People Love Dogs
People love dogs. In fact, people breed and keep more than 300 different kinds of domestic dogs as pets. Most scientists believe that every one of these breeds is descended from the wolf. About 20,000 years ago, wolves probably became the first wild animals to be domesticated by humans.
With no written records to tell exactly when or how this happened, scientists have studied ancient relics and cave paintings to acquire an understanding of the way that wolves became domesticated. Some wild dogs probably began to depend on humans thousands of years ago, when people lived as wandering hunters. Wolves may have followed the roaming bands of hunters so they could eat the scraps of food that people left behind. Over time, they probably lost their fear of humans and drew closer to their camps.
Gradually, people realized that wild dogs could help them. With their superb senses, wolves could lead people to prey and warn them whenever danger was near. By raising some wolf pups by hand, there were soon enough pet wolves to provide a growing number of new pups.
Wolves adjusted to people easily. They are extremely social animals that live in groups. They are used to working together and following leaders. Wolves raised by humans accepted humans as their leaders.
As time went on, dogs changed even more. They looked different than their wild ancestors, and their behavior was almost entirely different. Some domestic dogs were raised just to look cute and be good companions.
Today, people have pet dogs of almost every size and shape. There are dogs that are as big as a pony and other dogs that fit in your hand.
We appreciate the loyalty and intelligence of domestic dogs. Some are specially trained to help people who have disabilities. There are guide dogs to help those who cannot see. Hearing dogs alert human companions who cannot hear doorbells or smoke alarms. Assistance dogs help people who are paralyzed. These dogs retrieve and carry items, turn on light switches, open and shut doors, and pull wheelchairs.
Unfortunately, the loyalty and intelligence of the domestic dog’s wild relatives are not always appreciated. Wild dogs are often blamed for things they don’t do. For example, ranchers may think that coyotes kill thousands of their sheep and cattle. But many of these animals actually die from other causes, and the coyotes scavenge their remains. Still, people blame the coyotes and try to get rid of them in many ways.