Walking the Dog–A 26,000 Year Old Tradition

by Darrin on January 27, 2012

I’ve been a dog lover my whole life.

I was born and raised in a house with three golden retrievers, so I suppose I had no choice in the matter. I was destined to be a dog person.

Yet with great dog comes great responsibility, and unless you get a breed with a naturally low activity rate, you’re going to have to walk that little bugger.

Not only is this a great opportunity for daily low-intensity exercise, it also has far-reaching benefits, which I have found for myself firsthand.

Dogs and Humans, a Brief History

The history of humans and dogs is foggy for obvious reasons, but one thing’s for sure: it goes back a looooooooong way.

The commonly accepted view is that dogs first became domesticated around 15,000 years ago, predating even agriculture, but this idea has been challenged in recent years.

France’s Chauvet Cave is best known for its cave paintings, but it also contains some curious footprints. A young child holding a torch walked side by side with a canine companion about 26,000 years ago, both leaving behind tracks that have lasted to this day.

It was the first known existence of walking the dog.

And just recently, a skull was found in a Siberian cave that appears to be a 33,000 year old domesticated dog skull.

It’s commonly believed that dogs descended from weak wolves, who would stay close to human camps and eat their scraps and waste.

This paradigm is slowly shifting to one of co-evolution: that dogs helped us evolve just as much as we helped them to.

It now seems more likely that humans first teamed up with wolves while both were hunting the same animals. The mutually beneficial combination of such things as dogs’s speed and sense of smell with humans’s endurance and tool-making made everyone involved successful.

The success of this symbiotic relationship meant that humans and some wolves–the ancestors of today’s dogs–began living together.

The One Chore I Enjoy

I hate chores and errands. Hate them hate them hate them.

It’s not because I’m an irresponsible man-child, but because I know they’ll never be finished.

I have gone through periods of domesticity before, and have literally spent every non-sleeping, non-working moment of my life cleaning, organizing, doing maintenance, and the like.

But even then, I couldn’t get everything done. And my place still looked like shit.

For the most part, I think that what I put into chores far exceeds what I get out of them, by a proportion of 1,000 to 1. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

And yet you HAVE to do at least a little bit of the damned things, which leaves me one cranky dude.

(Honestly, it isn’t things like flashy cars and big houses that motivate me to try to get ahead in life, it’s earning enough money that I can outsource literally every chore and errand. That’s how I’ll know I’ve made it!)

And yet there’s one chore that I actually look forward to each and every day–even though it takes up somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes–taking my dog Oscar for a walk.

Why?

As a longtime dog lover, I really enjoy getting to hang out with my buddy each day with no distractions. In addition, I’ve found that I can get my best thinking done during this time. Again, no distractions.

Man’s Best Friend

Everyone has their “rituals,” otherwise tedious tasks repeated every day that serve as an anchor to re-energize and reinvigorate them.

Maybe it’s shaving. Perhaps it’s brushing your teeth. But I can say in all honesty that if you have a dog, you might be surprised at how much more productive you can be, how much more fun you can have, and how much easier it is to make physical activity a part of your life when you volunteer to walk the dog.

It’s a tradition that is literally thousands of years old, coded into your DNA.


So one of my big goals this year was to publish an article each and every Friday. Less than a month in I’m sorry to say that I already won’t be able to fulfill this.

I’m heading out of the country for a couple of weeks, where I won’t be touching a computer, and try as I did to write four posts in a week (including a guest post I’m working on) it just ain’t gonna happen.

I’ll make it up for y’all by publishing a couple of “bonus posts” when I get back into town.

There’s just way too much to be taken care of right now… and I’m so damned tired. Talk to you guys again in three weeks!

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