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Christina Hunger Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

How Stella Learned to Talk (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Christina Hunger
Christina Hunger is a speech-language pathologist (speech therapist), and she helps people of all ages learn ways to improve their communication. She loves dogs, too. Looking back, she never could have possibly guessed where these two passions would lead her.

She brought Stella, her Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix puppy, home in 2018, and she couldn’t help but notice all of the similarities between the communication skills she displayed and those of toddlers just before they started saying actual words. For example, Stella cried to get attention and would gesture to request some kind of action, like when she nosed her empty water bowl.

Christina was inspired by her passion for using technology as well as other adaptive equipment to help people communicate when speaking is tough, along with her desire for Stella to be understood, in order to see what would happen if she provided Stella with a way to say all of the words that she was understanding and hearing.

Christina began this experiment with just a few recordable buttons which Stella could push to say things like “water”, “outside”, and “play”, and the same exact language facilitation strategies she uses with kids. Since she introduced these first words, Stella has progressed well beyond what she ever thought was possible.

Now, she uses this homemade device to say over 45 words (and counting), and can combine up to five words together to create unique phrases, express her thoughts and feelings, ask and answer questions, make observations, participate in short and simple conversations, and connect with people on a daily basis.

Christina believes that any regular person with the right motivation and information could teach their dog to communicate. Patience is probably the most important aspect of this, since dogs are essentially learning a second language.

Christina believes that if you want your dog to talk to you, you have to talk to your dog. They’re able to understand words, but they only need another way to say words.

One of the first steps pet owners can take, she says, in teaching their pets these talking skills is to narrate their dog’s actions using simple and short phrases. Christina will use words like “come outside”, “walk”, “water”, and “play play play” as Stella does these things.

During the first month, progress was slow. She eventually learned to approach the “outside” button when she had to go outside, but simply waited for Christina to push it.

Then one night, she said her first word. She went over to the door and sat by the button, and waited for Jake to take her out. When he didn’t open the door after 30 seconds, she pawed at the button until it sounded.

Hunger started modeling new words for “no”, “eat”, “bye”, “love you”, “come”, “walk”, and help. Once these buttons are placed somewhere, they should be kept in the same spot.

She started modeling the words in the same way as the first round of words and found that Stella learned faster when there were simultaneous words available to her. After three days, Stella started using “walk” often when she wanted to go out, and “outside” was used only when she needed to relieve herself.

Before long, Stella’s language skills began getting more complicated. Once while Christina was watering houseplants, the dog hit the water button. And eventually, Stella was able to piece together multiple words, like “Christina come play love you”.

It’s changed the way she thinks about dogs. They are thinking a lot. They have opinions and feel. They are so observant of their environment and have comments about what’s happening. They’ve got their own independent thoughts and ideas and are only wanting to share them.

In 2019, Stella’s communication abilities made international headlines, and thousands of other dogs all around the world have been learning to talk as well. She truly believes that everybody deserves to share their voice with the world. That’s why Christina, through Hunger for Words, has dedicated time and energy to create broader access to communication, spreading knowledge, and showing what will happen when you believe in potential.

“How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World’s First Talking Dog” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2021. This is a revolutionary and incredible true story and is a surprisingly simple guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who taught Stella (her dog) to communicate using these simple paw sized buttons associated with different words.

When Christina first arrived back home with Stella, it did not take her long before she began drawing these connections with her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers that had significant delays in their language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices which helped them communicate. During the night, she got to wondering, if dogs are able to understand the words that we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words back to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with us humans?

She decided she’d put this theory to the test with Stella and began using this paw sized button that was programmed with her own voice to say the word “outside” when it was clicked, and whenever she took Stella out of the house. Stella, just a few years later, has this bank of over thirty word buttons, and she uses them daily whether individually or together to create almost complete sentences.

This is part how-to guide and part memoir. Christina chronicles the journey that Stella and Christina have taken together, from the day that they met each other, to the day that Stella “spoke” her first word, and some of the other breakthroughs that they have had since then. The book also reveals some of the techniques that Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into these simple stages and actionable steps that any dog owner can use to begin communicating with their pets.

Filled with conversations that Christina has had with Stella, along with the attention to developmental detail which only a speech-language pathologist could know, this is going to be the indispensable dog book for the next decade.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Christina Hunger

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