Friday, November 15, 2013

Old Dogs, New Tricks

A genetic study of ancient canine bones shows that dogs became domesticated in Europe anywhere from 18,800 to 32,100 years ago. Most likely this transition happened when wolves started hanging around humans in hopes of scoring leftovers from a mammoth (in both senses of the word) kill.

Why does this not surprise me? 

Listening to a radio report of this study  — and then reading about it in the morning newspaper — I'm struck once again by this point: that dogs are still the only large carnivore to be domesticated.

I think about Copper, so loving, so cute. Able to sit on his haunches and beg for food. Clever enough to know that if he sits there long enough he may get a treat.

The human-canine bond is a profound and mysterious one, but at times it is a fragile one. I've seen Copper snap when he feels cornered, challenged. I've seen the wolf inside him. But still I hug him, pet him, treat him increasingly more like a child.

It's comforting to know that this has been going on for tens of thousands of years.

(Photo: Claire Cassidy Capehart)


blogger counters