Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/186

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

172

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ways so. The wild dog and wild man might have been chance allies when, for instance, a fatigued quarry pursued by the pack was struck down by a flint weapon, and the greater part of the carcass left to the original hunters; or when a wounded animal escaped its human foe to be followed up and devoured by the dogs. But, as a rule, the interests of dog and man would be conflicting, as is still the case where wild dogs exist, such as the dingoes of Australia, the dholes of India, and the hyena-like-wild dogs of central and southern Africa.

It must be borne in mind that in dealing with these primitive canine creatures the word "dog" is used in its widest sense, and must include such animals as wolves and jackals, which undoubtedly share in the ancestry of our familiar domestic breeds.

Probably the partnership first began through small, helpless whelps being brought home by the early hunters, and being afterward cared for and brought up by the women and children. The indifference with which almost all savages regard their dogs seems to negative the idea that primitive man took the trouble to tame and train adult wild animals of this kind for his own purposes. The young dog would form one of the family, and would unconsciously regard himself as such. The reason why he should so regard himself will be discussed later when we come to consider the probable canine view of the relationship.

It would soon be found that his hunting instinct was of use to his captors, for while wandering abroad with them his keen nose would detect the presence of hidden game when the eyes of his savage masters failed to perceive it; and when a wounded animal dashed away, his speed and instinct for following a trail by scent would often secure what would otherwise have been lost. The dog in his turn would find an easier living and a better shelter while associated with man than if he were hunting on his own account, and thus the compact would be cemented by mutual benefits.

Now let us consider why the dog should so readily fall into the position of the companion and subordinate of man. What "stock and good-will" did he bring into the partnership besides his swiftness and powers of scenting and seizing his quarry? Let us look for a moment at his life at home as apart from his duties while hunting. In the first place, he evidently regards the dwelling of his master as his own place of abode in which he has certain vested interests, and, while he is complaisant and submissive to the regular inhabitants, he looks upon strangers of all kinds with suspicion, and regards their intrusion as an infringement of his rights or of his rudimentary sense of what is lawful. Although watch-dogs have doubtless been valued for many generations, and their distinctive qualities cultivated by artificial