A former university research professor argues that humans’ ancient relationship with dogs makes them the perfect therapy animals.
Despite the incredulity of his colleagues, Dr. Boris Levinson pioneered the use of canines as therapy animals back in the 1950s by bringing his pet dog, Jingles, to his practice to make his child patients feel more comfortable. As it turns out, Sigmund Freud had earlier seen similar results with patients and his own dog, Jofi, though his findings were not made public until years after his death. What makes canines such effective therapy animals? As Hagner (Career Advancement, 2002, etc.) writes in his preface, humans’ history with dogs is “so long, in fact, that our two species have undergone biological changes over the millennia as we adapted to one another. The secure feeling we get when man’s best friend is near us is by now hard-wired into our biology.” In this book, the author traces the history of this alliance with dogs, which began when the first friendly wolves entered into a symbiotic relationship with humans over 36,000 years ago, guarding sleeping people in exchange for food. Hagner credits this security innovation—and the increased sleep it afforded—for the explosion of new technologies that occurred during the late Paleolithic era, which began 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. From domestication to sensory interaction to the place of dogs in world mythologies and their uses across cultures, the author shows how this unique pact developed, placing an emphasis on how canines shaped humans. Hagner writes for the layperson, clearly elucidating a number of complex areas, including anthropology, psychology, and human biology: “The genes that control digestion in dogs have adapted to digest the foods humans enjoy better than the diet of wolves. This is part of the reason why what are called feral dogs today primarily eat scavenged human food.” The author is an unabashed dog lover, which sometimes shines through in his preferences for discussing canines. His contentions are generally quite convincing, and those who already attribute great importance to dogs should be happy to be armed with these arguments as to their role in the development of civilization.
An engaging and informative account of the special bond between people and canines.