Dogs are useful


You may not think so but your dog’s got a specific job. His role in your family is probably social and psychological rather than functional and utilitarian, as dog jobs once were, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable to us. In fact, the dog’s modern role in our lives may be more important than ever. If that were not so, then why is it that more than one out of three households in North America, Europe and Australasia go to the expense and trouble of housing dogs? Why do we burden ourselves, emotionally and financially, by housing and caring for so any of them?

From the beginning of their relationship with us dogs served ever-changing roles and functions. At different times in different places they’ve been no more than irritants to human society, not much different to how we think of rats and mice today. At other times and in other localities they’ve been marginal participants, involved in but not central to human endeavour. Human communities would still have evolved as they did but the presence of dogs was certainly useful for that evolution. Yet in other circumstances, and some commentators include in this category the very first Neolithic livestock raising communities in the fertile lands between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq, dogs played a crucial and elemental role. The dog’s importance in our transition from hunter-gatherers to livestock raisers can only be speculated about but it’s not speculation, it’s fact that regions of the world such as high mountain pastures would never have been settled for livestock production without the help of dogs and that vast areas such as the Asian and American Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and remote islands of Eastern Polynesia in the Southern Hemisphere would not have been inhabited when they were without the vital participation of dogs. In some instances human history would not be what it is without the dog.

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