Man’s Oldest Ally, the Dog

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Man’s Oldest Ally, The Dog

If the dog, in his centuries-long association with man, had never saved a life, rounded up a flock of sheep, helped to track down meat, or pulled a polar sledge, this oldest friend of the human race would still have given full payment for his room and board.

From that ancient partnership the man has benefited fully as much as the animal. By throwing in his lot with his caveman neighbours, the dog of prehistoric ages did much to give his two-legged ally dominance over the beasts and helped to speed human progress.

Dogs do the shopping in the Azores, pull carts in Newfoundland, Quebec, Belgium, The Netherlands and elsewhere. They guide the blind in the city streets and, in countless ways, in many parts of the earth, they are helpful to do the work of the world.

Yet man’s biggest gain from relationship cannot be measured in terms of labour done. The companionship and affection of a good dog are priceless, and often the four-footed party can set its friend and overlord an excellent example in conduct and character. What man could not observe with profit the dignity and forbearance of a fine Great Dane, slow to anger though a peerless fighter?

Whenever man has travelled, his dogs have gone with him. There are few sweeter sounds in all outdoors than the music of a pack of foxhounds in full cry. You can tell hounds are enjoying themselves. This is the work they love; this is what they were bred for. Their stirring cry, ringing through hill and dale, tells the skilled huntsman the story of the chase, though he may be a long way off. Individual voices are recognised. “Hark to Marmaduke”, cries the huntsman. “Hark to Hannibal”, “Hark to Valiant”.

Among themselves, dogs plainly have a language, a well-understood means of communication. How many times have you noticed your dog, lying quietly at your feet while a neighbour’s dog barked steadily, suddenly prick up its ears at a subtle change, a new note in the distant barking, and rush out to look into the matter. To a dog’s amazingly sensitive hearing even the sound of a particular motor car is easily recognised.

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About this record

Written by A Schoolboy in 1948

Published here 03 Nov 2022 and originally published 1996

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