Dogs are a common sight in almost every part of the world. Some researchers believe that
“wolves and dogs split into different species around 100,000 years ago” (Animal Freedom, n.d.).
In the past, dogs were probably used for hunting and herding. While this is still true today, dogs
are used for a variety of purposes, and dogs benefit human’s lives in many different ways. For
example, dogs can be used as service animals, for various types of security roles, and, of course,
for pets. In fact, dogs are some of our very best friends.
Dogs have been trained to provide a variety of services. For example, some dogs are
specially trained to assist blind people. Dorothy Harrison is credited with beginning the formal
training of guide dogs, after visiting a school in Potsdam, Germany that trained German
Shepherds to assist blinded German war veterans (Muhlenberg College, n.d.). It is difficult to
know the exact number of guide dogs in service worldwide, but it is estimated that there are
about 10,000 dogs assisting blind people in the United States and Canada (Guide Dogs for the
Blind, n.d.). Guide dogs have given many blind people freedom and independence again.
Dogs have also been trained to provide specialized security services. It is not uncommon
to see drug-sniffing dogs at the airport screening luggage and cargo for illegal drugs. Depending
on the breed, a dog can smell up to 10 million times better than a human because they have as
many as 300 million scent glands, compared to about five million in humans (Dog Breed Info
Center, n.d.). In fact, bloodhounds are a particularly useful for search-and-rescue operations and
for tracking criminals. According to the Dog Breed Info Center (n.d.), they have been known to
follow scents over four days old for over 100 miles, and their “evidence is admissible in a court
of law.” Having a dog on the job makes us feel safer and more secure.
Of course, dogs are most often kept as pets. Although some researchers believe that
wolves and dogs diverged around 100,000 years ago, the “first demonstrable signs of
relationships between man and wolves date back 10,000 to 15,000 years ago” (Hirst, 2008). In
the United States, almost two-thirds of households have a pet; that statistic translates to about 78
million dogs and 86 million cats that are classified as pets (ASPCA, 2012). People enjoy dogs as
pets for many reasons, but companionship and loyalty are probably the two most common
reasons. Many dog owners consider their dog as member of the...