CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — More than six million people have tuned in to see Bunny, a one-year-old sheepadoodle, learn to communicate using a custom series of buttons created by her owner Alexis Divine.
The two are a part of a UC San Diego study which is how they ended up with the device that lets Bunny speak in English to Alexis.
“There are about 2500 animals in the study right now, majority dogs but there are some cats, there are a couple of pigs, a horse, a parrot, there’s a lemur. There’s some guinea pigs. So it’s really running the gamut. And I think we’re getting some pretty remarkable data,” said Divine.
The device has 100 buttons that allow Bunny to convey her needs, but Divine explained they slowly built up commands over time.
“It’s a lot of sort of trying things out that don’t necessarily work at first and figuring out a way to work those concepts and words into a context that she will be able to understand,” said Divine.
Divine said the impact has definitely been surprising, especially in the way it’s helping deepen people’s relationships to their animals.
“One of the things that is most impactful to me is how many people have DM me and just said we don’t ever plan to use the buttons, but what I’m learning from you is that we need to take the time to listen to our animals. That communication and relationship should be at the heart. And they have these rich cognitive lives and they experience emotions and they have like wants and needs,” said Divine.