Animal’s Hump Day Doggone News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

It’s amazing what ten hours of sleep will do, even in a hotel room bed.  My outlook is immensely improved, and in two more days and a wake-up I’ll be off to actually spend two weeks in my own house.

Any of you True Believers have a dog?  I had a dog in a million.  Gypsy was a great bird dog, an English Springer Spaniel from field trial lines.  She was a great hunting partner and family pet.  She died in 1999 and I still miss her.  Making things worse, my traveling lifestyle makes having a gun dog impractical now.

But that just makes this more interesting.  It seems Gyp’s ancestors were first partnering up with people over 30,000 years ago.  Excerpt:

All dogs alive today can trace at least some of their ancestry back to dogs that were domesticated 33,000 years ago in southern East Asia, suggests one of the most extensive ever investigations of canine DNA.

In addition to pinpointing the place and time for the earliest dog domestication, the new study, published in the journal Cell Research, found that the first domesticated dogs descended from grey wolves that likely came from China.

The research, conducted by an international team, further determined that dogs began to migrate out of East Asia and towards the Middle East and Africa 15,000 years ago. They then reached Europe in large numbers approximately 10,000 years ago. It appears that the dogs self-initiated the moves.

“For some reason, dogs stayed around East Asia for a long time before their migration out of Asia,” senior author Ya-Ping Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Kunming Institute of Zoology told Discovery News. “We speculated that the glacial period might have been the environmental factor that prevented dogs from migrating out of Asia.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise to any current or former dog owner that the canine species was among the first to form a domestic attachment to mankind.  The human/dog relationship is like no other.  Cats are only marginally civilized, having probably taken up with humans because, back in the Stone Age, messy human campsites attracted vermin, which attracted cats, who kept down the vermin and were protected – more or less – by humans.

Gypsy in her favorite surroundings.
Gypsy in her favorite surroundings.

But the dog has always been different.  Other animals provide food and leather or fur; they carry our burdens, they keep our living spaces free of pests.  But the dog is different.  The dog is our partner; the dog lives and works with Man not because they have to but because they want to.

It’s not coincidence that we know them as Man’s Best Friend.