Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dogs Might Have Helped Us Beat the Neanderthals

Just maybe, the ability of dogs to run far, the way we feel like we can almost read our dogs’ minds and feel like they can read ours, the way we have great empathy and reverence for them and the way they seem to make us happy, and how they get wary when we get upset and perky when we’re happy, is because humans have been roaming the wilderness, surviving with their dogs for perhaps as long as 40,000 years or more. In that time dogs and humans have grown close, it’s like they’ve melded into one social unit, with the dog and the human feeling happy in the presence of the other. Perhaps that’s why depressed people feel a little better when they’re petting a dog, or why so many people today enjoy going on a walk with their dogs in the woods or in the park. It’s hardwired in our brains now over ages of evolution. If it weren’t for the dog, we might not be here today. The dog wasn’t just a human pet, thousands of years ago, but a true life partner; on the hunt, around the hearth, and asleep in their shelter at night. Dogs weren’t loathed as an annoyance to be put up with, but revered like an earthly deity. Some say dogs helped modern humans beat the Neanderthals.