From Wild Wolf to Care Giver

“Dogs can alert its owner of an epileptic seizure 15-30 minutes before the seizure actually happens”“From this research it is possible to say that modern day dogs originated from Asia and not Europe”

Mairead Boland delves into the history of our relationship with dogs, from the very beginning up until the present day.AS Andy Ronney once said ‘’the average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” It is not often that we stop to think about where our fluffy friends originated from. The location of domestication of the modern dog has for many years caused some debate in the scientific community.According to a recent article in the academic journal Science, dogs were in fact domesticated twice. Once in Asia, as previously thought and once in Europe. The research carried out in Oxford University and Trinity College Dublin examined the genome of the remains of a dog found in Ireland which dates back 4,800 years.The remains of an ancient Asian dog were also examined. Upon analysis it was found that the two genomes were considerably different. So much so that it led the scientists to believe that dogs were in fact domesticated twice. They also found that the DNA profile of later European dogs was more similar to that of the ancient Asian dogs. It is thought that Asian people migrated to Europe and brought their dogs with them. These dogs then replaced the Neolithic European dogs. This research would suggest our modern day dogs originated from Asia and not Europe.The exact location of the domestication of the dog is thought to have occurred in modern Mongolia or Nepal. At this time however dogs were not the friendly and diverse species we know today. The first dogs were in fact domesticated from the Asian grey wolf.As one can imagine, the domestication of a wolf must have been a daunting task. We are most certainly glad that somebody took one for Team Mankind and managed to achieve this dangerous goal. Diverging from this one species of grey wolf came thousands of species. Four hundred of these are what we call pure breeds.Let’s skip forward 15,000 years to the present. Dogs now impact in our lives in a myriad of ways. They serve us as pets, they provide great company to their owners who spend hours playing and walking their dogs. There are other ways to in which dogs have greatly impacted our lives.Due to the high degree of intelligence in dogs they have proven to be very useful in the medical field. Service dogs have been found to have endless benefits to people with disabilities. A survey done on a group of people with physical disabilities using service dogs and a group of people with physical disabilities who didn’t use service dogs found that those who used service dogs had a better mental health score than those who didn’t.These results appear to be due to the fact that service dogs decrease the amount of daily stresses in doing menial tasks. Tasks, which were once cumbersome due to disabilities, become much easier with the help of our furry friends.Use of service dogs in children who have autism has been found to have a huge range of benefits. Studies show these children to have decreased anxiety in social situations and more independence from their carers.Humans are becoming more creative in how we utilize our dogs There has been a recent trend in the use of dogs as a means of alerting when a person is having an allergy or a seizure. Dogs can alert its owner of an epileptic seizure 15-30 minutes before the seizure actually happens. This allows the owner of the dog to get to a safe location before the seizure actually happens. Service dogs can also be used for patients who are diabetic. Diabetic alert dogs can sense when a person blood glucose levels are at an unsafe level and alert its owner.Our canine companions have definitely proven themselves in the modern world; both as pets and as care givers. However, let us not forget to thank our ancient Asian predecessors for the gift of domestication. Without the domestication of the Asian grey wolf, our beloved pets would not be here today.