People love their dogs, that is certainly true. But too often, we see them as helpless little things, cute and clever, but not much more. Or they see them as little fuzzy people. They are much more than this.
Dogs are descended from wolves, one of the more successful hunters on the planet. Yes, they too start life as helpless little balls of fur, but they grow and they learn. Just to survive, they have to learn about their environment. To hunt they have to be completely aware of their physical surroundings, not just the lay of their home turf, but the way it changes by the season. They have to read the signs of immediate weather patterns, when drought seems to be moving in, or when a heavy winter is approaching. Much of this they sense through those amazing noses they have, and much is learned by observing their elders. This learning cannot stop at adulthood. In a constantly changing world, learning can never stop.
Young wolves also have to learn the rules of pack life. The wolf must live in harmony with those in its group. Peace and cooperation are essential for group hunting. Hierarchies must be established and hurt feelings must be soothed because the failure of one member in its role may be the difference between survival and death.
Despite these heavy labors, wolves , like our dogs like to play, in fact they have to. It is a way to increase bonding and deepen relationships. Also, they just seem to have fun.
Our dogs are the close relatives of these wolves. In evolutionary terms, they are not very far removed from them at all. So when you look at your dog, consider the fact that you are interacting with a highly intelligent, highly social creature, and highly aware individual. They have very sensative feelings, are loyal to the end and are always looking for ways to interact with the other members of their pack, you and your family. Be aware that your furry little friend is a highly evolved being, the direct descendent of one of earth’s most successful predators. Then go play catch with the little guy.