It is well known that dogs have been aiding humankind since the dawn of civilization from hunter, herder, and guard dog. But, when did they become less of a commodity and more of a friend?
New evidence suggests that dogs were cared for like family almost 14,000 years ago. The proof comes from a study conducted after a grave was revealed in an archeological dig where a prehistoric couple was found buried with their puppy.
First signs of empathy
Although we know that dogs were domesticated at this time, this is the first instance of a burial site where a dog was included as a member of the household.
Upon further examination by veterinarian/archeologist Luc Janssens, it was discovered that the remains of the dog were from a puppy; a very ill puppy by the looks of his teeth. Dying at only 28-weeks old, this poor pup suffered from canine distemper virus, which is fatal.
The fact that the puppy survived until his 28th week shows clear signs that he was well cared for especially between 19 and 23 weeks when the disease would have been at its worse.
Its owners nurtured their fur baby through fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and even possible seizures until the very end. This displays the first signs of empathy toward dogs as a species to be valued as more than an object rather a fragile being.
From material to emotional value
The exact date of dog domestication is not known, but some experts like University of Liverpool’s Keith Dobney, an archeologist, says that it could date back to over 30,000 years.
What we do know is that many of these dogs were used primarily as a means of survival. Gathering and protecting one’s food was of their upmost concern; leisure activity like caring for a pet may have seemed like a waste of time and resources to most.
This burial site then shows us an early glimpse into a shift in mindset. To take the time to care for a sick puppy tells us a lot about the social and mental development of prehistoric life.
It seems that even people in survival mode cannot resist the adorable face of a puppy.