Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dog Love

I first started a blog a year and a half ago in order to join in the fun tablescape parties that I saw in blogland.  I loved the creativity of planning new tablescapes and sharing the pics with other dish lovers out there.  But in the back of my mind, I always knew I'd want to include other topics in my blog, like travel, decorating, family, books, and...pets.

Back in the spring, I spotted this magazine when Hubby and I were in Barnes and Noble, and after looking through it, I decided to purchase it.

It has some really interesting information about how the dogs we know and love as house pets and companions, working farm dogs, and service dogs came to be just that.  Because you see, the dogs we know today, in their varied shapes and sizes, all descended originally from wolves.

"... did we set out to turn wolves soft, or did dogs tame us?  No doubt there was some growling and biting on both sides.  But lately scientists favor this scenario:  The expert four-legged hunters took the initiative, scavenging -- skittish at first, then bolder -- on the scraps of human settlements.  The most fearless survived the longest, and natural selection did the rest.  In the process, dog skulls, snouts, and teeth got smaller as handouts replaced the hunt.  According to a researcher at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, 'Domestication was a natural speciation event, not a human accomplishment like harnessing the power of fire'."  (Source:  "Dogs, Forever at Our Side," by Jennifer S. Holland, National Geographic Special Edition Spring Issue)

It would seem that our beloved dogs, evolved over thousands of years from camp-following wolves.  But they are not descended from the big, furry wolves that we see in zoos (and in movies).  Those wolves are typically from the frozen north -- the Russian, Scandinavian, and Canadian timber wolves.  These beasts are huge and thick-coated, and adapted to the coldest area of the original wolf range.  Dogs are believed to have developed from the smaller, less stocky and not so heavily furred Asiatic or Middle Eastern wolf, which was common in warmer parts of the range of the species.  (Source:  "Dogwatching," by Desmond Morris)

"Dogwatching" is a book we've had for many years, and it also contains some fascinating information about the evolution of dogs, and why they do the things they do.  It also explains the reason early man bonded with wolves and not, for example, monkeys or bears.  "It is clear that it was the great similarity between the social life of wolves and early men that led to the tight bond of attachment that grew up between them.  Both species lived in "packs" in a defended group territory."  ("Dogwatching," Desmond Morris) 

I don't mean to bore you with too much scientific research, but I find it fascinating to learn how the bond between humans and dogs came about.  I realize that dogs are not people and as such, they do not fulfill the same needs and roles in our lives as people do.  But I firmly believe that God made them the way they are to inhabit a different (and special) place in our lives.  We would never put our dog's welfare above that of our son or any other member of our family, even though he is a part of our family.

There are so many things I could write about the ways that dogs interact with, and assist, humans in many parts of the world.  They are valuable in the K-9 units of police and sheriff's departments; as search and rescue dogs; they save so many soldiers' lives on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan; they provide therapy to residents of nursing homes.  And they provide faithful companionship to ordinary people like me.

I had intended to do this post back in the spring when I bought the National Geographic magazine, but I kept getting busy with other things.  And the reason I'm writing it today, is that our beloved MacDuff is sick, and I'm very concerned about him.  He behaved this way once before when he lost a tooth about a year ago.  But he seems different this time; and deep inside, I'm afraid, because he's 12 years old.  He's the third Scottie I've had during my lifetime, and he's lived longer than any of them.

I've known for a while now that he probably won't be with us too much longer.  But that knowledge is not an easy thing to deal with.  Our vet can't see him until later this afternoon, so I won't know anything for a bit.  I really hope it's just a loose tooth, but I'm trying to prepare myself in case it's something worse.  Please forgive me for running on so much longer than I intended; somehow, it's helped me to pass the hours of waiting to write about dogs.  Someday soon, I'll write about MacDuff, but first I'll have to see what's in store for us today.

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