Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dogs — Nothing Quite Like Them

Did you ever stop to think that the only domesticated animals that accompany us everywhere are dogs? Humanity and dogs live in association all over both hemispheres. And in close association, it seems. We have lots of domesticated animals, but compared to dogs they're all very recent and, frankly, aloof. Bob Wallace tells us just how long this seems to have been going on:

"Dog Ancestors Were Ice Age Man's Best Friend"

From The Telegraph:

"The bond between dogs and humans was forged in Ice Age Europe and is thousands of years older than previously thought, a study suggests."

Dogs first became man's best friend in Ice Age Europe up to between 19,000 and 32,000 years ago, scientists have discovered.

Genetic evidence analyzed by Finnish researchers found that the wolf ancestors of modern dogs were most likely tamed by hunter-gatherers thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

The findings, published in the Science journal, contradict an earlier belief that dogs were domesticated in eastern Asia after the origin of farming about 15,000 years ago.

Researchers from universities in Finland and Germany studied the DNA of various modern breeds of dog, wolf and coyote and compared it against samples from fossils of ancient wolf-like and dog-like animals.

They found that DNA from domestic dogs was most closely related to that of ancient European wolves as well as modern wolves, and there were few similarities with wolves, coyotes and dingos from other parts of the world.

It was previously thought that humans and dogs most likely forged a bond after the beginning of agriculture, when dogs may have been attracted by a plentiful food supply.

But the new findings suggest the canines may have sought out the camp sites of fur-clad hunter-gatherers in the hope of scavenging leftover meat and been tamed to help with hunting or protection against predators.

The scientists wrote: "Conceivably, proto-dogs might have taken advantage of carcasses left on site by early hunters, assisted in the capture of prey, or provided defense from large competing predators at kills."

Olaf Thalmann of the University of Turku in Finland, who led the study, said: "I was amazed how clearly [the findings] showed that all dogs living today go back to four genetic lineages, all of which originate in Europe."

And more on this from National Geographic.

And then we have:

The Power of the Dog
Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


  1. I've nearly memorized that poem. Kipling understood.

  2. Look at my FB picture. No further comment.