Why We're So In Love With Dogs

July 20, 2018
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How obsessed are you with your dog? It's okay, be honest. If you're anything like me, the answer is SUPER OBSESSED. Truth be told, I've never really questioned why I love my dog the way that I do; it's something I've just embraced. However, our friends at TIME have come up with a pretty good explanation. Read below!

Related: You're invited to join us and celebrate your love for your furry best friend at the two remaining Yappy Hours on July 20th and July 27th

The following was taken from TIME, which was excerpted from TIME How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind.

The relationship began—well, nobody knows exactly when it began. The earliest remains of humans and dogs interred together date to 14,000 years ago, but there are some unconfirmed finds that are said to be more than twice as old. The larger point is the meaning of the discoveries: we lived with dogs and then chose to be buried with them. Imagine that.

It was only by the tiniest bit of genetic chance that our cross-species union was forged at all. Dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their mitochondrial DNA—the DNA that’s passed down by the mother alone—which makes the two species nearly indistinguishable. But elsewhere in the genome, there are a few genetic scraps that make a powerful difference. On chromosome six in particular, investigators have found three genes that code for hyper-sociability—and they are in the same spot as similar genes linked to similar sweetness in humans.

Our ancestors didn’t know what genes were many millennia ago, but they did know that every now and then, one or two of the midsize scavengers with the long muzzles that came nosing around their campfires would gaze at them with a certain attentiveness, a certain loving neediness, and that it was awfully hard to resist them. So they welcomed those few in from the cold and eventually came to call them dogs, while the animals’ close kin that didn’t pull the good genes—the ones we would come to call wolves or jackals or coyotes or dingoes—would be left to make their way in the state of nature in which they were born.

When humans ourselves left the state of nature, our alliance with dogs might well have been dissolved. If you didn’t need a working dog—and fewer and fewer people did—the ledger went out of balance. We kept paying dogs their food-and-­shelter salary, but we got little that was tangible in return. Never mind, though; by then we were smitten.

Our language reflected how love-drunk we’d gotten: the word “puppy” is thought to have been adapted from the French poupée, or doll—an object on which we lavish irrational affection. Our folk stories were populated by dogs: the Africans spoke of Rukuba, the dog who brought us fire; the Welsh told the tale of the faithful hound Gelert, who saved a prince’s baby from a wolf. Aristocrats took to including the family dog in family portraits. Wealthy eccentrics took to including dogs in their wills.

The average American dog owner spends more than $2,000 a year on food, toys, medical care and more, and some people would be prepared to pay a much higher, much dearer price. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, so many people refused to evacuate without their dogs that Congress passed a law requiring disaster preparedness plans to make accommodations for pets.

What began as a mutual-services contract between two very different species became something much more like love. None of that makes a lick of sense, but it doesn’t have to. Love rarely touches the reasoning parts of the brain. It touches the dreamy parts, the devoted parts—it touches the parts we sometimes call the heart. For many thousands of years, it’s there that our dogs have lived.

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