Miguel Vallejo Duque 10ºD
Thousands of years ago, wolves were tamed by early humans. How this was achieved is still uncertain, but we do know that these predators were the first animals to befriend humans. Through evolution, these wolves eventually became dogs. The changes this species went through is truly wonderful, morphing from a vicious breed of cold-hearted hunters to smart and loveable goofs. What is even more wonderful, however, is how two fundamentally different species managed to form a bond that has lasted for tens of thousands of years. Why is this? We must first understand how dogs experience life to answer this question.
Dogs are different from humans right down to their basic senses: their vision is much less effective, since they can only perceive yellows, blues, and grays. They are also very nearsighted, requiring them to get close to whatever they want to examine thoroughly. The quality that makes their eyesight salvageable is their peripheral vision, as it is greatly extended, allowing better perception of movement. Despite this, the sense of smell is where dogs shine the most. Dogs can have up to 300 million smell receptors depending on their breed, around sixty times more than humans. Additionally, a portion of the air inhaled goes to a special chamber behind the nose that is specialized in detecting odors.
How do these senses affect dog behavior? This naturally makes dogs rely on smell much more than sight. Dogs are constantly on the lookout for new smells, especially that of other dogs’ urine. Strangely enough, dogs can register a surprising amount of information from another canine’s pee, such as their gender and their mood. Not having the best eyesight also makes dogs more prone to perceive less, more abstract characteristics of their surroundings, such as the mood of those around them. This leads us to another crucial element of dogs’ relationship with humans: their empathy. Dogs can read the emotions of those around them and tend to reflect them on themselves. If their master is scared, they’ll become wary. When around jolly individuals, they’ll become jolly as well. This ability to almost flawlessly discern the true mood of the people around them is what makes them amazing service animals. They can help individuals with conditions that hinder their ability to communicate themselves by providing company and affection. This is the final piece of the puzzle: love and affection.
While your pet may only be a part of your life, you are your pet’s reason for existing. Studies have shown that when interacting with their master, the dog’s level of oxytocin will shoot up just by looking their owner in the eye. Oxytocin is colloquially referred to as the “love hormone”, and it is usually released when a parent holds their baby or when a newly formed couple keeps each other’s company. This is a true testament to how much dogs love humans and how much humans love dogs. This affection is so great; we have broken the massive language barrier between the two species and manage to communicate despite our spoken language being fundamentally different from dogs’ barks and body language.
The story of humans and dogs is one that begins with fear and ends with undying love. Despite the ancestors of the canines in question being dangerous predators, human grit and dedication managed to make them friendlier and friendlier as time went on. Before we knew it, we had formed an unlikely yet unbreakable bond with canines, a connection that would last for millennia to come. If you own a dog, be grateful for them and what they bring to your life.