The bond shared by humans and their dogs goes back to ancient times, a study found. Anthropologist Rob Losey discovered an ancient burial site where dogs were buried alongside humans.
Losey, from the University of Alberta, started to analyze the bond between humans and their canine pets 15 years ago. His research included an investigation of a massive excavation site near Siberia's Lake Baikal, the world's biggest freshwater lake.
Underneath Lake Baikal's bed is an ancient burial ground aged around 5,000 to 8,000 years old. This ancient burial site holds some of the world's earliest evidence of canine domestication. It also revealed the respect these ancient pets were given in prehistoric societies.
Losey found dogs adorned with trinkets and keepsakes buried alongside humans. One of his findings included a grave where a man was buried with his two dogs, one on each side.
"This really indicates to me a close, personal and emotional relationship with the dogs ... these people knew them to have afterlives like their own," said Losey.
Since ancient times, humans have been burying their beloved canine pets with much care in cemeteries, along with trinkets and other items of sentimental value. The care humans have shown their dogs even in ancient societies is truly astounding.
The dog bones' chemical analysis showed that the Siberian dogs were given the same food - table scraps - as humans. This suggested that the common practice of begging and giving food from the table has been going on since ancient times.
Losey said that the dogs were probably the humans' companions at work. The canines helped their humans in daily tasks like moving or hunting. They could be protecting their owners from other people or even animals.
"They were part of a working group, but also a close personal companion that people had close emotional ties to," said Losey.
Losey is currently studying another Siberian Arctic dog burial site with more 100 ancient canines. The site is said to have the biggest archeological collection of dog remains ever found in the Arctic.
The ongoing research has found evidence that some canines were also eaten by humans. Losey said the archeological picture is unfinished and that further study is needed to study the complexity of the human-dog bond.
Losey's passion for canines goes beyond his research. He has a black Labrador named Guinness.
Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões | Flickr