Here’s a possibly true story about the first friendly dog. It’s dusk on a human settlement some ten thousand years ago. After a long day of farming, a family gathers around a campfire. They’re kicking back with hunks of venison (a rare treat), some corn, bread, maybe even a few cups of mead. Suddenly they hear rustling coming from the shadows. They turn around and see the glowing eyes of a wolf.
The people are surprised, maybe, but not scared. For many years they’ve noticed an odd group of wolves loitering just outside the village, rummaging up food scraps from the dump pile. The animals have never caused any harm and keep to themselves. But this is the first time a wolf has dared to come so close. It slowly approaches the fire, sits down, and cocks its head. Somebody tosses out a bit of bread.
As a recent dog owner, I love this story: Dogs are the wolves that mooched. They needed us, approached us, and ultimately wooed us into being best friends forever. This is a popular scientific theory — the ‘scavenger hypothesis’ — of how dogs came to be. But it’s not the only one, not by a long shot.
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