Life Here

December 2, 2021 By Bob Lunning

Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

We think the dog was domesticated around 15,000 to 40,000 YBP. I had to ask my close friend, Mr. Google, what YBP stands for. “Years Before Present.” Actually, YBP was crafted for those of us who are starting to have difficulty trying to keep up with BC and AD and CE and BCE and then trying to do the math — do I add or subtract 2,000 years?

Our relationship with the dog predates agriculture. It was likely the hunter-gatherers who first befriended the dog. One of the most important transitions in human history was the domestication of animals. It was about 11,000 YBP when we domesticated cattle, sheep and goats. Experts completely disagree which geographic area the dog was initially domesticated in, however most feel it was in Eurasia and Siberia.

The gray wolf is the dog’s closest ancestor, but they evolved separately. The origin of dogs is uncertain as it is couched in the biography of wolf populations between 12,000 to 130,000 YBP. Most experts agree that man’s best friend evolved from wolves. Evidence shows that early North American dogs migrated from northeast Siberia around 9,000 YBP to North America. If Paleolithic dogs still existed as a breed, they would probably resemble the Siberian Husky. They would be considerably larger, probably comparable to a large sheep dog.

Nowadays, our pet dog has become part of the family. On average, they live from 10 to 15 years, and it is heart wrenching to lose our beloved friend. Recently, one of our residents called upon the Termites to help with a canine issue. It seems that an elderly dog could no longer jump up onto the family couch. The resident had a sheet on the couch and the dog’s favorite spot in the house was on the couch, curled up in the corner, looking out the back windows. The Termite assigned to this project had dealt with previous elderly dog issues and was more than happy to assist.

Measurements were taken of the couch and two solutions rose to the forefront: a set of steps or a ramp. The resident was consulted about the possibilities and a consensus was reached. Steps won out. Two wooden scrap shelves were used, and two six-inch-high steps were constructed. The wood was cut to size and sanded so there were no rough edges. It was then spray painted and a scrap of old carpet was used on the top of each step. The end result was a set of steps that led up to the favorite couch corner.

The final act was to teach the family pet to climb the steps, instead of trying to jump onto the couch. In no time at all, using doggie treats, our canine companion was happily using the steps to ascend to the couch corner. Looks like this old dog was able to be taught a new trick.


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