The Domestic Dog

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The domestic dog, Canis familiaris, is one of the most diverse mammal species knows. This species can be found nearly everywhere, with separate breeds originating from every continent, except Antarctica. However, as widely distributed as this species is, little is known about its actual origin. Scientists have been able to track some lineages down through fossil records and genetic data. But it is undetermined how exactly old this species is, or even where this domestic dog may have started at. So, how is it that humans are not as familiar with “man’s best friend” as we are with many other species? Surely, there had to have been some record of when humans began to domesticate dogs, or other canids for that matter. It’s nearly impossible to do a whole day without witnessing a dog, whether it is on your commute to work and someone is walking their faithful companion, or it watching your favorite TV show and a commercial advertising the latest trend in dog food comes on. Constantly we are bombarded with images of a man and his dog. This species has arguably had one of the largest impacts on humans. But these loveable housemates of ours were not once what we now know them to be. Dogs have evolved immensely over time along-side humans.
Dogs can be looked at in a many of ways, some people fear them, see them only as dangerous and dirty. The canine reputation as being vicious is not a recent fear. However, nowadays you often hear of a child being attacked by a dog somewhere in media and it’s often blown out of proportion. “Recent levels of media attention given to dog attacks on people…may be out of proportion to the actual risk they pose to the average individual” (Serpell, 1995). It’s true that many people fear dogs, they are viewed...

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...cally similar to its ancestral lineage. It’s possible that we owe our own evolution to dogs. Humans were able to develop tools such as arrows and new hunting developments with the accompaniment of a canid companion by their side to aid in hunts. If a dog was not as easily genetically modified, would it be safe to say that they would still be our companions, our “best friend”. Could it be that dogs are merely tools of our own development, and we treasure the fact that they are so easily morphed? However, without any question, dogs are no longer the wild untamable wolf that they once were. Now, traits derived from the wild and wicked wolf lay dormant in our companion, the one that lies so peacefully at our feet. Although it’s not easily traceable as to when dogs became apparent in human lives, it’s safe to say that most humans are rather glad they, dogs, are here.
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