Thanks to modern science, DNA studies in particular, we know when it happened—about 33,000 years ago—and where—somewhere in southeast Asia. That’s where and when the relationship between man and dog began, although the first dog wasn’t a dog at all, but a wolf, a member of the genus Canus and species Lupus. A Gray Wolf, in other words. And man, at that point, or Man, since we’re talking about a collective, and including both male and female members of the strain, bore little resemblance to men today. Physically they looked the same, a little hairier, maybe. Or a lot hairier. But anatomically speaking, human beings haven’t changed much in the intervening 30 millennia. Dogs, on the other hand—well, I’ve got one word for you: CHIHUAHUA.
Science even tells us that there were initially between four and five thousand of these founding canine fathers. These primitive dogs then spread into the Middle East and Africa beginning around 15,000 years ago. One thing this study posits that I have a hard time believing, though, is that modern dog breeds in China are more closely linked to their lupine ancestors than European and American breeds. Really? A Shih-Tzu is closer to a wolf than is a German Shepherd? That can’t be right!