Photos of a recent dog training session at The Family Foundation School. Photos by Jake H.
By Jake H.
Dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years. In some cultures, like that of indigenous New Guinea, dogs have been regarded as sacred or even Gods. The relationships between man and dog is more a give and take relationship than most people think.
It was first believed that thousands of years ago man captured wolves and domesticated them by keeping them close for a long period of time. Recently a theory that through selective breeding that dogs essentially bred them.
The theory began by observing the behavior of modern dogs at city dumps. The dogs at the dumps feeding were typically stray and are not very calm around humans, therefore they run when approached. Scientists began to notice that different dogs had different response distances that they would run when approached by humans. It is thought that the dogs that would allow humans to get the closest have that same relation with the first wolves that became dogs. Scientists believe that these wolves allowed themselves to be close to humans in order to feed at the dumps. Since the other, more skittish, wolves would not get close to humans, the wolves that would began to breed amongst themselves which cause the gene that caused them to run at the site of humans was bred out. This resulted in a wolf that would not run around humans and eventually was taken in.
This theory is supported by an experiment done by Russian fox breeders that wanted foxes that were easier to handle. As a result the fox farmers hired a Soviet scientist named Dmitri Belyaev in 1959 to try and find a solution to the aggressive behaviors of the foxes. He started by taking the foxes with the calmest temperament and began to breed them together. As a result the foxes began to look different in appearance in the same way dogs do from wolves. After about a decade into the experiment, the foxes even could be called by name. This research firmly backs the new theory of how modern day dogs came to be.
One of the biggest questions that this theory is faced with is: why would humans, who were trying to find food for themselves, take on another mouth to feed? Scientists have answered this question in many different ways. First off, the dogs fed on left over when they could. Second, dogs helped humans hunt. Dogs are able to see, smell, and hear much better than humans making them perfect for hunting parterres. These natural abilities combined with the intellect of humans make the team a formidable match to any prey. Another answer is that they make excellent guards and alarm systems that would help fend off enemies.
Since the relationship began thousands of years ago man and dog have become closer and closer. It has grown, and will continue to grow as we find more and more applications for the relationship. At the Family Foundation School Dr. Rita Argiros is very in tune with the positive outcomes of the relationship and applies them at the school through the Dog Training program. FFS’s dog training is a program in which the students are able to benefit from this relationship by spending time caring for and learning from the dogs in a therapeutic environment.