From Labor to Love: Man’s Best Friend in the Making

August 31, 2010 at 1:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Labor Day is the time for getting a day off from work, relaxing, and savoring the unofficial last few days of summer. Everyone’s wondering “when will the leaves begin to change their colors”, “when will the first algebra test be”, or “should the car be winterized”? But, it seems like Labor Day is not only a day away from the office, but a chance to let these worries fade away.

Since Labor Day is, after all, about acknowledging everyone’s hard work, it’s also a great opportunity to acknowledge one of man-kind’s hardest working companions: dogs. To appreciate how hard-working dogs truly are, a (brief) look through their history is essential, and interesting!

Humans and wolves would often hunt for the same prey, so it seemed advantageous to pair up. It is estimated that dogs split from wolves (most likely grey wolves) around 100,000 years ago, but no one knows if humans had any role in the process.

The working relationship between dogs and humans began around 14,000 years ago, believed to be in the Middle East. People needed help hunting and herding while in return offering dogs shelter, protection, food, and love. At Bonn-Oberkassel, a burial site in Germany dated 14,000 years old, humans and dogs were found buried together, a rather significant find since this is currently the oldest domesticated dog. In the Americas, the oldest known domesticated dog was found in Danger Cave in Utah. The remains are dated 11,000 years old.

There’s evidence of multiple breeds of domesticated dogs in Egyptian paintings and Roman mosaics, meaning that by this time, dogs were already an integral part of human society.

From the earliest hunting and herding responsibilities that dogs played, new roles developed. Dogs played crucial parts in wars and soon became a friend for children to spend time and play with.

In the first half of the 20th century, dogs were mainly kept outside and there was a difference between them and the rest of the family. However, in the latter half of the century, dogs moved inside. More recently, dogs are viewed as another member of the family; a sibling or a child. 71.4 million U.S. households (or 62%) have at least 1 pet, 77.5 million of which are dogs, according to a 2009-2010 survey.

Interaction with dogs has been shown to have health benefits, as well. Dogs are used as a form of therapy in hospital wings to help bring smiles to patients and shed some love, warmth, and happiness. Read this article about how dogs boost morale for long-term patients.

Today, dogs working for humans may not be as common as it once was, but they are still proving their loyalty and skills. Sled dogs, police dogs, and seeing-eye dogs are essential for our society to function, as well as being great assets. There is still a great dependence on dogs, and they still depend on us.

This Labor Day, take time off for yourself and, if you have a working dog, give them time to relax, too. Spend some time together and have fun with them. Scroll down to read about fun activities both you and your dog will enjoy under “Summer Fun for You and Your Pet”. One of our hardest workers also happens to be one of our best friends, so on this Labor Day, don’t forget to participate in the long-lasting bond between man-kind and dogs.

Happy Labor Day!

Written by: Heal from Pet Loss intern Sean Mikita. Currently a senior at Duquesne University.

Check out these links for more information on the history of dogs.


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