Last week, I introduced you to some of the dogs of Ushuaia. They were remarkably affable and remained totally relaxed among the throngs of people and traffic.
I was reminded of a National Geographic Explorer episode called How Man Tamed the Wild (it was a fascinating episode on many levels – I highly recommend it). Among other topics, the show talked about what traits likely led to wolf domestication, and it looked at feral dogs as an example of an in-between state, similar to what might have occurred when the first wolves hung around early humans. One of the primary characteristics for the early ancestors of dogs was curiosity. Another characteristic–and one that’s also crucial for feral dogs–is a high degree of tolerance to strangers. The Ushuaia pups had this in spades. (This was one academic point that I had an opportunity to test first hand, when I snapped their puppy portraits.)
For an excerpt from the National Geographic Explorer episode that discusses the importance of curiosity in the evolution of the modern dog, click here.