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How dogs and humans became so close

The bond between humans and dogs goes back thousands of years, and there is still much debate surrounding exactly when early dogs were first domesticated.

It’s believed that the evolution from wild dogs to man’s best friend occurred over a long span of time leading to the close bond we share with canines today. What started as a mutually beneficial arrangement between wild dogs and humans has turned into a deeply complex relationship.

“What began as a mutual-services contract between two very different species became something much more like love,” writes Time editor Jeffrey Kluge as part of a new TIME book titled How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind.

Dogs provide comfort and companionship, help with important tasks like guarding, hunting, and detecting, and we in turn provide love, attention, and care.

It’s a bond like no other in the animal kingdom, and even though we have other equally lovable pet animals, there does not exist nearly the same body of research on understanding and interacting with those animals like there does for dogs.

Our ability to understand the subtle body language of dogs is a product of our thousand years side-by-side evolution with canines.

According to the Time report, dogs and wolves share 99.9 percent of the same DNA, but a few slivers of genetic differences separate wild dogs and wolves from domesticated dogs. One major difference is the sociability of domesticated dogs versus wolves.

Something must have jump-started the relationship between humans and dogs and it most likely began with dogs genetically geared towards sociability lingering around ancient human settlements.

Today, dogs are such a central part of our lives, and Time reports that the average dog owner spends around $2,000 a year on their pet.

It’s all thanks to an ancient transaction formed between wild dogs and humans trading food and shelter for protection and love.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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