For those of us who have been lucky enough to experience the atmosphere, warmth, and congeniality of the African fireside, the world of nature becomes an important part of our psyche. For, while we sit around a fire, the canopy of darkness is painted by a myriad of stars.
Outside the security of our protective fire however, lies a world of ongoing conflict and competition, all based on the need to survive. In Africa the wandering Jackals yap a claim to their territory and, unbeknown to the amiable gathering, encircle the little campsite in pursuit of any tempting morsel which may be left unattended, should the camp site be vacated.
This scenario is played out wherever the wilds of Africa lie unattended by the encroaching masses of humanity. The Jackal survives on its cunning, and indeed while not renown for its intelligence, can compete with its clever cousin, the fox in Europe.
This leads us comfortably into the domestication of wild animals, and specifically, the dog, for it is the urban fox of Britain, which gives us clues to how and why the dog became an important part of our environment, and indeed why the dog, actually decided to join the fragile ranks of human society.
In the UK, there are more and foxes moving from the countryside into the urban environment. They can be found, living mostly in river or canal banks, or indeed in the sewers of large cities. Their world, the world of the country, has become a world where food is more difficult to find and where the security and safety of their cubs is becoming less certain. Industrialization, human population, and the destruction of the natural habitat has forced the fox to seek greener pickings, and where best would you find these pickings, but on the doorstep of the very creature that has destroyed its natural home.
The fox survives, breeds and increases on the rubbish and waste than humanity creates. Of course this is not all that is happening. As time passes, the fox is becoming domesticated, with caring humans leaving food out, and even allowing cubs to be born in sheds. There are many who greet their local fox before leaving for work, and the day is not too far away when a fox may be found curled up in front of a warming fire in some suburban home.
The above is a repetition of a similar story that happened thousands of years ago. This time however, it was not the fox, but rather the wolf who decided it was easier to be fed than hunt for itself. Like the Jackal of Africa, wolves have circled fires for centuries, and indeed continue to do so today.
It must have taken only one, one wolf thousands of years ago to come close enough to some interested group of humans, who found that this particular animal, was worth tempting with a piece of meat from the fire. Each night, or day, the wolf would return, until a trusting relationship finally evolved.
And so humanities relationship with a dog’s ancient cousin, the wolf, was born. From these early days, the dog has become both a dependent and a friend to man. We can view the connection of the dog to its early cousin the wolf, by easily finding comparisons between the German Shepherd and the wolf.
So, it is from a small camp fire, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years ago, that the dog became part of our world, and to this day, the dog remains a constant non-judgemental companion and selfless friend.