Man’s Best Friends

Recent statistics show that the population of pet dogs in Canada has risen to 7.6 million. Every year, this number increases at a significant rate. Dogs are one of the most popular choices for household pets, along with fish and cats.

While the exact origin of the domesticated dog is unknown, it is commonly understood that the pet is related to the grey wolf. Over hundreds of years, dogs have been domesticated, trained and used by man. The function of this animal has changed and evolved over the years.

When human societies were focused on hunting and gathering, the animals acted as trackers and protectors, since the threat of wild animals was ever-present. In the case of farming lifestyles, dogs were bred to herd cattle and specifically, sheep. This is the specific reason that the breed of shepherd dogs came into existence, as a working breed meant to help farmers herd their sheep. Another example of a working breed would be the tracking breeds like bloodhounds.

Once societies became more industrialised and modernised, the need of a dog and the role a pet would play began to change. In more recent times, the primary requirement of a pet relates to an individual’s need for companionship. Therefore, more friendly, gentle breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors gained popularity. Smaller breeds like the chihuahua and pugs have also become popular, since many people now stay in smaller apartments, and lifestyles may no longer accommodate a significant amount of exercise, which bigger dogs require.

One of the most important roles played by dogs in modern society is that of service animals. Trained specifically for these purposes, the pets assist people with visual impairments, autism, physical disabilities, and medical conditions. Seeing-eye and companion dogs provide support and comfort that improves the quality of life for many people.

It is clear that right from hunting and guarding to protecting and serving, dogs have always been a companion to man, and without a doubt can take the title of being man’s best friend.

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