For the love of dog
Like many others, I am a dog lover. They are a most amazing creature which has fitted into human society greater than any other animal. From personal companions to dogs which work from herding to guard dogs and seeing eye dogs. While we take the domestic dog to our hearts we often treat their cousins with less care, and ever more suspicion.At least fifteen thousand years ago we began to take grey wolves into our villages and homes. Since then we have selectively bred them into a range of breeds of varying shapes and sizes as well as to enhance certain senses. While they may have an incredibly diverse set of appearances they are all the same species, Canis familiaris or Canis lupis familiaris.They are in the family Canidae along with dingoes, wolves, dhole, and foxes. Sadly many of these species are hunted for sport in spite of their closeness to an animal we seem to cherish. So I thought I'd have a quick look at a few things about canids.With dogs integrating so well into human society they also exhibit some of our behaviour, such as imperative pointing. This is when someone or something indicates to another the location of something they desire but can not access, usually by gesturing or eye movement. It has been widely observed in primates such as chimpanzees, gorilla, and orangutans in captivity, as well as toddlers.A small study at the Wolf Science Centre in Austria has shown that, like dogs, wolves are capable of this imperative pointing behaviour to indicate the location of food to humans when it is out of their reach. Wolves don't pick up this behaviour until a later stage in development but display it without training, this would indicate it is a skill derived from working in a pack in the wild. During this study though they had both co-operative and competitive ones, where the competitive humans would take the food after it being indicated to them. While both wolves and dogs would still indicate the food locations to competitive humans they would do so far less emphatically than with the co-operative humans.For about four thousand years the adorable bandicoots of mainland Australia have had to avoid being prey for the dingo. This period of time has given the bandicoot the survival knowledge to avoid yards where domesticated dogs live. Dogs were introduced to both mainland Australia and Tasmania around two hundred years ago. This doesn't appear to have been enough time for the Tasmanian bandicoots to have gained a natural avoidance of property where dogs are located. Cats were also introduced to Australia and Tasmania at the same time as the domesticated dog, but bandicoots, either mainland or Tasmanian do not avoid properties where these are homed.The domesticated dog is also one of the most successful killers of humanity, only mosquitos, humans and snakes cause the death of more people in the animal kingdom. It's estimated at around twenty-five thousand people per year, although many die by rabies contracted during the attack, while the wolf is roughly the cause of ten deaths per year. People still insist on hunting wolves, as well as other less dangerous canids. So why not extend this love of dogs to other canids, although best done at a distance, it probably wont hurt you.