How did the dog become mans best friend? – Part 1

It would be quite a shock if someone said to you that they owned a wolf. But, in essence, if they had a pet dog, the statement would be more or less true.

However, to be fair, we don’t really think much of the ancestry of dogs as canis lupus anymore, because the history of their domestication is so old. Fossil records actually show co-habitation of dogs and humans from more than 14,000 years ago; there is even evidence in some locations of ancient dog burials!

Dogs, like wolves, are pack animals, which means that they are social and sociable by nature; their domestication into human life was, quite obviously, a very natural progression, and also a symbiotic one. Dogs have definitely benefited from living in the lap of luxury amongst humans. But dogs have also proven their usefulness to us humans, many times over. Dogs have become known as “man’s best friend” not just because of their unique ability to help humans, but also because of their overwhelming willingness to provide it!

It is very interesting to note that the term “man’s best friend” permeates different cultures and languages who had no contact with each other during the formative years of canine domestication. Much of this is likely attributable to the dog’s special talents in hunting and retrieving, which is likely the first full-time jobs that dogs ever held as members of the human pack. Men, the hunter/gatherers, often spent longer stretches of time away from their societies and families; when you think about it, they likely spent more time with their hunting companions – their dogs – than they did with their wives! (and they say that life was tougher back then?!).

Also, dogs have become so domesticated nowadays that their emotional expressions actually mirror those of humans. Dogs have been known to smile, be upset, be temperamental, have nightmares, and express other very “human” emotions. The term “puppy dog eyes” is now well-known as a physical characteristic of pleading.

When considering dogs’ positions in todays society, the moniker “man’s best friend” is truly apt. Dogs now help out in so many facets of our lives, as guides for the visually impaired, former carriage drivers for old fire engines, mountain rescue mission retrievers, police assistants, and so much more. Dogs have in fact become so much more than our best friends, they have become members of our larger family – part of the “pack”, so to speak.

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