When you look at Fluffy, it is hard to imagine that he and all of his cousins were domesticated from wolves. Research by evolutionary geneticist Olaf Thalmann of Finland's University of Turku used DNA analysis techniques to determine the origins of the first tamed wolves. The researchers found that the DNA of modern dogs most closely matched that of ancient, now extinct, European wolves.
It was done on purpose. But you may wonder, how did the slow domestication of dogs go from big, violent, people eating predators to the Lhasa Apso sitting in your lap? Really, it isn’t too hard to imagine. Ancient man lived in a tough place… mean animals, bad weather, no Walmarts… they needed help.
Some kid somewhere found a litter of orphaned wolf puppies, (I think we saw this in Game of Thrones), begged to bring them home to their wattle and daub house, and as the puppies grew up, they helped in protection, companionship, and play, naturally in exchange for food and security. Then they had puppies who grew up and had puppies and voilà, the domesticated dog.
There are 197 domesticated dog breeds and 35 species of wild dogs. 69 million families in the US own at least one dog. But Dogs aren’t solely kept for hunters and protectors anymore, now they are part of the family. Emotionally, dogs are put on the same level as babies by the families that own them.
Dogs make us feel loved, and the experience of unconditional love makes us happy. Dogs make their owners more attractive to prospective friends and dates. A study found that out of 2,000 Americans surveyed, 39% swiped right on a person’s profile on dating apps simply because they wanted to meet their dog.
Dogs help us relieve stress, help us exercise, and keep us safe. Dog therapy is becoming a bigger part of medical and psychological care.
Ask any dog owner and they will tell you, their dog is part of their family, and just as important. And as my dog Spot likes to say, with his tail wagging as hard as it can, “woof woof, woof, woof-woof.” (Okay, I don't really have a dog, I made that part up, but if I did, I'm sure that is what he would say).
And that, my friends, says it all.