The story of humans and dogs is unique on the planet. If there was an observer of our planet from another planet, this coexistence would capture their attention, as to how one species is involved in another’s life. There is a special chemistry between dogs and humans, the roots of which lie deep in time. Humans and dogs, these two beings, have been living together in the world for millennia really, for around 30 thousand years. Dogs evolved from wolves about 20 to 40 thousand years ago. Scientific discoveries show early wolf-like fossils, but a little different – probably the dog appeared at this point – while later fossils tend to appear more and more together with fossils of humans. Thus, a special companionship of millennia began on the planet.
There is no other such special interaction between two living beings on the planet. Humans have created communities in every corner of the globe, and in whichever corner of the earth people are, the dog is there, too. The similar social aspects of the nature of these two different creatures played a significant role in the dog’s interaction and integration into the human family. Companionship and collectivity are in the nature of dogs, which explains their place in the lives of humans. As social animals, they want to harmoniously integrate into a group, while being able to emotionally understand other dogs. The evolution of the human-dog relationship is remarkable. Dogs have evolved as a species in interaction with humans. They also evolved into different shapes based on the conditions of the human societies in which they participated. Along the way, evolution has emotionally linked the dog to humans, while giving dogs the ability to understand human emotions. Dogs are evolutionarily adapted to the human world and to the emotional world of humans.
The dog is evolutionarily adapted to humans. The similar collective aspect of the nature of the two creatures and the thousands of years of coexistence and co-evolution, have created a unique chemistry and a special connection between the two beings.
There is an emotional relationship and emotional communication between dogs and humans, a fact that has been evident for nearly 30 thousand years of living together but also something that has been studied and proven scientifically. Dogs offer companionship, devotion and love, which develop in their relationship with humans, a relationship that has been the subject of extensive research.
Coexistence of millennia has developed a bond of communication. The dog has the ability to combine two different sources of sensory information. It is a being, with a unique ability to observe, just like the human being. According to a university study, dogs can recognize the vocabulary and tone of human speech, which means they are able to process them both in terms of words and the way they are used each time. Dogs, like humans, use different parts of their brain to understand vocabulary and style, and then combine information to make sense. Additionally, dogs are excellent translators of human body language: they read body language and respond accordingly. Research also shows that dogs can read and understand human emotions. Correspondingly, dogs communicate with humans in many different ways: they communicate through a particular grid of movements, sounds and looks; they have their own way of expressing feelings, needs, desires and interact with humans; and they have their own way of apologizing. It has also been observed that dogs who spend more time with a human can communicate even better. The relationship of devotion and communication between dog and human is unique.
From the long evolutionary coexistence of the two species, for many thousands of years, it has emerged from research that dogs and humans who have lived together for years form social dyads, and interact with one another in terms of personality and psychology. Dogs are sensitive to people’s emotions and can therefore feel accordingly and readjust their behavior. Similarities are observed in the personality of the dog and the human, while there is an influence on the quality of the relationship with the human being living together with a dog on the personality of the dog. Dogs have their own personality, which evolves over time, as it does with humans. They experience pain in the same way we do.
Various scientific studies have shown that living together with a dog contributes to people’s physical and mental health, factors that interconnect for well-being and a better life.
People who live with dogs show improvement in their health. Living together with a dog can benefit human health in many ways. It is associated with better heart health, while also being a drive for more activity in people’s daily lives. People who live or grow up with dogs have a stronger immune system and are less likely to have allergies. Cohabitation with a dog strengthens the human immune system, and this is especially true in children. Children who grow up with a dog have an early immune system activation, while they develop more antibodies and are less likely to develop allergies. Cohabitation with a dog can make the child healthier.
Another important aspect is the contribution of service dogs adapting to various situations, difficulties and conditions that occur in human life, such as mobility problems, blindness and a number of other cases.
At the same time, coexistence of humans and dogs has a positive effect on human mental health. Research has constantly shown that dogs provide psychological benefits to humans. Such coexistence reduces and fights people’s mental problems, as it has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression and the feeling of loneliness. What researchers have observed in different environments is that dogs provide well-being. People with dogs felt less anxiety, mental confusion and tension. The presence of a dog reduces pain, irritation and stress, as well as other symptoms. Contact with a dog causes a drop in cortisol levels, a hormone that affects human anxiety.
Dogs not only can understand the emotions and language of the human body, but also when interacting with humans, both bodies secrete oxytocin, the hormone commonly linked to emotions and feelings, the expression of love and protection. A consistent laboratory finding is that when humans interact with dogs, levels of oxytocin, the “hormone of love,” increase in dogs as well as humans. Therefore interaction with a dog and the love it offers generously increase the amount of oxytocin, the chemical in the brain that causes well-being. The release of oxytocin reveals the dog’s love for the human being, but also the love for the dog, love is mutual. These studies show that this brain chemical plays a role in the interaction between affection and receptiveness in both species. Oxytocin helps the brain to record social concepts, such as empathy, trust and collectivity, as memories of social skills.
Taking care of a dog offers joy and develops a sense of companionship. A large number of people find companionship in these so special creatures. They enable the individual to come out of themselves towards another being. Also children growing up with a dog learn to read various emotions of others and to show understanding. Both in children and adults, living together with a dog activates and nourishes the human sense of offering and generosity, turning humans away from their individualism and making them more collective and solidary.
Studies have shown that love for animals such as dogs is also directly related to the human need to come closer to the natural world, to reconnect to the world of nature, our creator. Human nature seeks harmony with our natural environment, being part of it.
The dog is a fellow-travel being to humans. Humans and dogs are companions and this is a deeper and genetic matter, they share a deep biological relationship. All these facts are really special about these awesome creatures, that have been part of our lives and we of theirs. It has been a unique coexistence, a sharing of lives on the planet between two beings, a relationship of our species with another species. We as humans can only appreciate, enjoy and contribute to this fellow-traveling offered by nature. We can only honor this friendship of millennia.