Dogs and humans, two species that bonded a long time ago to make life a little easier. Both species discovered that working together was beneficial for individual survival. It all began centuries ago with canines being attracted to human settlements, where food leftover disposal provided a regular chance for a meal. Relative safe shelter in and around human settlements came in handy too. The social characteristics, of both canines and humans, quickly lead to tolerance and later even to friendship between the two species.
In ancient times humans still depended on foraging and hunting for their food supplies and the superb hunting instincts of canines turned out to be a great advantage. At first humans followed canine packs from a distance while they were hunting. Later the relationship between humans and canines became more close; they hunted together, sharing their prey and consuming it in each other’s presence. This early collaboration occurred across the globe and eventually resulted into multiple utility dogs. The fantastic characteristics and abilities of canines provided many benefits for numerous tasks. In addition canines proved to be wonderful companions to live and work with.
Through the ages humans managed to develop utility dogs for a lot of disciplines. The benefits gained from this collaboration were paid off by supplying food, shelter and company to the dogs. Today we still benefit from the skills of utility dogs in a variety of fields; livestock herding and guarding, K9 guard, protection and search tasks, hunting, etc.
The guarding of livestock and property and hunting were the first tasks for our ‘early’ dogs. Among the present livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) and property guard dogs we can find ancient dog breeds who are still very close to nature. In various regions across the world we still find people that live the ‘old’ (traditional) way of life, herding their livestock through wild nature areas and living a self-containing life. Due to the (more than welcome and much needed) 20th century nature protection laws, more and more modern livestock owners in and around wilderness areas are turning to LGDs again too. A good trend, yet full of challenges.
The K9 disciplines: guard and protection dogs and search dogs are perhaps the largest scene of utility dogs nowadays. Governmental organizations like the army and police as well as various non-governmental organizations work with K9 dogs worldwide to solve and prevent crimes, create safety and security and finding numerous unwanted, threatening stuff. All our utility dogs love to work, using their talents and skills to do what they do best. Utility dogs obtain mental and physical satisfaction while performing within their purpose and working together with their human companions.
The title ‘Man’s best friend’ is well deserved by our wonderful canine companions. Like all tasks we gave them they execute this one superbly. They do. However when it comes to our responsibility to them, a rather sad conclusion is made. The selfish nature which is present among mankind, combined with the never ending thirst to dominate all other creatures unfortunately results in a lot of misery. Of course there still are plenty of people who recognize this and ‘Man’s best friend’ relies on those people. We owe them big time, now and in the future.
Dogs, and especially utility dogs, are my passion and in my opinion we should always give them the opportunity to do what they are meant for. Provide them with the best care, companionship and the opportunity to reach full potential. Allow the dog to work within its purpose, or at least the ability to use its skills and talents; base your choice of breed on that. They became ‘Man’s best friend’ because of their ability to work for and with us and we should never deny them that.