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Man’s Oldest Friend

33,000 year old dog skull

The worlds of science and archaeology are abuzz this morning about a domesticated dog skull found in a cave in Siberia. The skull was found in the Altai Mountains, in East-Central Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together. The University of Arizona’s Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory has set the age of the skull at 33,000 years old. This skull, together with an earlier find in Belgium, supports one of my favorite arguments for the preservation of our pure bred dogs.

Man and canine have a primeval relationship unlike any other species. The Siberian find proves two things, One, the dog predates the domestication of other animals by tens of thousands of years. Anthropologists believe that sheep and goats were not domesticated until around 7,000 BC.  Two, dogs were domesticated at more than one geographical location. I have a theory that humans have lived with dogs for so long that we are genetically programmed to live with dogs. If you have ever seen a child introduced to their first dog on the street, you know that there is something in all of us that makes us seek out canine companionship.

Whenever I get into a discussion about breeders rights and altering established breed characteristics, I find our modern day sensibilities insufficient to convey the most important argument on our behalf. 30 years ago I would have made the point that the government had no right to intrude on my property rights and my pursuit of happiness–a noble point, but one long ago rejected by a society that intrudes into your life at will today. 15 years ago I would have tried to appeal to law makers self interest, saying these laws are expensive to enforce and cost jobs, especially among young people.

Today I say to those who would alter my breed’s characteristics to fit their modern paradigm:

“You are defacing the Pyramids. You are tearing down Stonehenge. What gives you the right to alter 30,000 years of man’s collaboration with the dog? Mastiff breeds have fought along side Julius Caesar and walked the Great Wall of China when it was first built. I don’t want your interpretation of my history. If you can preserve a two hundred year old house, you can leave my 2,000 year old breed unchanged.”

And that’s today’s Back story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Pat Pierce August 19, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    Here, here! Leave the older breeds ALONE! There’s lots of new ones to tinker with – and we’ve obviously been doing just that for millenia! I can understand “improving” breeds for health reasons – there’s not a dog lover alive who finds it horrible our “big guys” like Irish Wolfhounds, are restricted to such short life spans, or finds it “OK” that Boxer lovers, Bernese Mountain Dog fans,Golden Retriever aficionados, Australian and German Shepherd owners, and many others, have to regularly battle brain tumors, hemangiosarcoma, kidney failure, epilepsy, and many other serious genetic problems in our favorite breeds. Most of those ancient types are very healthy breeds – and perhaps they will hold the keys to eradicating genetic nightmares in our newer best friends.

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