As we approach the Christmas season, let’s take a moment to be thankful for one of our greatest gifts, our dogs. There’s simply no other animal on earth that we love as much. Dogs are unique, in the position they’ve taken in our hearts and minds. From that mythical wolf club thousands of years ago, who captured the imagination of that Neanderthal by the fire, dogs have grown to be an integral part of our lives. And for that gift, we’re truly thankful. No wonder we call them ‘man’s best friend’ and warn our friends and family, ‘must love dogs.’
He’s the funniest little guy I’ve ever met. The way he picks up random objects and tries to hide them, physically sits on a kitchen chair and eventually makes his way up to sitting on the table. He just does the funniest things.
Humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans.
Rock art depicting man hunting with dogs. Tadrart Acacus, Libya. An early cave painting in Libya of dogs chasing a deer in the Akakus Mountains. Photo courtesy of Peter Boekamp and the Bradshaw Foundation.
Why are humans and dogs so good at living together?
According to Psychology Today, dogs have a special chemistry with humans that goes back many tens of thousands of years. Researchers investigated this special evolutionary relationship from a number of different angles. Their results are surprising.
Domestic dogs are descended from wolves so recently that they remain wolves in all biological essentials, including their social behavior. Wolf packs have some intriguing parallels with human families:
They are territorial.
They hunt cooperatively.
Pack members are emotionally bonded and greet each other enthusiastically after they have been separated.
Dogs are extraordinarily attentive and have an uncanny ability to predict what their owners will do, whether getting the dog a meal or preparing to go on a walk. Experiments show that dogs and wolves can be astute readers of human body language using the direction of our gaze to locate hidden food a problem that is beyond chimps.
Dogs also seem attuned to the emotional state of their masters and express contrition when the owner is annoyed, for example. Otherwise, the capacity to express affection – unconditionally – makes the dog a valued “family member.”
Dogs acted as human’s alarm systems, trackers, and hunting aides, garbage disposal facilities, hot water bottles, and children’s guardians and playmates. Humans provided dogs with food and security. The relationship was stable over 100,000 years or so.
I have never felt forever love like this before. He makes me feel like his favorite person in the world every single day. Just the look in his eyes and his excitement when he sees me always makes my heart happy.
When humans pet dogs, their bodies release oxytocin, a hormone associated with not only happiness, but bonding and affection as well.
- from a study conducted by J.S.J Odendaal in 2003
10 Things Your Dog Would Tell You
1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years. Any separation from you will be painful: remember that before you get me.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me – it is crucial to my well being.
4. Do not be angry at me for long, and do not lock me up as punishment.
5. You have your work, your entertainment, and your friends. I only have you.
6. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don’t understands your words, I understand your voice when it is speaking to me.
7. Be aware that how ever you treat me, I will never forget.
8. Remember before you hit me that I have teeth that could easily hurt you, but I choose not to bite you because I love you.
9. Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate,or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I might not be getting the right food, or I have been out too long, or my heart is getting too old and weak.
10. Take care of me when I get old; you too will grow old. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say: “I cannot bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there, even my death. Remember that I love you.