Wild to Tame… Domestication Changes Everything.

When you think of the word “domestication” you typically associate the word with some sort of cattle or food source provided in bulk of human-animal relationships around a farm. Others might associate it with pets in general or surrounding zoos. But historically, domestication wasn’t just some beneficial leisurely event that you could pick and choose what you wanted to have domesticated. Domestication was essential for survival, for sustainability in a single location, and for protection. In an article from Neuroanthropology titled “The dog-human connection in evolution” http://neuroanthropology.net/2010/08/23/the-dog-human-connection-in-evolution/ the fundamental relationship between man and specifically dogs were made at the very roots of how the two species became friends. Initially, dogs were the hunters, they were wolves and predators, preying on early civilizations. They brought about fear and chaos to people as they tried to sustain themselves in certain regions of the world. Over time though, the two species seemed to merge. Humans began trying to study the effective hunting habits of the wolves leading to their captures and manipulation into their own culture. The humans learned better predatory techniques and used these canines to help hunt, track prey, and defend camps so they could expand and grow to outnumber their former enemies once higher on the food chain.

But how could this all happen? Obviously you can’t just domesticate something overnight and have faith it won’t turn its back on you the next day for food or to make off and start new in the wild. There has to be an underlying root where a relationship can build, where the domesticator and domesticated can bond and befriend one another in some sort of unbreakable and loyal trust. How could this happen? The answer is simple, it has to be emotional union at the root. There had to be some basic level of emotional communication to be able to calm down any wild animal enough to get it not to fear you or have rage at you. There had to be some sympathy, empathy, underlying trust in discovering togetherness could bring out joy and reward. Knowing that all dogs once were wild animals and that over time they grew more and more prominent as parts of our very culture should show that over time these species built some unbreakable connection to our “humanity.” They must have learned and evolved something in emotional language with our culture to help them get and stay so close to us. In order to observe this though, you have to look at things in the eyes of a wild dog such as a wolf. They are naturally family predators hunting in packs, as a team with each member pulling some specific or tradable role. They tend to all fear the same thing if a member of their pack is injured or alternately react with rage and all-out attack. Humans in their own way can be seen similar as fending for their own and caring deeply for other members of their community.

In domestic dogs, although you could argue they are tricked into believing humans are part of their pack or another human, are they really thinking that way? Wolves in the wild could look at a civilization at their borders and view them as an enemy that they have to adapt to either target or live around, so when a human goes out into their domain they are set as prey and aren’t studied for what they are to them due to their innate concept to just “survive.” Domestic animals however don’t, or rarely ever, experience what it truly means to “need to survive” as well as many modern-civilization humans. Because of this, domestic dogs and humans are able to grow in a need free environment and leave their emotions open without fear of consequences that could lead to death or casualty. Despite not being a very deep difference, I believe that this concept is the root of the differences that could be observed between domestic and wild dogs.

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