We have all heard the term “Man’s best friend” and we immediately know who it refers to: dogs. It seems the term has been around as far as anyone can remember. To find why dogs have earned this title, we must go back to the first instance of the species. The earliest dog remains were found to be about 32,000 years old. They were not Man’s best friend at first, and it took them a while to team up with their human counterparts. It is a long time later, only about 16,000 years ago, that dogs were found to be bread and in captivity. The first signs of captive dogs were found in that time in southern China. Most were bread for help with farming or hunting.
Although this is the first instance of dogs being kept as pets, most people believe that this was not the only place where dogs were tamed. All over the world there is evidence of people taming dogs. From North America to Asia, dogs gathered close to camps and small villages and people took them in. Most intended to use them for help with daily activities, but from the evidence of dog funerals and burial grounds, they came to take on the much more significant role of companion.
Why dogs? dogs are not the only animal that were used to help early and current human beings. Oxen, horses, and many other species were tamed and pressed into service, but only dogs were given the title of Man’s best friend. The reason for this is companionship. If we look at dogs’ ancestors, the wolves, you will find that dogs and wolves share over 99% of the same genes, but one of the key differences between the species is how they interact with other animals of the same species. Wolves have a loner mentality, they don’t rely on each other or have any type of social constructs. Even though they have packs, most don’t see members of the same pack for years, and when they do, they fight for supremacy. Dogs, on the other hand, are classified as one of the few species of social animals. Social animals are able to interact with each other in order to build relationships. A dog pack is very interactive with one another.
Some other social animals are dolphins, swans, and, you guessed it, humans. Social animals share the some of same traits, for example, swans usually have one lifelong mate that they will take, similar to marriage. The two main traits that humans and dogs share are companionship and loyalty. These two traits were evident even in early dogs and this endeared them to their human counterparts. throughout the years this bond between the two species has only grown stronger and stronger to where we can see all kinds relationships between dogs and people today, from guide dogs, to police dogs, to the dog who is probably sitting at your feet right now. Dogs have earned the title “Man’s best friend” and they will not let go of it anytime soon.