This is a story. It's not necessarily true. I could be true. But, there is no written evidence that it is true, so...it's probably fiction.
I intend it as fiction. But isn't all fiction based in reality, somehow? Even science fiction? And horror stories?
Let us begin...
Once upon a time, about 30,000 years ago they say, wolves became dogs. It's unclear without further investigation how wolves came to be known as "dogs" rather than merely tame wolves, but let's not worry about the nomenclature for now.
In our story, a wolf lived on the edges of a small gathering of humans. At some point, the humans - let us not judge them, this is so long ago, they cannot be held accountable - "killed a female wolf and then brought home her pups. Recent studies on silver foxes suggest that when the most docile pups are kept and cared for, it takes just 10 generations of breeding for morphological changes to take effect."
The pups were raised for work. Not fun. Not companionship. Not love and affection.
The humans saw opportunity. The pups from the wolves (this had to be happening in more places than just our little human gathering, don't you think?) over time, became used to being included in hunts, travel, and other household activities. To my mind, in our story, the animals began to appreciate the good life they had with these two-legged, hairless beasts. And the hairless beasts had to appreciate having a creature about that could keep other animals at bay, be used as pack animals to carry items from a hunt, and more. The relationship was symbiotic, as most history tells us.
Over time, the wolves with the tamer, more approachable personalities...became dogs. As they showed their willingness to be submission to the humans, they also likely wormed their way into the home and hearth, from outside the cave door (we are being rather loose with our terms, you understand). And as that happened, I suspect the attraction from the younger folks in the group gradually moved from seeing these animals as merely worker-bees, to seeing them as companions.
I can picture a newly recognized 'dog' ... having come from several generations of wolf (and this means only a few years, not 20 or 30, you understand - generations of wolves happen faster than generations of people), becoming attached to a particular family, and even to a particular person in the family. I can see the child accepting the dog as a treasured friend, not just a creature that hangs around and scavenges food.
Ah, the deep love of a child for his dog. And vice-versa. There are books and movies made of such things!
And this is why I write the story of the domestication of dogs, in my own words. Because I don't see articles that mention how personality plays a part in this gradual domestication. I believe certain of the animals were more amenable to living among humans. And certain humans were more amenable to having the dogs in the home, not just out in the yard (whatever that means... we're talking a time when people lived in some sort of man-made shelter, I think... ).
The affection between people and dogs came from personality traits in both. Again, my brazen opinion, folks. I did not research this. I just have to believe, as in many things studied historically, emotion plays a part. The emotion we feel for our pets. And the emotion our pets feel for us.
The article that stirred this post, this story, came from The Washington Post's article, Dear Science, why do we love our pets? In which they conclude,
"...domesticated dogs are very childlike: They exhibit several behaviors usually found only among juveniles in wild animals, such as licking (or “kissing”) their owners' faces, and they're unable to survive on their own. When Wynne's family adopted their dog, his wife (“who is an engineer and very practical,” he said) remarked that perhaps they should have had more kids.
“She perceived that same buttons were being pressed that were pressed when we had our child,” Wynne said.
Maybe that's all there is to it: Humans are programmed to love soft and helpless things."
The topic made me pause and think - love is such a strange thing, so often inexplicable, that we humans continue to ponder it, among ourselves and our pets, and many other instances. And, we seldom come to the final conclusion - because what you believe may be different than what I believe and what history shows us, is not as trust-worthy as we would like.
I end my story by saying - the wolf that became the dog brought such joy to many lives, who cares how it happened or why it happened or the reason for the joy?
Let's just enjoy it.