In the Chauvet Cave of France you will find two sets of footprints… One set is from a 10 year old child, the other set is of his dog. They are 26,000 years old. We’ve been walking together ever since.
We domesticated the dog long before any other animal. He was with us soon after our arrival to the new worlds we migrated to, in the days before agriculture, when we were still hunting and gathering food. What is more, he is the only animal that we created a mutual partnership with. All other domesticated animals were forced into that position. Maybe that is why the dog holds a special place in our lives. We didn’t ask or demand, he came willingly with us. In fact, I’m not sure who domesticated who. To be sure we benefited from the friendship. Our dog friend led us to game, helped us bring it down, and protected us from danger.
But seeing it from a dogs perspective. He also found safety and security, warm fires on cold nights, and a hunting partner that could bring prey down quicker and faster than he could alone, along with a shared meal and scraps gained with no physical exertion. The shared friendship made life easier for both.
Over the years an odd thing happened though, we always looked to our dogs for protection, but eventually the dog started looking to us for the same thing. Needing each other created an even tighter bond and that bond eventually turned into a very physical, emotional and social link that would forever be tied. Today Man and dog are so interlinked that it would be impossible to separate them. They have become a part of each other.
Dogs have evolved to become more human. They have learned cognitive abilities from us, they have inherited our health problems and our eating habits and because of that their very chemical make up has changed. Researchers say that humans have more in common socially with the dog than with the chimpanzee and that dogs emotional and cognitive skills are akin to a 16 month old human. NBC News and their vocabulary of understood words is as many as 260, equivalent to a six year old child Rico. Which is amazing when you realize that a six year old child understands enough to start school and communicate ideas and concepts.
And we can feel the history when we’re with a dog. When you sit on a river bank, dog beside you, looking out at the world together, and he turns and looks you in the eye, it feels ancient. It feels as if you have known each other for lives long past your own. They have always been there, and some how we know that in our souls.
In our evolution we have imprinted a genetic memory of the dog, and the dog has a genetic memory of humans. It is a bond that can never be broken