It is not a mere coincidence that dogs are considered to be man’s best friends. For centuries, they assisted people in hunting, guarding and herding. With the social development, the dogs’ role has changed. Now they take part in locating missing persons, assist in rescue operations, in the aftermath of disasters, participate in law activities for instance detect narcotics. During wars, they served as real soldiers in patrol assignment. Today, with their kindness, courage and loyalty dogs become not a property but real family members. A cherished dream of nearly every child is to become a happy puppy owner, because you are likely to have not just a funny pet, but a real friend. “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself” (Billings).
Dogs were domesticated nearly 15,000 years ago. Many scholars think they descended from grey wolves that gathered near camps of hunters and first settlements to eat scraps. Therefore, it was not a deliberate process of domestication- dogs primarily domesticated themselves. Smaller wolves were more curious and brave than aggressive, thus became more successfully in living close to people. The ancient Egyptians cherished their dogs. In Carthage, Tunisia, on the Yasmina cemetery scientists uncovered a third-century A.D. young adult grave with a dog at his feet. What is remarkable is that despite the dog’s physical problems including tooth loss, osteoarthritis and spinal deformation the dog lived till its mid-to-late years. It was well-carried for and even after death stayed with its owner (Lobell and Powell). That is clear evidence, that from the very beginning dogs were guardians and hunters as well as friends.
Today dogs can be more than good comrades – they can serve as real helpmates for people with special needs. The well-known companion dogs are the guide dogs for the visually impaired. They are trained to provide the mobility and independence of blind men and women. Hearing dogs are trained to alert deaf or hard-of-hearing people to various sounds such as an alarm clock, telephone ring, doorbell, baby crying, and sirens. Service dogs for physically disabled are trained to perform different tasks as pulling wheelchairs, retrieving dropped items, turning the light on and off, opening and closing drawers and doors, carrying items et cetera. Moreover, dogs can be a great support for depressed and mentally retarded people. Their presence in hospital settings is associated with the tendency of patients to smile and talk, exhibit attention and interest towards people and objects, and experience lesser symptoms of illness and depression. On the other hand, if to consider an average family that has a pet, dog owners tend to be more physically active, healthier and joyful (Barber). Children in such families have high self-esteem and competence together with motivation while being responsible for pet’s exercise, feeding and training.
There is a great variety of breeds to fit a person’s health and personality, not to talk about mixed-breed dogs that are as individual as people. For those, who lead an active life and love sports, Doberman pinchers and Dalmatians are the right choice. For busy bees, independent Chinese-sharpies and Russian wolfhounds may fit a business life. People, who suffer from allergy, may consider including poodles and Portuguese water dogs. Calm and usually quiet Yorkshire terriers or Maltese pups will enjoy travels. Pugs and Shiba Inus are the breeds that help to reduce stress, ease depression and make their owners happier (Eckstein). This list can be continued. All in all, it seems that calm, friendly and smart Labrador Retrievers are dogs that can match almost every need, whether it is children care or help to handicapped people.
Owning a dog is a great responsibility as well as costs. According to the researches, total, low cost over the life of a 14 year old dog can be over 4,000$, medium cost – over 12,000$ and high cost can reach the mark near 39,000$. The list of expenses includes the purchase price, food, vaccines, vet bills, training, bed, collars, and lots more (The Cost of Owning a Dog). As it was wittily stated: “Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack” (Lancaster). Moreover, dogs need a special diet that should not contain salt and sugar, dairy products, raw eggs and raw meet, fish, bones from fish, poultry or other meat sources (Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog). Unfortunately, many people tend to feed their pets with table scraps, and even spoiled food, treating the dogs like garbage recycling plants.
Although dogs are only animals, they often show courage and loyalty as real heroes. There are numerous stories of dogs saving human lives. In 2007 Chihuahua Zoey protected a kid from a rattlesnake. The same year a German Shepherd Moti, literally took a bullet for his family. When an intruder got into the house, Moti attacked him and barked to draw the attention. He got shot but luckily survived. Norman, a blind Labrador retriever, saved his owner Annette from drowning. Listening to a little girl’s screams, Norman found her and guided to shore (Warber). An amazing story happened with George, a Basset-hound, who managed to dial 999 – the British equivalent of 911 – to call for help when accidentally a telephone cord wrapped tight around his neck (The Amazing Dog that Saved its Own Life by Calling the Police). These are only few examples of how brave, smart, and loving dogs can be.
For centuries dogs and people have shared a deep spiritual bond. For many people, their pets become loving family members, thankful friends and caring doctors and assistants. Remember, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is a principal difference between a dog and a man” (Twain).