When little FiFi rests gently on your lap, it is so easy to forget that this cute dog is related to the Wolf family. All the domesticated dogs around today, no matter what breed they are, have their origins in the Wolf family. Their closest ancestors are the coyote, jackal and wolf family of animals. Dogs also have a more distant link to other wild dogs and foxes.
The early dogs gathered together to hunt in packs. This was their best chance of survival and it worked. As Man developed these packs of dogs where attracted to the areas where Man had set up camp.
Such camps or settlements would include a few families and the dogs were able to scavenge for extra food and warmth. It is thought that a small number of cubs may have been brought into the settlement and raised by the people who lived there. This could have been as the cubs were orphaned.
Whatever happened, the relationship began.
These semi wild dogs were useful in assisting with hunting for live food, eating discarded food left around the area and guarding the settlement. It is also possible that when food was scarce these dogs became food themselves for their human companions.
Dogs evolved over time and Man played a part. Dogs were breed to satisfy the requirements of the settlement. With time, this selective breeding led to distinct breeds.
Therefore, it would seem that man has had a distinct relationship with dogs for many years. Dogs have been companions and working animals for centuries. Of course, over the years this relationship has changed somewhat, and dogs have adapted.
With man less of a hunter-gatherer these days and people in general enjoying a more sedentary lifestyle, dogs are kept more as a pet than as a working animal. However, there are still working dogs such as sheep dogs which are usually Collies, and guard-dogs which may be Alsatians or as they are also known German Shepherd dogs.
Man's fascination and love of his four-legged friend, his dog, has meant that there are now kennel clubs around the world, dog shows and various thoroughbred or pedigree animals. Unfortunately, pedigree dogs often have associated health problems, which are bred into the particular breed, due to kennel club demands.
Unbelievably there are around seven or eight hundred different breeds of dog around the world. Some are specific to one particular country or region and so may be unheard off in say the USA or the UK.
Until recent years, the UK had strict regulations regarding the movement of dogs from other countries, in order to prevent the spread of Rabies to its shores. These measures worked and the UK remained Rabies free, Currently these regulations have been relaxed a little and it is possible for dogs in the UK to be examined and passed fit for travel. They actually are given a passport, which contains proof of their fitness. These restrictions though had meant that the more unusual breed of dog had not been seen in the UK.
Much as people love their dogs, many of these animals are abused and neglected around the world. Sometimes this is due to ignorance but, more often than not, it is just cruelty. Dogs are still eaten in some countries and, in such places, are seldom euthanized humanely first. The struggle goes on to stop such practices. Check out the World Wildlife Fund for information on how you can help.
With the neglect of dogs on the increase, there are always far too many dogs in rescue centres, waiting to be re-homed. These dogs often make lovely pets but they may have poor health over the years, depending on the maltreatment, which they have received in the past.
Overall dogs make great companions. They are loyal, obedient once trained, fun, will help guard and protect you and your home and will make a faithful friend for many years. Is it any wonder that dogs are called, Man's Best Friend?