We are in the Dog Days of Summer and it reminds me of a funny, not so funny joke. Who loves you more…your dog or your spouse? Well, if you lock both in the trunk of your car for an hour, which is happy to see you when you open it. Regardless of whether you think its funny it does illustrate a point; your dog gives you unconditional love. No other animal or pet is like a dog and there are so many words and phrases that are associated with our canine friends. Man’s best friend, loyal, obedient, trust worthy, affectionate, playful, intelligent, protective, just to name a few. I’ve seen websites and facebook pages where people were trying to describe their dogs and it went into the hundreds of descriptive words.
So how did the dog become domesticated and man’s best friend? Recent studies have put the “domestication of dogs” between 14,000 and 16,000 BC. Dogs are descendants of wolves, that much is certain, but how they were domesticated is still in great debate. There are some schools of thought that actually think that dogs domesticated us. That humans fulfill the need that dogs have to be loved, needed and relied upon. I watched a science fiction movie a little while ago that had Vin Diesel (actor) stranded on an alien planet. Eventually he was chased down by a pack of six legged strange looking doglike creatures. He put up enough of a fight that they left him alone but he captured one of the pups and over the next fifteen minutes of the movie he domesticated this alien dog using food and behavior modification training.
Although humans have domesticated many animals over the years, it’s the dog that is at the top of the list for the amount of jobs they have and can do. We have used them in hunting, herding, packing, protecting, policing, companionship, serving handicapped people and in the military. The amount of ways that dogs help humans seems to increase every day.
If you want to see how mans best friend is so integrated into our existence you only have to spend a few minutes online on our favorite social media platform…Facebook. In scrolling through my newsfeed I saw, a compilation of grouchy dogs, one of happy dogs, one playing fetch with himself, one dog that was so guilty about stealing a baby’s toy that he brought him every toy he owned. I saw a bulldog skateboarding and a terrier surfing and one Heinz 57 skydiving. I saw a dog climb a fence, one that has been taught how to drive a car, and one dog that did some of the most amazing tricks I have ever seen.
The World Canine Organization is the most internationally accepted registry for dogs and is based in France. At this time it recognizes 10 categories and 339 breeds of dogs. The categories are based on the dog’s purpose or function or on its appearance and size. I don’t have enough space here to go into all the breeds and categories but keep in mind these are just the registered breeds and they probably don’t include your sheepsnaupoolabraneeze. If you start including all the breeds that were created by accidentally leaving your “in heat” female outside for all the local males to see, you could be into the thousands. It is roughly estimated that right now there are 525 million dogs alive on this planet. No wonder the pet industry runs into the billions of dollars in sales.
While writing this months articles, I had the pleasure of running up to the SPCA office and had a chat with the branch manager, Liz Dighton. As well as raising money for my favorite charity, The Shriners, The SPCA is also on my list of pet projects for fundraising. Every year for the past four years I have photographed pets with Santa up at the Animal Hospital on Broadway and donated the proceeds to the SPCA. Four years of fundraising and I haven’t visited the centre yet. After I explained what we were doing this month at The Stew, Liz gave me a tour. As well as the kennels inside there were huge runs outside where some dogs were transferred to after a few days if they were healthy. Any dogs that needed more care were housed inside the building.
In North America it is estimated that between 7 and 9 million dogs and cats enter into animal shelters. In Williams Lake the SPCA takes in about 1000 animals annually, with about a third being dogs, so roughly 300-350. When touring the compound I saw about 6 dogs and Liz said two were already adopted. The number was very low as they had a lot of adoptions in the last little while. A fact about the SPCA that I actually didn’t know was that they are not government funded, I thought they were. Out of their annual budget less than 1 percent comes from a government grant. The SPCA is totally non profit and more than 99 percent of their operating budget comes from donations and fundraising. They do get a volume discount for neutering animals from the local Veterinarians but it’s not free. I’m not asking my readers to watch the Sarah McLaughlin SPCA video but if you do find an opportunity to help out the SPCA do so as it’s an amazing organization. Money, though always accepted, isn’t the only way to help as they are always looking for volunteers. If you are over 16 and have a few spare hours a couple times a month come up to the centre and help clean up, feed, and maybe even walk some of these very friendly animals.
The next time you find yourself looking for a new pet or thinking that you want a pet but don’t feel like house breaking a dog come up and visit the shelter as there may be a dog looking for a loving home that has already gone through it’s puppy stage. Until next month have an amazing August and as Bob Barker used to say “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered” to which I add “crazy relatives” to the list.