Sheepadoodle Bunny appears to tell her owner she misses family’s lost cat by using a sound board

Many dog owners often wonder whether their pet misses them when they’re gone. 

But one sheepadoodle named Bunny appears to be able to communicate just that — except it’s not just humans that she longs for.

Bunny’s owner Alexis Devine, from Tacoma, Washington, said her dog even pines for the family’s lost cat, appearing to make her feelings known by ‘talking’ with the help of a sound board.

By pressing buttons on it, Bunny has been trained to relay basic responses such as ‘Where mom?’ and ‘Bunny sad’. 

Mournful: Many dog owners often wonder whether their pet misses them when they're gone

Mournful: Many dog owners often wonder whether their pet misses them when they're gone

But one sheepadoodle named Bunny (pictured) appears to be able communicate just that ¿ except it's not just humans that she longs for, she also misses the family's lost cat Uni

But one sheepadoodle named Bunny (pictured) appears to be able communicate just that ¿ except it's not just humans that she longs for, she also misses the family's lost cat Uni

Mournful: Many dog owners often wonder whether their pet misses them when they’re gone. But one sheepadoodle named Bunny (pictured) appears to be able communicate just that — except it’s not just humans that she longs for, she also misses the family’s lost cat Uni

Bunny's owner Alexis Devine, from Tacoma, Washington, said her dog made its feelings known by 'talking' with the help of a sound board (pictured)

Bunny's owner Alexis Devine, from Tacoma, Washington, said her dog made its feelings known by 'talking' with the help of a sound board (pictured)

Bunny’s owner Alexis Devine, from Tacoma, Washington, said her dog made its feelings known by ‘talking’ with the help of a sound board (pictured)

By pressing buttons on it, Bunny has been trained to relay basic responses such as 'Where mom?' and 'Bunny sad'

By pressing buttons on it, Bunny has been trained to relay basic responses such as 'Where mom?' and 'Bunny sad'

By pressing buttons on it, Bunny has been trained to relay basic responses such as ‘Where mom?’ and ‘Bunny sad’

CAN DOGS REALLY ‘SPEAK’ TO HUMANS? 

Whether dogs can understand the human language, and to what extent, has long been the source of scientific debate.

There is still plenty of research being carried out, including the project that Buddy is enrolled in called TheyCanTalk.

It is aimed at understanding if animals can communicate with humans through augmentative and alternative communication devices, and involves almost 2,600 dogs and 300 cats. 

One study by the University of Sussex said our canine companions’ comprehension goes far beyond just ‘sit’, ‘walk’ and ‘fetch’.

Dogs are adept at picking up on subtle changes to words, such as ‘hid’ and ‘had’, and can even decipher accents from the Queen’s English to a thick West Country twang, according to the research

Another study by Hungarian experts found that dogs process speech in the same way as humans do, but that does not mean spoken words are the most effective way for an owner to communicate with a dog.

That’s because separate research has shown that the neural reward system of dogs is more attuned to visual and to scent cues than to verbal ones.

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There is still a great deal of scientific debate about how much dogs including Bunny understand human language, but one study by the University of Sussex said their comprehension goes far beyond just ‘sit’, ‘walk’ and ‘fetch’.

Our canine companions are adept at picking up on subtle changes to words, such as ‘hid’ and ‘had’, and can even decipher accents from the Queen’s English to a thick West Country twang, according to the research

Another study by Hungarian experts found that dogs process speech in the same way as humans do, but that does not mean spoken words are the most effective way for an owner to communicate with a dog.

That’s because separate research has shown that the neural reward system of dogs is more attuned to visual and to scent cues than to verbal ones. 

Nevertheless, Ms Devine is adamant that Bunny can communicate using the sound board, and her videos have led to the sheepadoodle amassing 7.1 million followers on TikTok.

Recently she filmed Bunny asking about Uni, the family’s cat who has been missing for nearly four months.

‘It was maybe like two months before he went missing that she had finally, finally used the buttons, “Uni family together,” which was a huge accomplishment because they had had such a tenuous and challenging relationship,’ Devine told Salon

‘And then, last week, it was just heartbreaking, she pressed “cat bye”, and I just about burst into tears. My little heart couldn’t handle it.’ 

Ms Devine said that not only does Bunny miss the family’s cat, but also her partner Johnny, a high school teacher who spent much of the pandemic working from home. 

‘The first week that he was back at school in the classroom, Bunny was very much asking about Johnny, pressing “Where dad?”, “Where dad bye?” for a lot of the day, for several days in a row,’ said Ms Devine. 

Ms Devine's videos have led to the sheepadoodle amassing 7.1 million followers on TikTok

Ms Devine's videos have led to the sheepadoodle amassing 7.1 million followers on TikTok

Ms Devine’s videos have led to the sheepadoodle amassing 7.1 million followers on TikTok

Ms Devine said that not only does Bunny miss the family's cat, but also her partner Johnny, a high school teacher who spent much of the pandemic working from home

Ms Devine said that not only does Bunny miss the family's cat, but also her partner Johnny, a high school teacher who spent much of the pandemic working from home

She can also 'speak' phrases such as 'love you mom'

She can also 'speak' phrases such as 'love you mom'

Ms Devine said that not only does Bunny miss the family’s cat, but also her partner Johnny, a high school teacher who spent much of the pandemic working from home

Scientific research: Buddy is one of almost 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called TheyCanTalk, which is aimed at understanding if animals can communicate with humans through augmentative and alternative communication devices

Scientific research: Buddy is one of almost 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called TheyCanTalk, which is aimed at understanding if animals can communicate with humans through augmentative and alternative communication devices

Scientific research: Buddy is one of almost 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called TheyCanTalk, which is aimed at understanding if animals can communicate with humans through augmentative and alternative communication devices

One expert said it was ‘certainly’ possible that Bunny is missing Uni and Johnny. 

‘Most social animals living in small groups or packs are aware that somebody is missing,’ Federico Rossano, director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at UC San Diego, told the Salon. 

‘This is most obvious in a mother keeping track of their cubs and going to retrieve one that has gone too far.’

Buddy is one of almost 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called TheyCanTalk, which is aimed at understanding if animals can communicate with humans through augmentative and alternative communication devices.

The devices, similar to Bunny’s sound board buttons, were originally designed for humans with communication disorders, but more recently have been adapted to use in language experiments with animals.

Bunny was first introduced to the specially made communication pad as soon as she arrived at the Devine family home in September 2019. 

The first word she mastered was ‘outside’, and later her vocabulary expanded to  include ‘play’, ‘beach’ and ‘park’. 

The sheepadoodle also learned to press down on a specific button when she wanted to go outdoors or go for a wee.   

Ms Devine was keen to introduce the unusual method of communicating after seeing the technology being used online by other dog owners.

She made her own sound board after being inspired by speech language pathologist Christina Hunger and her dog Stella.

‘The sound board has been an overwhelmingly positive experience,’ Ms Devine has said previously.

‘Bunny and I work on engagement, tricks and obedience to strengthen our bond daily, but this has added so much laughter, joy and wonder to our lives.

‘It’s always an adventure, and we are thoroughly enjoying the ride regardless of the destination.’

IS DOG INTELLIGENCE AKIN TO HUMAN INTELLIGENCE?

Dogs’ abilities to learn are varied, much like humans’ abilities, according to WebMD.

Dogs that were bred in order to hunt, retrieve or herd are faster learners because they are inherently quicker on their feet.

Similarly, dogs bred to guard livestock or track scents are usually slower.

A new study has found that mental deterioration among older dogs can be staved off if the dogs complete brain teasers on a touch screen (file photo)

A new study has found that mental deterioration among older dogs can be staved off if the dogs complete brain teasers on a touch screen (file photo)

A new study has found that mental deterioration among older dogs can be staved off if the dogs complete brain teasers on a touch screen (file photo)

The key in training your dog, WebMD says, comes down to knowing what your dog was bred to accomplish.

However, all dogs can be trained to follow simple commands, according to trainers.

WebMD reports that the following are the most naturally intelligent dog breeds:

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog 
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