What working qualities of a dog does man need and for what purpose? What natural instincts of a dog has human changed in order to benefit from its useful attributes and capabilities?
Dog and man have lived together for hundreds of years. A dog is a man’s friend but has it always been this way? When did humans begin to bond with a dog? What made they do it? To what end?
Working qualities of a dog
Dogs have helped humans since ancient times. The use of dogs has changed over time. At first, they helped humans to hunt, graze herds, and guard their home. But then the dogs mastered more complex tasks. Now man’s faithful friend can be guides for the blind, rescuers, search dogs, they can participate with their owner in various competitions and much more.
Analogy with wolves
Humans and wolves found a common language very quickly, because they both have the same social structure and, in general, a common mental organization. Wolves live in pairs, but during the hunt, the whole flock gathers under the leadership of the leader. Their duties are strictly distributed with one wolf going out on the trail, the other blocks the way for future prey, and the bravest ones attack.
When attacking a herd, the duty of one of the wolves is to cut off future prey from other animals in the herd. The leader eats first. The rest of the pack can start eating only after he is full.
Perhaps people who lived in more or less isolated communities threw bones and remnants of food to hungry wolves prowling around the settlement. Gradually, the wolves realized that man possessed more advanced weapons such as stone tools, arrows and traps. They felt his superiority as a hunter and began to perceive a man as a leader, accompanying him at a distance on hunts and returning with him to the village to get their share of the prey.
Hunting and protection qualities of a dog
Wherever, in order to survive, it was necessary to hunt or to protect oneself from uninvited guests, humans used dogs, constantly improving and creating new breeds and providing them with proper care and nutrition.
Even before the modern world era, wolf-like and Egyptian dogs, as well as Persian Molossian Great Danes, served the Greeks. The Greek philosopher and zoologist Aristotle mentioned in his writings that dogs lived with him, dividing them into breeds according to the names of the places where they originated.
Thanks to him, we know that in 300 BC. e. there were already dogs living in India, Egypt and Epirus (northwest Greece). However, the author did not leave us with accurate description and details, so we cannot imagine what they really looked like.
Hunting dogs were also highly prized in ancient Rome. Ovid wrote about how to make sure a bitch has good puppies. And the writer Varron provided the first set of recommendations to novice dog breeders. In particular, he wrote that you should not trust dogs that eat scraps. He believed that from this they get used to the taste of blood and then they can attack living animals. The Greek Oppian, the author of the book “Kinegetics” (“Hunting”), himself was engaged in breeding small dogs, which, in his opinion, were more suitable for hunting in the forest.
Going back 2,000 years ago
Thus, it can be argued that already two thousand years ago, people had an interest, and perhaps love, for dogs. In Pompeii, houses were marked with signs that read “Cave Canem” (Caution, angry dog), which proves that guard dogs were kept there. Usually, they used fierce Molossian Great Danes of huge size and frightening teeth to this end. During the day they were being chained and at night they were released, and they would walk around the property belonging to the owner. It was fashionable to keep ferocious animals in or around the house.
It can be assumed that over time, man began to tame wolf cubs, as a result of which, after several generations, wolves appeared and took part in hunting activities no longer as observers, but also as helpers.
To tame a horse, deer or elephant, a person had to first catch them, put them in a cage and suppress their will by force. The dog, on the other hand, became the only animal that submitted to human power without much resistance. It was a friendship on equal terms, based on mutual interest, i.e. hunting.
In some remote villages in Paraguay and Peru, motherless puppies are still being fed by women. Similar cases probably took place at the very beginning of human-dog contact, which could play a significant role in strengthening the friendship.
Qualities of a dog used during war time
Since ancient days, dogs have been used in war times. So, the Romans had liaison and fighting dogs. For defense and attack, Molossian dogs were used, which had powerful fangs. They put metal collars around their necks with blades sticking out in all directions. At the sight of such dogs, the enemy often ran away without even entering the battle.
But the worst of all was the so-called connected dogs. Military orders were placed in a small copper cylinder, which was swallowed by a dog. When the dog arrived at his destination, there was often no time to wait for the cylinder to come out naturally, so the unsuspecting messenger had to be killed and opened up.
In the first decades after the fall of the Roman Empire, during the invasion of the barbarians, dogs were forgotten, and they returned to their primitive state. Fierce packs of hungry dogs that accompanied the conquerors began to scour the cities and villages.
Qualities of a dog: a final word
True, in the Middle Ages, dogs, unlike cats, were not accused of witchcraft and connections with the devil. However, during this period, they disgusted people. Perhaps it was then that expressions such as “tired as a dog”, “dog life”, and “son of a bitch” appeared.
And yet, in the Middle Ages, dogs remained at the service of humans thanks to hunting needs. When hunger came, a person, in order to somehow diversify the “diet”, had no choice but to hunt. Both the rich and the poor, armed with bows, crossbows, spears, all kinds of knives, as well as nets and traps, began to hunt.
The more a person was engaged in hunting, the more he realized that he needed an assistant, a dog capable of hunting in the dense forests and swamps, of which there were so many at that time. During this period in England, a good hunting dog was valued as much as a slave.