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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Pets

via Hunger 4 Words / Instagram

Christina Hunger, 26, is a speech-language pathologist in San Diego, California who believes that "everyone deserves a voice."

Hunger works with one- and two-year-old children, many of which use adaptive devices to communicate. So she wondered what would happen if she taught her two-month-old puppy, a Catahoula/Blue Heeler named Stella, to do the same.

"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?" she wondered.


Hunger and her fiancé Jake started simply by creating a button that said "outside" and then pressed it every time they said the word or opened the door. After a few weeks, every time Hunger said "outside," Stella looked at the button.

Soon, Stella began to step on the button every time she wanted to go outside.

They soon added more buttons that say "eat," "water," "play," "walk," "no," "come," "help," "bye," and "love you."

"Every day I spent time using Stella's buttons to talk with her and teach her words just as I would in speech therapy sessions with children," she wrote on her blog.

"Instead of rewarding Stella with a treat for using a button, we responded to her communication by acknowledging her message and responding accordingly. Stella's voice and opinions matter just as our own do," she continued.

If Stella's water bowl is empty, she says "water." If she wants to play tug of war, she says, "play." She even began to tell friends "bye" if they put on their jackets by the door.

Stella soon learned to combine different words to make phrases.

One afternoon, shortly after daylight savings, she began saying "eat" at 3:00 pm. When Hunger didn't respond with food, she said, "love you no" and walked out of the room.

Today, Stella has learned over 29 words and can combine up to five at a time to make a phrase or sentence.

"The way she uses words to communicate and the words she's combining is really similar to a 2-year-old child," Hunger says of her blog.

She believes her work has the potential to transform the bond between humans and dogs.

"I think how important dogs are to their humans," Hunger says. "I just imagine how much deeper the bond will be."

Stella asks to play ball outside.

Stella clearly wants some more breakfast.

After a fun day at the beach, Stella wants to go back.

Stella telling Hunger that she doesn't want her to leave to work.

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Soon, Stella began to step on the button every time she wanted to go outside.

They soon added more buttons that say "eat," "water," "play," "walk," "no," "come," "help," "bye," and "love you."

"Every day I spent time using Stella's buttons to talk with her and teach her words just as I would in speech therapy sessions with children," she wrote on her blog.

"Instead of rewarding Stella with a treat for using a button, we responded to her communication by acknowledging her message and responding accordingly. Stella's voice and opinions matter just as our own do," she continued.

If Stella's water bowl is empty, she says "water." If she wants to play tug of war, she says, "play." She even began to tell friends "bye" if they put on their jackets by the door.



This article originally appeared on 11.08.19

Photo by 傅甬 华 on Unsplash

Cats are far more badass than we give them credit for.

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and standoffish, like they're better than everyone and simply can't be bothered. Those of us who have cats know they're not always like that … but yes, they're sometimes like that. They can be sweet and affectionate, but they want affection on their terms, they want to eat and play and sleep on their own clock, and we puny, inferior humans have little say in the matter.

There's a reason why we have obedience schools for dogs and not for cats. Maine coon or Bengal, Savannah or Siamese, ragdoll or sphynx, domestic cats of all breeds are largely untrainable little punks who lure us into loving them by blessing us with the honor of stroking their fur and hearing them purr.

But perhaps we assume too much when we think cats are full of themselves for no good reason. Maybe they are actually somewhat justified in their snootiness. Maybe they really, truly are superior to pretty much every other creature on Earth and that's why they act like it.


(Cats, if they could talk, would be nodding and prodding us along at this point: "Yes, yes, you're so close. Just a little further now, keep going.")

Think about it. They're beautiful and graceful, but also quick and powerful. They groom constantly so they're almost always clean and their fur even smells good. They can fall from ridiculous heights, land on their feet and walk away unscathed. They're wicked good ambush hunters. They can walk completely silently, like ninjas, then pull out the razor blades on their feet at will and do serious damage in an instant.

All of that makes them impressive specimens, but ironically it's their total hubris that makes them truly superior. When they feel like it (because cats only do things they feel like doing) they will take on anyone and anything. Big, small, dangerous, fierce—doesn't matter. That unbridled confidence—earned or not—combined with their physique and skill makes them the badasses of the animal world.

Want proof? Here ya go:

The lightning-fast smackdown is really the cat's weapon of choice, isn't it? They're so fast with the swipe-slap, it takes their victims by surprise. "Aww, you're so cute and cuddly, look at y—OUCH!" And then the way they just stand there and stare with their big eyes and their ears back. It's unnerving. Throw in a little hiss or yowl, and no thank you.

If that video wasn't enough to convince you, here's another.

The snakes, man. I can't get over the snakes.

Cats really are better than us and every other living thing, basically. And even if they aren't, they believe they are, which counts just as much. They're either the ultimate creatures or the ultimate conmen. Either way, you just don't mess with them.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.22

Pets

Family brings home the wrong dog from daycare until their cats saved the day

A quick trip to the vet confirmed the cats' and family's suspicions.

Family accidentally brings wrong dog home but their cats knew

It's not a secret that nearly all golden retrievers are identical. Honestly, magic has to be involved for owners to know which one belongs to them when more than one golden retriever is around. Seriously, how do they all seem have the same face? It's like someone fell asleep on the copy machine when they were being created.

Outside of collars, harnesses and bandanas, immediately identifying the dog that belongs to you has to be a secret skill because at first glance, their personalities are also super similar. That's why it's not surprising when one family dropped off their sweet golden pooch at daycare and to be groomed, they didn't notice the daycare sent out the wrong dog.

See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.


Once the dog was in their house, they noticed that their cats started behaving strangely towards their canine sibling. The cats started attacking the dog, likely trying to get it to tell them what they did with their real dog sister. Cat slaps and a house full of strange people didn't dampen the imposter's spirit though, in fact, that's what helped reveal the switcharoo.

This dog kept handing out face kisses and had no interest in seeing her favorite neighbor. After putting all of those things together, the owners decided to hightail it to the vet's office to scan the dog's microchip. Alas, they indeed had the wrong dog.

"We just never even thought that that would happen, and of course we thought we would know right? Like we're her parents, we would know something was wrong, we would know right off the bat that it wasn't Emmy," Kebby Kelley told Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Seems both golden retrievers got to go on a really strange adventure that deserves a lifetime of delicious dog treats for the confusion.

See both sweet pups below:

This article originally appeared on 9.21.23

A woman was offered $200,000 for her dog.

For most dog owners, their pooch is a member of the family, best friend, confidante, and loyal protector. They would never dream of giving their dog away to anyone, let alone selling their pet. However, what if the offer was $200,000?

A TikTokker named Alexis Elliott says she received a “legit” offer of $200,000 for her Doberman pinscher puppy, but refused because she wouldn’t dream of selling her dog.

“Someone offered us $200K for our puppy, and I told my husband ‘absolutely f*cking not,’” the TikToker said. “Would you guys sell your dogs for $200k?” she asks later in the video. “Like, that is my baby! That is my baby. I birthed her. That is my child. Like there is no money, I would not sell her. But it just got me thinking, like, I wonder if people would have taken that 200K?"


After posing the question, Alexis received a lot of responses. Surprisingly, many of them would entertain the $200,000 offer.

Warning:Video contains strong language.

"In this economy? Yes." one user wrote, and people agreed with them, giving the comment over 8,000 likes. "I would absolutely, without even thinking about it, LMAO," Maee G added. Others thought that it was morally right to take the money. "It’s a crime to not accept 200k," Lana said.

One woman tried to alter the deal. "Not my dog but the husband, absolutely," a user wrote.

About the same number of commenters said they would never sell their dogs, even for $200,000. "A lot of you in these comments don’t deserve a dog," Adero_77 wrote. “Omg never. The thought of my dog being confused and feeling abandoned breaks my heart," Julie added.

"One time, someone asked my brother if he would sell his puppy. My brother answered, ‘No, I'd rather have an empty wallet than an empty house,’” Tracy Laguna wrote.

One person responded to the video with a funny clip of their dog waiting on the curb with a suitcase. “For 200k, damn!” I am Yelitzii captioned the video.

@iamyelitzii

#stitch with @Alexis For 200k damn 😂

Some believe that if their dog went to live with someone with $200k to spend on them, it would probably be living in a better place. "If they’re offering $200k they can clearly provide him a better life than I can! This is best for both of us," Clutch Grabs wrote. "Listen, with that type of money, me & my dog would live our best lives… separately," Jasmine added.

Those who said would never sell their dogs because it would cause them distress are correct. “Yes, your dog will miss you when you give them away,” Preventive Vet wrote on its blog. However, dogs can adapt to a new family situation. “It is normal for a dog to grieve the loss of their previous family and go through an acclimation period in their new home,” the blog continues. “While they may miss you, if they are in a caring environment and their needs are being met, they will do well.”


This article originally appeared on 12.10.23