Dogs That Changed the World, Part 1 on PBS This Sunday

This I have GOT to see! It sounds like Haint as a documentary. Okay, so Haint (also known as Haint: A Tale of Extraterrestrial Intervention...


Nature series.jpg

This I have GOT to see! It sounds like Haint as a documentary. Okay, so Haint (also known as Haint: A Tale of Extraterrestrial Intervention and Love Across Time and Space and you can see the cover on the right) IS a novel and the dogs are really higher beings but, as those of you who’ve read Haint know, the dogs chose to evolve in a way to interact with humans. Sorry for the shameless promotion but I just could not help but point out the similarities.

But anyway, this two-part series looks really interesting. So much for that somebody-tamed-a wolf thing.

Thanks to for this review. I know where I’ll be Sunday evening.

PBS’ Nature ponders Dogs That Changed the World

Mcclatchy Newspapers

PBS’ Nature series starts with an absurdly adorable two-parter Sunday night called Dogs That Changed the World.

If you’re a dog person, you know how they changed it. Dogs are just cool.

Put a dog in a room, the room’s a better place.

Yeah, I’m a dog guy.

But since this is Nature, the show (at 7 p.m. Sunday and April 29 on Channel 8) is about a little more than that, although it’s infused with the same cheerful optimism dogs seem to have.

This is the story of where our best animal friends came from. Nature calls it “the most breathtaking evolutionary leap ever made,” and one that changed human life in just 15,000 years.

Dogs trace back to the Mesolithic era of those 15,000 years ago, when humans started settling in villages.

The long-held theory was that humans domesticated wolves, who morphed into our doggy pals.

But some scientists now think that couldn’t have happened. They say wolves need to be adopted very, very young no older than 13 days to be domesticated, and that those Mesolithic humans didn’t have the time or abilities to raise wolf pups.

Instead, scientists think wolves actually domesticated themselves.

Some ancient wolves began to eat the garbage the villages created, which was an easier source of food than hunting.

And the wolves with genetic codes that made them less afraid of humans got the most food and won the evolutionary battle among wolves near those towns.

More simply, the wolves with more natural tameness stayed around humans and reproduced among themselves.

The traits that go with tameness including doglike qualities of curiosity, playfulness and friendliness emerged in later generations.

Humans responded to those friendly wolves because we seem to have a genetic disposition toward cute pets.

But humans who liked dogs also benefited, because dogs learned to help humans hunt, herd and guard their homes.

“Maybe we’d still be hunter-gatherers if it weren’t for dogs,” one scientist said.


Part 2 the next week focuses on how humans bred dogs into the melange of critters they are now there are more breeds of dogs than any species on the planet and that helped humans even more. It’s always about us.

The show is full of intriguing, smart science. Great stuff, really.

But the biggest draw is the solid hour of dog charisma. It’s a parade of puppies playing, puppies with kids, dogs with kids, dogs with puppies, and dogs rolling and running, chewing and tugging and generally looking like those charming critters we are drawn to. Plus, there’s a dog that packs a suitcase.

Nature says every culture on every land mass on Earth has evidence of adopting and adoring dogs, and that more than 750 million people share their lives with dogs, which shows that humans can evolve, too.

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