It’s only fitting that National Dog Day falls within August and the “dog days of summer.” So as your pooch is panting to stay cool, here are some interesting facts about how dogs became human companions.
Scientists have done extensive research on the genetics of today’s dogs, wolves and DNA of their ancestors. Their findings show that our pooches came from one extinct species, which lived nearly 32,000-18,000 years ago.
While scientists may agree that a single ancient dog/wolf was the first domesticated dog, they don’t agree on where humans and dogs became companions. Some evidence shows that in the Ice Age dogs helped the hunters and gatherers in Europe. Other evidence shows dogs as companions in the Middle East. Archaeologists uncovered a 12,000-year-old burial site with a man cradling a puppy. Others have found evidence that dogs were domesticated in Asia as an agricultural food source.
So why does a Chihuahua look nothing like a Great Dane? Interbreeding between dog types and modern day wolves has occurred for thousands of years making it even harder for scientists to detect exactly where dogs came from. And over the thousands of years humans have stepped in and bred dogs based on desired characteristics creating the perfect personality for different types of jobs.
If we look at ancient history dogs have been a meaningful symbol in many cultures. From Egypt, we know that the dog was a highly regarded creature and when a dog would die a family would mummify the animal and often masters and canines were buried together. Even Roman Laws provided for dog owners and show us that humans have long valued the jobs and certain traits of dogs. A writer, Varro, says “Every family should have two types of dogs, a hunting dog and a watchdog.” He also showed an affinity for white dogs stating that you could distinguish them better in the darkness.
In Colonial America dogs served as companions and workers just as they had in England. Hounds helped out in a fox hunt, a bulldog guarded the Virginia Governor’s palace, and Pomeranians were simply companions. Even George Washington was in search of the perfect hunting companion and his selective breeding of the most superior dogs at Mount Vernon lead to the American Fox Hound which is slightly lighter and taller than the British version.
Today the American Kennel Club has registered over 5,000,000 and 150 different breeds. Countless dogs of all varieties are companions and workers throughout the world. From service dogs helping their owners to do daily activities to ranch dogs that continue to herd a flock humans are dependent on our four-legged friends. So celebrate this day by giving your furry friend lots of petting, cuddling and maybe an extra treat!
If you don’t have a dog read about them. Here is a few of Arbordale’s top dogs.
When – and where – did dogs first become our pets?, Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/14/science/la-sci-sn-dogs-domesticated-in-europe-20131114
Dogs Not as Close to Kin to Wolves as Thought, Discovery News: http://news.discovery.com/animals/pets/dogs-not-as-close-kin-to-wolves-as-thought-140116.htm
Dogs in the Ancient World, Ancient History Encyclopedia: http://www.ancient.eu/article/184/
The Eighteenth Century Goes to the Dogs, Colonial Williamsburg: http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Autumn04/dogs.cfm
American Kennel Club: http://www.akc.org/?nav=classichome