[FOUNTAIN]The dispute over man’s best friend

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[FOUNTAIN]The dispute over man’s best friend

Humans living on the plains made fires to repel wild animals. But having tasted meat left over from people’s meals, golden jackals approached the humans. The jackals would alert the people when beasts came near. One day, a jackal followed a hunter chasing a wild horse. The hunter missed the game, and his spear only made the horse run away. But then the jackal nosed about for the scent and led the hunter to the horse.
Nobel prize winner and father of comparative ethology Konrad Lorenz imagined the history of dogs and humans in his classic, “Man Meets Dogs.” The ancestors of dogs and people grew to realize how they could cooperate and coexist for mutual benefit. According to Mr. Lorenz, the ancestors of dogs were precious partners for prehistoric humans.
The origin of dogs stems more from jackals than wolves. While Eskimo dogs and the Chinese chow chow are related to wolves, dogs in general are descended from wild jackals. Humans are said to have begun keeping dogs over 10,000 years ago in the late Paleolithic period. In the prehistoric dwellings around the Baltic Sea, skulls of small dogs related to the golden jackal were discovered.
Originally, dogs were kept in households as guards. Ancient Egyptian women had watchdogs around their rooms. Later in Rome, fighting dogs appeared. According to a Tang Dynasty document, dogs were raised on Jeju Island and their skins and fur were used to make clothes.
So how did dogs become subservient to people? By nature, baby jackals are completely submissive to their parents. Also, male jackals are known for their chivalry, and hardly bully the female or babies.
The latest revision of municipal regulations on apartment buildings in Seoul includes a clause that requires dog owners to get their neighbors’ consent to keep an animal. While champions of the new regulation claim that it is suitable to preserve public courtesy, others say they cannot give up their beloved pets just because the neighbors don’t like them.
Hundreds of dogs are abandoned every month. Urbanization is hindering a partnership that has lasted for several millennia. If there were a god of jackals, he would have told urban dogs, “Silly creatures, you shouldn’t have followed humans. After all, they are not even nice to each other.”


by Lee Kyu-youn

The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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