I have always felt that every creature, every species we share the planet with was put here to serve a purpose. There is a balance that exists in nature. Every creature exists because it has its own role to play in maintaining that balance. What is the role of dogs in the natural order? I have come to believe that dogs are here to be with human beings, us, that nature has uniquely intended dogs to be our companions.
Evidence exists that would suggest that wolves, from which all dogs are descended, have accompanied man as many as 15,000 years ago. The first pet wolves probably assisted their human masters with hunting and defending. Man has made pets out of all sorts of animals besides dogs. Amongst them are cats, fishes, birds, reptiles, rodents, and horses to name a few. Some even make pets out of insects. But it is the dog that has just the right combination of attributes that fit us perfectly.
Dogs possess just enough intelligence to be teachable but not so much that its needs for mental stimulation are too burdensome to reasonably provide. Dogs have a pack mentality with the capacity to accept humans as pack members and are protected and defended as such. Big dogs are strong enough to adequately defend against attackers but not so big that they require any kind of special housing. Dogs do not have special dietary needs. Dogs are genetically easy enough to breed into variations that fulfill specific needs like pulling sleds, herding livestock, or hunting rats. Nowadays, if we need an animal to provide assistance to the blind, or assist the police in catching a criminal, or detect drugs, explosives, or survivors in pile of rubble that we might not otherwise be able to find it is the dog that we turn to.
Sure, a cat can keep you company but will never protect you against an attacker. You can't pet a fish. Reptiles and birds aren't capable of thinking of you as family. You can't take a hamster or a rabbit for a walk. Don't get me started on insects. And while a dog can't plow your field or give you a ride like a horse can, a dog can still herd the horse and keep watch over it.
Dogs have been called "man's best friend" with good reason. They've earned it.
Thank you, Cesar Millan, for providing me with the inspiration to write this.