Have you ever wondered why some people are prepared to fight for their street dogs and even get beaten up protecting a pet dog something they may not do for another human? And why a dog brings out the most emotional and passionate love in a human being? The bond between us and our dogs seems to be barcoded into the human DNA by thousands of years of trust shared and lasting friendships. Dogs may have begun the journey by helping with hunting animals for food or acting as watch dogs outside camps, but the bond between dog and man soon went way beyond this utilitarian relationship to something magnificent.
They became our most trusted and loyal friends, protectors of our children, working partners to save us from hidden mines or bombs, or simply to hold our hand when sick and depressed as therapy dogs. And this has been true over thousands of years in all cultures and in all civilizations. For us who believe in the law of Karma there is food for thought here. If relationships are predetermined by our past births was our family tommy or kalu with us in many other births and the dog that pulls at our heartstrings and without whom life seems impossible, was he our companion in other lives! And when a beloved Caesar at the age of 16 passes away why is the grief as intense as the loss of a family member. The fact that sane, very practical, down to earth people like us can even think this or feel this, shows the connect between dog and man is indeed time defying and transcendent.
To uncover the beginnings of this unique relationship, we will need to travel through time to investigate the enthralling tale of how the ancestors of dogs evolved into man’s most trusted companions.
The narrative starts tens of thousands of years ago, when early humans were still hunter-gatherers and were fighting for survival in a hostile and uncertain environment. During that ancient period, free-roaming canids roamed the landscapes, and the paths of people and dogs often intersected. These wild canids belonged to the species Canis lupus, often known as wolves, and had great intelligence in addition to complex social systems. They were accomplished hunters and trackers of their prey.
The turning point in history, the event that caused the path of events to be altered, happened when humans first became aware of the exceptional skills possessed by wolves and started to create an unusual partnership with them. The first people realised that working with wolves considerably boosted their odds of successfully hunting game. The interaction between humans and wolves eventually became mutually beneficial once the people began feeding the wolves their leftovers and pieces of food.
Over time, as the wolves and humans developed a deeper level of trust for one another, the wolves got more at ease in the company of people, and the humans started to value the companionship provided by the wolves. This foundation of trust between one another laid the groundwork for a connection that would last for millennia. Even when mans nomadic existence was replaced by a more sedentary one of agriculture, tilling the fields and developing crafts and other such trading skills dogs evolved to play another role that of guards because of their acute hearing and sense of smell and their loyalty to their human family. They warned people of possible threats while also assisting in protecting crops from herbivorous pests.
Wolves that had specific characteristics that humans valued, such as faithfulness, intellect, and specialised abilities. Over the course of many generations of breeding, we have the development of various dog breeds. Some were ‘hired’ as hunting companions, and their responsibilities included tracking and recovering wildlife. Others played the role of watchdogs, reporting any suspicious activity to their human partners. Dogs were also quite helpful in preventing cattle or sheep from straying, assisting with transportation, and even giving warmth on particularly chilly evenings. Dogs started to form profound emotional relationships with their human companions in addition to the practical contributions they made. They went from being coworkers to becoming genuine friends and confidants throughout their time together. Dogs showed unflinching devotion, comforting their owners through times of need and sharing in the pleasure of daily life.
Ancient societies had a high regard for dogs, and they often included them in their artwork and mythology. Ancient Egyptians held dogs in high esteem as symbols of steadfastness and guardianship. The ancient Greeks connected them with several deities, including Artemis and Hermes, both of whom were often shown with devoted dogs at their sides. Throughout human history, dogs have been given important parts to play in many works of literature, folklore, and religious practices; this has further solidified their position as treasured animals.
The intimate connection that exists between people and dogs may teach us invaluable lessons about faithfulness, forgiveness, and the ability for love that is not conditional. Dogs are wonderful companions because they provide us with such unconditional love, solace at our lowest points, and steadfast support in our highest achievements. As we make our way through the difficulties of life, the relationship with our dogs shows the need to safeguard these extraordinary animals by showing them the love, respect, and care that they are due.
Whether you adopt a dog, provide it with a foster home, or ensure it is protected from harm on the street, you are making a difference in protecting and nurturing a relationship that goes back to the dawn of humankind and honouring one of the oldest and honoured relationships between man and animal.