Human beings and dogs
Man’s best friend
Scientific research throws new light on a very old partnership
Aug 6th 2011 | from the print edition
Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behaviour Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet.
By John Bradshaw. Basic Books; 324 pages; $25.99. Published in Britain as “In Defence of Dogs: Why Dogs Need Our Understanding”. Allen Lane; £20. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
作者：约翰•布拉德肖；Basic Books出版社出版；324页；售价25.99美元；英国出版名为《为狗辩护：为何狗需要我们的理解？》；Allen lane出版社出版；售价20英镑。本书也可在Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk购得。
THE relationship between people and dogs is unique. Among domesticated animals, only dogs are capable of performing such a wide variety of roles for humans: herding sheep, sniffing out drugs or explosives and being our beloved companions. It is hard to be precise about when the friendship began, but a reasonable guess is that it has been going strong for more than 20,000 years. In the Chauvet cave in the Ardèche region of France, which contains the earliest known cave paintings, there is a 50-metre trail of footprints made by a boy of about ten alongside those of a large canid that appears to be part-wolf, part-dog. The footprints, which have been dated by soot deposited from the torch the child was carrying, are estimated to be about 26,000 years old.
The first proto-dogs probably remained fairly isolated from each other for several thousand years. As they became progressively more domesticated they moved with people on large-scale migrations, mixing their genes with other similarly domesticated creatures and becoming increasingly dog-like (and less wolf-like) in the process. For John Bradshaw, a biologist who founded the anthrozoology department at the University of Bristol, having some idea about how dogs got to be dogs is the first stage towards gaining a better understanding of what dogs and people mean to each other. Part of his agenda is to explode the many myths about the closeness of dogs to wolves and the mistakes that this has led to, especially in the training of dogs over the past century or so.