Man’s Best Friend

Dogs and humans have been connected for thousands of years. Our pups seem to understand us in a very unique and personal way. They can sense whether we’re happy or sad, and provide us emotional and even physical support.

A Brief History
The history of our furry friends dates back to before humans even began hunting mammoths. The canine family began to develop around sixty million years ago in the Paleocene era and not much later did the wolf family began to develop. Although, there is no specific date recorded for the first domesticated canine, there are rough estimates of what era they began. Dogs did not always feel love from humans. According to National Geographic, the first written record of the wolf’s persecution was in the sixth century B.C. when Solon of Athens offered a bounty for every wolf killed. The success of dogs comes down to survival of the friendliest.

Beginning of Domestication
There are many theories regarding why dogs became domesticated. Some believe that domestication was a choice made by the dog. Whether the dog approached the human or vice versa, both humans and dogs benefited from the relationship. Research suggests that since wolves evolved as scavengers, human campsites were quite attractive to them as it usually had animal carcasses and bones scattered around. Wolves began to slowly evolve into domesticated dogs because they quickly learned that hanging around humans would provide them with free food. When the middle ages transpired, dogs became a status symbol. Owning a dog provided distinction to those of a higher status.

As humans and wolves began to live and play together, friendliness caused strange things to happen in the wolves. They started to look different. Domestication gave wolves a new and smaller skeletal frame. In only a couple of generations later, these friendly wolves would have become very distinctive from their more aggressive ancestors. But, this evolution did not just affect their looks. Changes also happened to their psychology which made them able to excel at  understanding their interactions with humans.

Modern Relationship
In the past, dogs were simply kept for hunting or security. Although, some owners may still have dogs for these reasons, most dog owners keep them for their company and companionship. According to David Grimm of Science Magazine (2015, para. 1), “When our canine pals stare into our eyes, they activate the same hormonal response that bonds us to human infants.” Canines seem to understand us on a whole new level. This beneficial relationship is still lasting today. Humans provide love and care whereas dogs can offer us tangible benefits as a therapy animal, assistant to blind or disabled people, and companionship to those who are socially or physically isolated. As humans realized the advantages of being a dog owner, the connection and relationship between the two  began to grow and still continues to grow today.

Sources: NPR, National Geographic, Animal Freedom, Science Magazine, PHYS ORG, My Green World