Dogs are often called man’s best friend and not without reason. They have been our faithful companions for thousands of years, standing steadfast beside us, regardless of prosperity or hardship. Scientists used to believe that they were domesticated around 15,000 years ago but some archaeological evidence, as well as recent genetic research, point towards the bond being much older. Canine remains found in Siberia indicate the earliest domestications occuring between 30 and 40 thousand years ago, somewhere in Eastern Eurasia, around China, Mongolia or Siberia. It is believed that wolves started scavenging around human camps, searching for leftovers and in time they began to first trail and then travel together with the camps. Another theory suggests that early humans managed to steal wolf pups and raise them as pets, gradually domesticating them over generations. However, due to the nature of wolves and the way they behave in the wild, as well as in captivity, this theory seems more unlikely.
Regardless of the exact means of their domestication, over time these canines grew further and further apart from their wolf ancestors, developing traits like splotchy coats, curly tails, and floppy ears. They became accustomed to their human companions and an unprecedented symbiotic relationship took place. Scientists have shown that unlike wolves, whenever faced with an obstacle which they cannot overcome, dogs would actually turn to their human for assistance. This points not only to them being incredibly smart, but also acts as evidence on how good they are at picking up human social cues. Our brains have become so aligned, that whenever humans and dogs look into each other’s eyes, they both release a special chemical called oxytocin. This hormone has been linked to the way mammals form bonds, like between a mother and her child or between mates. However, dogs and humans are the only example, when such an interaction has been observed between different species. Their bond is so strong, that dog have actually been known to suffer from separation anxiety or become jealous if they see their human showing affection to another creature.
Throughout the centuries the relationship between humans and their fateful companions has proven to be of great benefit to both of them. On our part, we offer them security, shelter and a constant supply of food, while the dogs have proven to be invaluable in hunting and protecting our household. There are many traits, which make dogs so good at what they do, but none more so than their unique sense of smell. Each dog’s nose has its own unique pattern, much like our fingerprints and they are much more developed than our own. In fact, they are packed with 25 times more receptors than ours. Additionally, they are always damp, which helps them to absorb airborne particles better. In all, a dog has a sense of smell about 100,000 times more sensitive than any human. They are even able to pick up on the different hormones, associated with human emotions, which is why they are able to react so good to our moods and feelings. In some cases, they are even able to detect cancer. Some cancerous cells are known to produce different waste products than healthy ones and many dogs start to behave differently, as they notice that something is changing.
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