When did humans first realise that special connection they have to dogs? I remember when I was in high school in Greece and we were studying Homer, how Odysseus had his most loyal dog Argos waiting for him patiently for all the years that he was away. In fact, such was the bond between the two, that Argos was the very first being to recognise his old master when he returned to Ithaca.
So this begs the question, how long have humans kept dogs as their companions and loyal friends? Apparently, in Homeric times, the notion of a pet dog was already present in human culture – and that is around 1000 BC, if not earlier. Are there any signs of human-dog friendships stretching even further back in human history?
We know for a fact that ancient Egyptians not only kept dogs in their company, but they worshiped them, with several deities being represented in canine form, such as Seti and Anubis. But going even further back in human history, one can find dog remains buried alongside humans (possibly the utmost sign of companionship) as early as 15,000 years ago, and cave paintings indicating domesticated dogs are traced back to 19,000 years ago.
Whether for companionship or protection, the bond between humans and animals goes a long way – and of course it doesn’t take history to tell us who man’s best friend really is!
Odysseus and Argos Canine cave paintings from Font-de-Gaume, France