Woof! Snuffle! Lick! Dog cuddles!

Dogs, dogs, dogs! Our canine friends are forever embedded in our human lives. Across all cultures, they are constant companions to families, neighborhoods, and communities. 

I grew up with many dogs, and I can truly say my life has been enriched by all of them.

I can list my own dogs in chronological order from the time I learned to walk: Victor, Pepper, Pip-Squeak, Murphy, Beauregard, Mingus, and Suki; my sons’ dogs—Chewbacca, Sandemus, Kiwi, and Luna; and other meaningful hounds I’ve been close to—Queenie, Nipper, Ring, Harold, Mouse, and Brownie. When I walk around the block, I encounter more dogs; in fact, most times I recognize the dog before I recognize the owner! Pooches are everywhere!
Some of my earliest memories are cuddling up in a dog fort surrounded by the earthy smells of a canine lair, then falling asleep with my head on a soft, warm, furry belly. I watched puppies being born in our barn on Almaden Road when South San Jose was one big orchard full of prunes, walnuts, and apricots. I’ve thrown thousands of balls and sticks for my doggy companions and been rewarded with saliva-drenched fingers and sore arms. And I’ve been licked to death by long pink tongues of limitless devotion.

One of the first books I ever read was The Call of the Wild by Jack London. It was followed by Old Yeller and White Fang, all stories about the bonds between man and dog and the elemental lessons of nature upon both. Trust, love, maturity, instinct, and survival are common themes emphasized by the writers—valuable subjects for any young adult. And I can’t help but include my novel, Five Hundred Moons—in which a dog, Calo, becomes an invaluable companion to the character, Benito. The Ohlone portion of my book also incorporates a canine component, a pair of breeding mongrels are traded for some precious cinnabar. I don’t think my novel would be complete without those passages. 

It has always amazed me how diverse the dog population is. How can a foo-foo Yorkshire be related to a Great Dane? But it’s true—all dogs are the descendants of an extinct line of wolves, a splinter group from the grey wolves that we have today. The Pleistocene wolves, which exhibited less aggressive behavior, interacted with humans beginning about thirty thousand years ago, just before the onset of the last Ice Age. It was a time when megafauna roamed the earth, the hunting of which required traits that people and dogs share—that being complex social grouping, hunting in packs, and developing powers of cooperation.
The cohabitation of these two species was mutually beneficial. Food procurement, safety, and the forming of strong family bonds all were enhanced by human–canine interaction. It has been posited by many anthropologists that since the canine genus existed long before Homo sapiens, humans have learned much from our wolf friends, helping us to evolve into the exceptional social beings that we are today. In essence, we have domesticated each other, and the story about a boy being raised by wolves could hold true for the entire human race.

Woof! Snuffle! Lick! Dog cuddles!
Woof! Snuffle! Lick! Dog cuddles!

Jennie and I have been dogless for some time; although, we get to play with the aforementioned Kiwi and Luna.

Despite the dog hair and constant bagging of poop, it’s great to have animals in your life. Interacting with them summons the emotional and cognitive bonds that dogs and humans have shared for millennia.

How can you not feel cheerful and untroubled when a cold, wet nose nudges your palm, seeking the affection of a caressing hand, the petting a mutual understanding of our continuing partnership between the species?

Photos by Buzz Anderson. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.

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One Comment
  1. Leslie Crosby

    A wonderful descriptive perspective of canine companionships. Anyone affected by this bond of love can truly relate.

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