stella what’s wrong?” Stella said “mad,” and let out her frustrated little bark. I then asked, “Why are you mad?” and she responded, “Stella eat eat eat.” Since I didn’t leave for the day like usual, she didn’t get her typical morning snack. I gave Stella a treat like I normally would have, and she laid down and fell asleep. I’m so grateful Stella was able to express her needs in a different way to get them met.

"Stella tells us how much she wants to go "bye"!"

Stella said “want want” then huffed. I used her buttons and verbal speech to ask, “want want what?” Stella paused, said “want want love you bye bye Stella” then walked to the door. When I opened the door, Stella laid down to sunbathe. That was Stella’s way of saying “I’m outta here!”