How were dogs invented? When someone had the following thought: “I’m being attacked by wolves! I think I will ruffle the fur around the neck of one and say ‘Who’s a good boy yes you are’ in a silly voice.”
Something like that must have actually happened, since evidence has been found that a Stone Age person made friends with a beast from the wolf family and turned it into the first domestic dog.
This columnist last week stumbled on a report which said archaeologists discovered the skull of a “canid” with a bone in its mouth in a 26,000-year-old human settlement in the Czech Republic.
A canid is a long-snouted mammal, a group which includes wolves, dogs, hyenas, Pete Townsend, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, etc.
Researchers say they have no idea why a Stone Age family adopted a canid 260 centuries before the invention of the pooper scooper.
My theory is that it can be blamed on the “keeping up with the neighbours” syndrome.
“Mama, the family in the next cave have their own baby hyena.”
“Really? Tell your dad to go out and get a full-sized wolf.”
The family dog became a thing — and now pet ownership is growing in every country.
My Japan correspondent claimed that his country takes this to the ultimate extreme. Evidence: The latest fad is full-scale funerals for pets. The bereaved family pays according to weight. A regular 20-kilo dog is 114,800 yen (about $1,000) but a Chihuahua weighing a kilo is only 95,800 yen.
But wait. My correspondent from America, Dan Hill, argued that his countrymen are ahead in the Insanity Over Pets category. Evidence: The US government has issued a new official classification for dogs: “Emotional Support Animal.” This gives any dog all the rights of a blind person’s guide dog, except the dog doesn’t need to be trained and the owner doesn’t need to be blind, just “emotionally fragile”. Since every American is emotionally fragile, apparently a legal requirement for citizenship, dogs are now everywhere.
In a recent case, a woman boarded an aircraft to find four Emotional Support Animals on board. She was allergic to dogs. “Although she had paid for her ticket, she was taken off the plane and the four Emotional Support Animals, whom airlines are not allowed to charge, travelled free,” said Dan.
A late entry for the Most Extreme Pet Lovers title was delivered by a colleague originally from the UK. A man there found a tattoo on the dog he adopted from a shelter. Believing that a cruel previous owner had tattooed the dog, he got the same symbol tattooed on to his own arm as a gesture of solidarity. It was only when he uploaded pictures on to the Internet that he learned that those tattoos are put on to dogs by rescue services and mean “testicles removed on this one”. Clearly he could take his desire for solidarity a logical step further by being neutered.
Meanwhile, my wife will exploit the new US policy if we ever go there. “I’d like to buy a regular air ticket for myself, and a free-of-charge seat for my husband who is my Emotional Support Animal.”