Through the ages, man has called dog one of his closest companions. He has also called him protector, helper, lifesaver, and provider. Dogs are an incredible friend to man because they have been there through the years, through any task and any challenge, but the relationship between dog and man goes a bit deeper (and older).
The friendship between dog and man dates back to 15,000 years when dogs, who originated from a common ancestor, followed man throughout his migrations in East Asia. Psychologically, this connection makes sense because both man and dog are social beings. Neither can thrive when alone, and both benefit mentally (and often physically) from such a strong bond. Having a dog at home gives us a listening ear, a warm paw to hold, and even strong legs to run beside.
It’s a symbiotic relationship, since dogs have been domesticated to a point where they need us to survive, and we tend to find that we need them almost as much.
The dog-wolf similarity is significant to the meaning behind the phrase “dog’s are a man’s best friend.” Dogs share 99% of their DNA with wolves. However, unlike wolves, dogs exude a sense of warmness to other dogs and humans that differs greatly from a wolf’s reaction to others. Dogs are, indeed, social pack animals who require attention, affection, and everything in between, making them a prime candidate for a man’s best friend.
Dogs have proven themselves time and again to be loyal, kind, understanding, and have an indomitable spirit. They are able to greet us happily after what may have been the worst day of our lives, and make us feel better with a wag of the tail and a playful grin. They are at our sides when we are sick, sad, and lonely. They love us even when we are grumpy, rude, or downright mean. Dogs are the ones who seem to understand us on a level even we cannot fathom.
Whether as an assistant to a shepherd, a strong nose and swift feet for a hunter, eyes and ears for the blind and deaf, or simply a companion unlike any other, dogs help humans with day-to-day tasks, many of which may not be possible without them. Dating back to the 16th century, dogs have served as service helpers for the blind, and by the 1970’s, the trend of training dogs for people with disabilities flourished.
As if that isn’t an all-encompassing task in itself, dogs also help prevent possible crimes and save lives, as in the cases of drug-sniffing canines. German shepherds, a 200-year-old breed, are most commonly seen as working dogs who serve as canine police all around the world.
Plain and simple: we call dogs our best friends because we love them. We take pride in our dogs, and sometimes show them off to others as we would our children. We play with them, hold them close, and rely on them for any number of reasons. The reason that we call dogs “man’s best friend” is a simple one. It is because dogs allow us to be their best friends.