“Dogs need just you and love, that’s all.” – Jennifer Westfield

Two yellow Labradors took our senior neighbor for a walk every morning and evening. We waved and smiled but never met. With sadness I noticed lately, one dog was missing. Surely because of the dog’s age, the owner had to come to the mournful decision to help his companion through the transition. We know how it aches.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras

For more than forty years we have bred, trained, cherished their companionship, and deeply loved our dogs. To realize when it was time to leave meant agony, yet it is also an act of love.

Our thoughts and words are dedicated to our neighbor, in memory of his dogs and his recently departed wife.

“The only creatures that evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and children.” – Johnny Depp

For seniors, dogs offer comfort and companionship with both physical and mental benefits. People with pet dogs exercise considerably more, with increased survival rates from coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that people who keep pet dogs or cats are in better physical and mental health, with fewer doctor visits and less medication.

The ancestor of the dog is the wolf. Remains found in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia date back approximately 33,000 years ago. At least 13,000 years ago, the present lineage of dogs evolved from the wolf. The oldest remnants of a domesticated dog in the Americas were found in Texas dating back 9,400 years ago. Today there are 340 breeds recognized worldwide.

“I looked up my family tree and found three dogs using it.” – Rodney Dangerfield

The wolf is a carnivore. Humans eating meats goes back 2.5 million or so years ago. Today, both humans and dogs are omnivores.  What happened?

Imagine our early ancestors sitting and eating around a campfire. The fine sense of smell of food attracts wolves. They shy away from the human smell. A scrap of food, a bone is tossed their way. A wolf rushes in and grabs it, and it tastes really good. This event repeats itself until the wolves lost their fear and became domesticated.

Humans soon learned the enormous benefits from living with the wolf-dogs. Dogs improved sanitation by cleaning up food scraps. They alerted the camp to the presence of predators and strangers. Dogs provided warmth in cold nights. With their exceptional sense of smell, they hunted and tracked game. It was the primary reason for the domestication of the wolf into today’s dog.

Perhaps when you now see a toy poodle and a Great Dane and read a little of their canine history, you may be awed by the power of evolution and how we all benefit from it.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil, jealousy or discontent.” – Milan Kundera

George can be reached at [email protected].

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