Wolves have been associated with human beings for a very long time and studies show that man first used wolves for food. Their bones were found alongside humans as far back as 400,000 years ago. Not all of them were wild, some were timid and knowing that food would be near human camps, started moving closer to the campfires. Gradually some of the more docile ones began to move with humans as part of a group and over time evolved into tame animals.
The fact that wolf packs and the early hunter organizations were built on the same lines fructified the existing relationship. Both the groups allowed themselves to be led by a leader and were willing to work together and cooperate with one another, unquestioningly. Humans started to adopt wolf pups and allowed them to grow and play in their midst and as a result, they were naturally tamer than their predecessors.
It was at this time that humans realized how helpful wolves could be; both worked together to hunt food and humans began to rely on wolves because they could detect prey easily. Moreover, because they were much faster than humans they were very useful in searching for wounded animals. Both became equal partners in these searches and the most cooperative wolves were favored by men—these were said to have puppy like characteristics.
Dogs apparently descended from wolves and they are said to be a product of “human selection rather than natural selection.” Scientists say that it was around the end of the last Ice Age—about 15,000 years ago, that this process actually began. As they lived close to man and associated with him- over time- their brains, head, teeth and body size evolved.
It was at this time (about 3,000-4,000 years ago) that humans wanted more specialized companions and different breeds began to emerge.
The Romans bred and trained hunting dogs and as breeding continued, herding dogs that worked with livestock, emerged. Hounds and sporting dogs for hunting were bred and another set of dogs also came into the picture—working dogs. This species performed many task such as guarding, hauling and even hunting rodents and vermin. Smaller breeds also made an entry and these were merely meant to be companions.
During the Civil War, dogs not only accompanied troops but were also used to stand guard. When world war I happened, dogs served many roles—they carried messages, searched for wounded soldiers, helped pull small ambulance carts, detected enemy forces and were a source of cheer and delight to soldiers in hospitals and at the front. Scout dogs were also doubled up to serve as security dogs, tracker dogs were used to hunt down the enemy and during this time, they were trained to detect mines also. The American war dogs helped expose hidden caches of weapons and in the early 1900s, dogs were also used to catch criminals.
Dogs and humans have such a long and varied relationship that each one began to depend on the other. These animals adapted so well to humans and proved to be such loyal companions that they cannot be apart. Dogs are man’s best friends and both understand each other well.
The wild, man-eating wolf was tamed, trained, became a domesticated animal and today the bond between humans and dogs is so strong that a man will do anything to save his dog and a dog will willingly stand by its owner.
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