The partnership between humans and dogs began perhaps 14,000 years ago. Our first interactions may have occurred when wild dogs were attracted to human garbage, or humans may have acquired the puppies¹ of wild dogs and trained them to be obedient pets. By means of the careful selection of dog parents, humans have been able to create a wonderful variety of dogs with plenty of talents and many different looks. Here are three examples of “a dog’s life” in the human world.
The working dog
Jacques is one of many beagles that work at airports for the U.S. government in a program known as the Beagle Brigade. Beagles were chosen for this work because of their powerful noses. Their job is to smell and alert officers to illegal fruits, vegetables, and other foods in luggage or in mail. They do the job far better than humans could alone.
Some of the beagles who work in the program are donated by private owners, but many are ownerless beagles rescued from animal shelters². Many beagles who were scheduled to be euthanized³ are now working to keep their country safe from disease.
Treated like a queen
Tiffy, a beautiful eight-pound4 maltese is treated like a queen in New York City. Her owner, NancyJane Loewy, carefully prepares her meals of lamb, steak, salmon, tuna, chicken, and a variety of fresh vegetables. Tiffy also gets low-fat yogurt and cookies after dinner. Why? Loewy replies, “I have a dog because the dog needs me.”
Leowy, whose husband has a high-paying job and whose two sons are away at school, has the time and money to treat Tiffy extremely well, and she truly enjoys doing so. “I want to give her the healthiest, most wonderful life possible for as long as possible.”
The animal carer
Jessie is a whippet that visits children who are fighting deadly diseases. She brightens patients’ days with love and gives children a chance to exercise. At the National Institutes of Health, Jessie helps patients like young Lukas Parks to stay strong during their long hospitalization.
Whether as workers or objects of affection5, dogs have certainly proven themselves to be beneficial to humans in many ways. At the same time, their special place as “man’s best friend” has allowed dogs to survive in a human world. While wolves and wild dogs have nearly disappeared from the earth, domestic dogs continue to grow in number, thanks to their special relationship with humans.
¹ Puppies are young dogs.
² An animal shelter is a place where animals that are lost or have no owners are kept.
³ An animal that is euthanized is painlessly killed.
4 Eight pounds = 3.6 kg.
5 Affection is fondness or liking for someone.