The first domesticated wolves appeared about 15,000 years ago in the Middle East, but new research suggests it was much earlier. Pontus Skoglund, a Swedish geneticist, published a paper on discovering a 35,000-year-old Siberian wolf bone. He concluded that dog domestication began between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago. Several researchers believed that domesticated dogs originated in China, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. According to archeologist and geneticist Greger Larson, gray wolves were domesticated by humans somewhere in western Eurasia. At this same time, He suggests that the domestication of wolves started in the East, which scientists convince wolves attracted to human camps to scavenge for discarded food.
Dr. Stephen L. Zawistowski, emeritus research consultant for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), stated that wolves started traveling with nomadic humans over time which caused domestication to occur. Katherine Rogers shared that women started petting the wolves in his book, First Mate. Domesticating a dog takes six to eight generations, according to a 40-year experiment conducted by Russian researcher Dmitri K. Belyaev in the late 1950s. Empirical evidence also confirms the relationship between humans and dogs.
When two people look into each other's eyes, oxytocin is released, and they emotionally bond. According to a study led by Nagasawa, when dogs and people look into each other's eyes, humans and dogs shared the same experience when looking at one another. There are several dog breeds and varied popularity. In the 1890s, people love to breed Saint Bernards, but since the 1990s, Labrador Retrievers became popular.
We are unsure when the human and dog relationship began, but some archeologists dig up a human and dog bone intertwined about 14,000 years ago. Some unconfirmed findings claimed it is twice as old. It shows that a human and dog relationship existed that a human chose to buried with them. Our interspecies relation has a genetic relevance to it. Dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their mitochondrial DNA, which a genetic material passed down exclusively from the mother. It makes them almost indistinguishable. However, there are a few genetic shards strewn across the genome that make a big difference. On chromosome 6, researchers discovered three genes that code for hyper-sociability. These genes enable dogs to have a similar sweetness to humans.
Our forefathers had no idea what genes were thousands of years ago. They did know that one or two of the midsize scavengers with long muzzles who came nosing around their campfires would look at them like they need attentiveness and care. Our forefathers had a hard time ignoring them. So, they called the few that came in from the cold puppies, while the animals' immediate relatives who didn't have the good genes were left to fend for themselves in their natural habitats like the wolves, jackals, coyotes, and dingoes.
Humans and dogs shared a special bond of friendship and mutual support since at least the Neolithic period. This bond existed for at least 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, at least in Europe. Why has this bond lasted so long? Dogs keep us company and protect us and our belongings. They secured and safeguarded our homes, livestock, and other valuables. Throughout history, humans have trained dogs to assist them in hunting.
People bred have bred several strange-looking dogs. We cherished our dogs as loyal companions, known for their devotion and near-constant ability to bring a smile to their owners' faces. Some research says that our dogs make us happier, more versatile when dealing with stress, and mentally healthier, to name a few benefits. In the studies published by the University of Missouri in Columbia and Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK, they found out walking our dogs offers (forced) exercise to us.
Dogs increase our well-being even before we are born. Pregnant mothers that spend time with dogs during pregnancy have a lower chance of their children developing eczema in early childhood. Children exposed to bacteria carried by dogs had fewer asthma symptoms. Dogs make us happy and give us feel-good vibes, which the most obvious benefit of sharing our life and home with a canine friend. Even when we had a hard day at work, we can't help but smile when they greeted us at our home's doorstep.
Animal help in therapy, education, and care has dramatically increased over the last decades. When we interact with dogs, our oxytocin levels rise. Hence it is the hormone responsible for social bonding; our relationship with dogs is a hormonal love shot that improves our psychological well-being. Dogs can help with depression and make people more resilient to stress. As a result, there are several service dogs used in therapy. A Duke University researcher Brian Hare said that dogs make people feel comfortable. He added that dogs help us to feel better in stressful circumstances.
Therapy dogs enhance the psychological well-being of children who are receiving cancer treatment. Dogs alleviate the disruptive symptoms and arising of PTSD episodes in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our canine companions may be able to provide us with clues and open up new research avenues when it comes to clinical trials involving our health problems. Dogs shared some metabolic diseases of humans, such as obesity, as revealed by MNT. We can understand the gut microbiota of dogs, and how food impacts it will help us better understand how to handle our eating habits.
Cancer can infect dogs too. A dog can develop brain tumors that cause a similar devastating experience to humans. We can learn and figure out which genes predispose our canine friends to gliomas may aid cancer research in humans. Furthermore, a viral form of canine cancer may shed light on the evolution of human cancers. Dementia in dogs can manifest in a variety of ways, including reduced problem-solving abilities. We may solve dementia in humans by understanding how cognitive tasks are affected in dogs. Dogs aren't just loyal companions but can help us with our health and understand our health.
Dogs are lovable and always funny companions whose antics are continually feeding the memes on the internet. They also keep us physically fit. Furthermore, their health conditions, though tragic, are also endearingly close to ours. Most importantly, we have welcomed them into our lives since the beginning of time because they instantly bring us joy that we would otherwise have to work hard for it.
Note: The cover image is created by the author using Canva.
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