Dogs are different

Remember, you heard it here first: dogs are qualitatively different from other animals.

While reading Temple Grandin's Animals Make Us Human, with its comments on the non-tame-ness of ranched cattle and the differences in the domestic evolution between cats and dogs, it occurred to me how singularly in the animal world is our experience with dogs and yet how often they seem to be used as our emotional gateway onto the animal world. The quintessential example here is the cover of the book The Bond, which I mentioned in my post eating kittens. Importantly, the bond with dogs shown on the cover of this book is definitively not like the bond we experience with any other animals. Is it an overstatement to say that dogs and man evolved together? That human history can be told only vis-a-vis dogs?

My guess is that, in addition to finding interesting trivia like the fact that dogs are the only animals that track human gaze, we are going to find out that dogs are qualitatively different from other animals vis-a-vis humans. Rather than being seen as the best example of how humans can communicate with and appreciate animals, dogs should be seen as a unique experiment in nature that can't be used to examine our relationships with the animal world at large.