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Believe it or not, this is not Darwin’s dog

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In Defence of Dogs In his new book, In Defence of Dogs, John Bradshaw aims full tilt against the Darwin bore who knows everything there is to know about the “alpha wolf” and his selfish genes, not that he has usually ever seen a wolf in its native state. As Chris Cox reviews the book for the The Guardian (July 08, 2011):

He starts by demolishing the notion that dogs are essentially aggressive creatures seeking dominance, which is based on discredited research into wolf packs. It is now known that wolves – the direct ancestors of dogs – actually live in harmonious family groups. Packs are not dominated by “alpha wolves”, but are fundamentally cooperative. Bradshaw is determined that the “dominance theory” be banished. But while enlightened trainers and owners have got the message, many more still subscribe to techniques aimed at ingraining fear and subservience into dogs. For Bradshaw, these are not only misguided and cruel, but joyless.

His account of the evolution of dogs is fascinating. Surveying the latest research, he concludes that the dog’s epic journey towards domestication probably started around 20,000 years ago. Dogs have become almost a separate species from wolves, and their evolution continues to confound biologists. What Bradshaw is keen to stress, though, is the unique evolutionary pact between humans and dogs: we have programmed into them a deep need for relationships with humans, which we must treat with respect.

Actually, dogs didn’t evolve. They started out living with humans as working animals, prized for their natural gifts. But thus they implicitly accepted lapdoggery (and at worst demented yapsterhood) via selective breeding. A bad bargain, but as Bradshaw notes, dogs are better known for love than for smarts.

Now some fun:

Wolves of winter keeping an eye on their hunting ground:

Dog guarding baby (from what, it is unclear):

Dogs may not be the smartest creatures in the world, but they're smarter than chimpanzees. Ilion

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