How Did Dogs Become Man’s Best Friend?
For many people, it is hard to imagine our lives without a furry best friend. Yes, dogs do have a way of working themselves into the hearts of their owners. There have been studies done that show both dogs and humans release a hormone called oxytocin when they look into each other’s eyes. This is an indication that the strong connection with dogs is reciprocated. While many dog owners take it for granted that their fuzzy pooch is their best friend, few stop and wonder how it all began. The journey to this strong bond is one that is filled with a bit of mystery.
The Long Road to Domestication Begins
Dogs weren’t always the loyal companions people have grown to love. Before they were domesticated, the ancestors of today’s dogs were wolves. They were wild and hunted their food. Some believe that climate change may have caused some of the food sources for these wolves to dry up. Because they were hungry and low on options, these wolves started to encroach on human encampments to scavenge for leftover meat scraps.
Since the human beings of the day were nomadic in nature, the wolves would follow when the camp would move. Eventually, the ancient humans and wolves became familiar with each other and the process of domestication started. Turning these wild wolves into faithful companions wasn’t an overnight endeavour. A study done by Russian scientist, Dmitri K. Belyaev, showed that the domestication process can take anywhere from six to eight generations to be complete.
When and Where Did This Occur?
There is some conjecture over when and where the domestication of dogs happened, but it could have occurred up to 40,000 years ago. Some studies seem to link this process to the areas of the Middle East, China, and Eastern Europe.
It is known that there were areas of the world where dog ownership was considered a status of wealth and power. Egyptian pharaohs, Roman nobles, and Chinese emperors were all shown to have dogs as companions. In the west, dog ownership was also a sign of prestige, with high-born ladies having pooches as pets. Many European men preferred to have dogs that served a practical purpose, like hunting.
The Faithful Companion
Although the journey to becoming pets has been a long one, dogs and humans are now forever linked. It is clear that the bond that has taken thousands of years to form is a strong one that will stand the test of time.