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They've been referred to as "man's best friend" since... well, the beginning of time. But how often does man pause during this friendship to ponder why and where the origins of this loyal creature lie? While scientists cannot agree on conclusive information concerning our friend's beginning, certain aspects of their evolution have been established.

The relationship between Man and what was originally viewed as Beast, is suspected to date back about 10,000 years. However, at that time, Man could also have been considered a Beast, judging him by present societal terms. One might conjecture that perhaps it was this initial, primitive bond that bound the two. Evolving partners, companions to each other, paw in hand, hand in paw, growing through time together, simultaneously.

Yes, this is probably true. Dog assisted Man's survival during his "hunter/gatherer" stage, as guardian of his camp. But as man made his way into civilization, the dog helped him domesticate his farm animals (cows, pigs, sheep, and horses), possibly by doing a man's job (rounding/herding animals), using animal instincts and communication with the animals to help. The dog's ability to communicate with humans and other animals has helped Man tremendously in the taming and working of the land.

Some scientists speculate that the wolf was the first dog domesticated by civilized Man. Somehow, Dog was invited into the family circle of Man, somehow tamed, and metamorphosized into a house pet of sorts. It is speculated that perhaps the tamed wolf bred with some other, possibly unknown animal, to create a breed similar to what we know today as the Huskie dog or German Shepard.

This dog was traced back mostly to the companionship of the Assyrians, who were said to have developed large mastiff-like breeds for use in hunting and war.

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful:

Others think the oldest dog is the hound. The greyhound is said to have been domesticated 5,000 years ago by the Pharaoh's of Egypt, and essentially used "for show," as he sat at attention next to the throne. This is the only time the dog and Pharaoh were ever seen together. The two did not exercise the "best friend" relationship we are accostommed to nowdays.

The dog's only purpose was as a symbol of the Pharaoh's greatness, dominance, and wealth, which was to be envied by his people and competitors. Moreover, the dog represented the Pharaoh's agility and dominance in sport, an important and respected quality of Egyptian males, especially those of royalty.

The greyhound is recognized today as the fastest dog, and associated with sport, in a similar sense to the horse.

Long before being society's "fire dog", the Dalmation was depicted in paintings that date back 2,000 years. In these paintings, the dog is seen either sitting erect on its hind legs, or lying on its stomach, with its upper half perched at attention, next to a royal figure. Whether or not the dog was owned by the royal is unknown, as once again, the dog was only invited as a symbol of the subject's power and greatness. Depending upon the particular royal, he or she might also have wanted the dog's presence as a symbol of the type of loyalty that he or she expected from the subjects.

NEXT MONTH: Dogs During Biblical Times

.. / Issue 200 - August 2018
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