I Do Not Trust People Who Do Not Like Dogs
I do not trust people who do not like dogs because it goes against 30,000 years of evolution. After watching everyone I know post pictures of their pups for National Dog Day, I thought about our collective relationship with our best friends. I can’t help but wonder about the generations of people and dogs that have enjoyed each other’s company over thousands of years. This idea sent me down a rabbit hole about how that relationship came to be. Who was the first person to look into a wolf’s eyes and make that leap? Was is one person and one wolf? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? Whatever the reasons, man’s best friend is truly a unique relationship.
When It All Started
According to Boehringer-Ingelheim, there is evidence of domesticated dogs dating back to over the 30,000 year ago. To put that number into perspective, that was about 18,000 years before the end of the Pleistocene era (the Ice age), which is roughly about when humans started farming. That means we were hanging around with wolves/dogs for 18,000 years before we even learned how to grow our own food.
There are burial sites all over Europe and Asia containing both dogs and humans, showing the intimate history our two species has shared over 30 millennia. One site in particular located in the Czech Republic dates back 31,500 years, and contains several canid skulls, one of which has a bone carefully placed in its mouth. Well before we were riding horses, we were sending man’s best friend into the afterlife with their favorite toys.
Why It Happened?
While the “Why” is one of the most debated questions on the subject, there is an interesting perspective that it was actually the wolves that domesticated themselves. Let that sink in for a second. Maybe it was not that dogs became Man’s Best Friend, but man became Dog’s Best Friend.
The theory is based on the ‘survival of the friendliest.” The humans of 30,000 years ago were hard people. They did not have the luxury of going on a diet or cutting back. They truly only ate what they killed, and they would have seen wolves as competition for that vital protein.
Some people believe that we used wolves for hunting, but as National Geographic points out, if you’ve ever seen a wolf feeding frenzy, most wolves are not keen on sharing. I even tell my kids today not to bother the dogs while they are eating for fear of getting their finger bit. 30,000 years of evolution, and the we still see lines of instinct traced throughout.
As the article goes on to point out, “survival of the friendliest” refers to the wolves that were bold enough to approach human settlements, but friendly and cute enough for humans not to kill them. An aggressive wolf would be seen as competition, while a friendly one would could become an ally. This gave those wolves access to the scraps of food at a human settlement. And so, the birth of “Puppy Dog Eyes!”
A Mutual Benefit
The fascinating part occurs with the changes that occurred in these wolves/dogs as they started breeding and splitting from their original wolf line. Sure, there are the obvious physical changes that we see on any dog today; floppy ears, spotted coats, etc. But the more interesting change is in our dogs’ ability to read our emotions and gestures. This can be simply tossing a ball or as complex as a working dog reading his handler’s subtle gestures. Check this guys out.
Our dogs have even become more adept at interpreting non-verbal communication than our closest primate relatives. Subtle movements like the way we stand can send signals to our dogs about what we are thinking at that time. I was once standing in a parking lot with both of my dogs and was approached, fairly aggressively, by a women asking to pet my dogs. She clearly had no understanding of canines, and as I slightly tensed from the situation, my pups barked and furrowed their brows. I simply said “I don’t think they want to be pet.”
This was a strange woman that posed no real threat, but that subtle communication has helped both species for thousands of years. It becomes an early warning system for when there is actual danger. I regularly walk at night and can see when my dogs’ demeanor instantly changes. Sure enough there had been another person walking around the corner in the dark, and we see coyotes walking about from time to time. The point is that both species thrive from the relationship more than any other cross species pair on the planet.
I Would Rather Hang Out With Dogs
And so for 30,000 years we built this mutually beneficial relationship that repeats itself over and over again. My own two dogs are asleep at my feet as I type and drink coffee. We each bring the other comfort and companionship, protection and loyalty. So in the end, who would I rather hang out with; my dogs or people who don’t like them? The answer is simple. I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs.