by Lauren Lee
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and love is in the air. You may be celebrating friendship, family or even better, your pet! Specifically, dogs are arguably one of the most loving companions. Their adorable faces and luscious fur coats make our hearts melt. Especially when they stare at us with puppy dog eyes. However, have you ever wondered how these bonds were created? Or how the mighty wolf ended up to be the tiny ball of fluff that sits in our arms? There has been recent debate about the domestication of dogs and whether it was the cause of humans. Some argue that dogs evolved from wolves to have differences in their DNA. Apart from the obvious appearance, it makes them more friendly and sociable.
It’s in the DNA
WBSCR17 is a gene, found in dogs, that is linked to Williams-Beuren syndrome in humans. Williams-Beuren syndrome is a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder that causes impaired learning ability and hyper sociability. When compared to wolves DNA, who do not have this gene, there is evidence that our friendly pets have the genetics to interact more easily with humans. Dogs are more alike to humans than we initially thought. This gene can also contribute to dogs’ ability to adapt to living with humans. Such as, adjusting their diet or participating in highly interactive situations.
However, some also argue that due to humans being in control of breeding dogs over several generations, they are friendly. Selective breeding/artificial selection is the process of humans controlling the breeding of animals or plants to gain specific traits/characteristics of certain species. The “friendly” traits were chosen and spread by mix breeding carried out by humans. Though, there is also debate about anthropomorphizing dogs which can seem to be inaccurate and biased. Anthropomorphizing is when you give human characteristics or emotions to non-human entities.
Nevertheless, we should always appreciate our loving companions. Try going home and treating your dog with a warm embrace to celebrate your special relationship. Maybe even give your Valentine’s date a delicious bone to bury!