Friday, February 10, 2012

Amahd (Pt. I): Match made in heaven

A man and his dogs:  Pondering the relationship between humans and dogs.

In 1998, Professor John Allman, Hixon Professor of Psychobiology and professor of biology, published a theory.  According to Allman, Homo sapiens sapiens and Canis lupis formed an alliance far earlier than the 30-some thousand years most anthropologists speculated.  Professor Allman theorizes that the partnership was formed almost as soon as the two species came into contact, roughly 140,000 years ago.  That was when modern humans migrated out of Africa to encounter wolves in Europe and southwestern Asia.  The symbiosis was so perfectly attuned that Canis lupis quickly evolved into Canis familiaris, modern-day dogs.   Professor Allman further suggests that this partnership may have played a pivotal role in the eventual dominance of Homo sapiens sapiens over his bigger, stronger, but dog-less cousin, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

While the timeline may be unclear, what is perfectly clear is that it has been a profitable relationship for both species.  Human beings and dogs conquered 5 continents together.  Imagine all the occasions in humanity's chronicle in which humans and dogs have relied on each other for survival.  Even today, it seems doubtful that either species would be as successful without the other.

My beagle, Trixie
In addition to serving as sentinels, soldiers, shepherds, guides, and rescuers, dogs are loved and revered companions of unimpeachable loyalty.  They are an integral part of our civilization as well as members of our families.  Wherever there are humans, there are dogs sharing their homes and their hearts.

If we adhere to the Catholic creed, dogs, lacking souls, become non-beings upon death.  Doesn't make sense to me.  I prefer to go with the Hindu view of the matter.  In that way of thinking, dogs, like all beings, are manifestations of God, traversing the cycle.  The dogs we know in this life will be with us in our next, albeit transmogrified.  (I recently read a mediocre book that touched on this philosophy.)

Pippin, livin' the dream at the house on Klamath Lake
I've had two dogs in my life.  One was a pure-breed beagle.  Trixie.  The other was a dingo-sheltie crossbreed.  Pippin.  Two dogs. Two cherished and irreplaceable family members. Trixie and Pippin.

Good dogs.

To be continued...

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