Posted by on 18 May 2012 at 1:00 pm  Link-O-Rama
May 182012
  • James

    It’s not surprising to me that dogs view humans that way. Dogs–that is, Canis familiarus, the dogs we know and love today–didn’t actually evolve from wolves. Recent research shows that they evolved from an intermediate form, which was something like wild dogs today–a type of canine that existed on the edges of human groups, frequently as scavangers but often tolerated for their tendency to keep away even nastier beasts (I’d MUCH rather have a pack of dogs running around, even agressive ones, than, say, a short-faced bear or Smilidon fatalis!). The ones with traits humans liked (barking when wild animals showed up, fighting said wild animals, being able to eat scraps that humans don’t like) faired better than those that had traits we didn’t (eating our young, running from predators, starving if they weren’t given the best bits of food). Over time, this lead to domesticated dogs. That’s one reason I’m highly dubious about the “biologically correct” dog diets–they all seem to assume C. familiarus is merely a subgroup of C. lupus, which isn’t true. It’s also why humans and dogs tend to be able to understand one another: Our two species co-evolved, and dogs depend on humans for survival.

  • William H. Stoddard

    The thing that strikes me as curious about dogs using humans as tools is that our cats seem to grasp that they can get things done by getting our attention. Our older cat thinks water from the bathroom sink is the best of all possible water; and quite commonly, when one of us is in the bathroom, he’ll jump onto the sink, cry at us, and even put out a forepaw and prod us repeatedly. I’m wondering how similar that is to what dogs can do—and how such an ability could exist in a species so much less social than dogs are. It would be interesting to see comparative research.

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