The life of dog has always been close to humans like our children. It has provided people with companionship since it was first attracted to human habitation at least 12,000 years ago. Before the 20th century, this was a minor role for the dog – it was used primarily for work.
The Life Of A Dog
However, today the dog is most valued for the companionship it offers. Although mass urbanization in Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, and the great cities of Asia and South America has cut many people off from the natural world, the dog has accompanied them to the cities. Its future is secure as an important member of both urban and rural households.
It is only by happy accident that after the last Ice Age, the Northern Hemisphere’s two most successiful predators learned that they could not only survive better, but also actually thrive in each other’s presence. Dogs are content to be our companions because they need to be guided by a pack leader, appretiate the simple availability of food, warmth, and comfort, and thrive on the knowledge that they have a defined territory to defend.
We also offer them simple play (which provides them with a lifelong pleasure) and physical contact. We ourselves gain a great deal of companionship. Dogs make us feel loved, secure, and important, and they make us laugh. We enjoy stroking them because touch is pleasurale. We like talking to them, although most of us realize that their ability to understand what we are saying is very limited, but the more it makes the life of dogs more comfortable.
We also like talking about them – describing something we love is probably good for our health. We feel content when we watch our dogs play, and we certanly feel loved when a dog comes over and and gives an affectionate greeting. We feel immensely satisfied when we feed, groom, exercise, and care for our dogs in a variety of other ways.
AN EMOTIONAL BOND
Recently, science has investigated the role of dogs as companions. The companionship of dogs is not just a manifestation of a middle-class affluence. Dogs are the world’s favourite companions, regardless of the culture or economic wealth of the region. In Zimbabwe and South Africa, over 40 per cent of all households keep dogs as companions. Anthropologists’ reports from all the world’s continents show that pet keeping is an international human phenomenon.
Scientists state, for example, that the Athabaskan Hare Native people in the Canadian Northwest Territories are “repressed, contained, and restrained”, except in their relationships with children and puppies. Their puppies are spoiled, sheltered, given choice food, played with, and very rarely punished or scolded until they reach adulthood, when affection vitually ceases. Observers say that being in contact with a constant flow of puppies creates an outlet for natural, dormant feelings that are culturally repressed.
The great emotional satisfaction that dogs provide may well be mirrored in a number of more affluent societies. In Europe, the northern cultures of Scandinavia, Great Britain, northern France, and Germany are less comfortable with visible shows of human emotion than the southern cultures of Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, and the Middle East.
Yet dog ownership is taken more seriously in northern Europe than in southern Europe. Dr. Aaron Katcher, an American psychiatrist, has written that touching and stroking dogs, and speaking to them affectionately, are acceptable ways by which people – men in particular – can give and receive affection in public when it is culturally unacceptable to show emotion or affection to other people.
Every dog owner should understand the obligation, that with the companionship of a dog come responsibilites for its health and welfare to make life of dogs more enjoyable and long lasting.
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