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For over 100,000 years, dogs and man have enjoyed a symbiotic and profitable relationship. That association began when early wolves would scavenge near human encampments and enjoy the warmth of human fires. As time went on, man expanded his relationship with wolves, beyond providing warning and protection, into joint hunting efforts. And as this relationship evolved, so did the wolf. Roughly, 100,000 years ago, today’s dog (Canis Familiaris) began to develop from Canis Lupus, the wolf.
Now let’s fast forward to the present day, because all you need to do is stroll down any street to see all of the different breeds created to fill a special need for humans. For example, the giant Newfoundland was bred to pull nets for fishermen.
The Dachshund was bred to dig and hunt badgers. Poodles which were originally bred as a water dog used to retrieve waterfowl. And even the original lapdog, the Tibetan spaniel was bred to warm the bodies of the Buddhist monks while they prayed.
One of the most important new jobs dogs perform is being guide dogs for the visually impaired. Johann Wilhelm Klein founded an institute for the blind in Vienna in 1819. There he began training dogs as guides, unfortunately it was almost one hundred years later before his program gained any attention outside of Austria.
In Germany, Dr Gerhard Stalling founded a school entirely dedicated to training guide dogs in response to the increasing number of soldiers blinded during World War I.
The development of specific breeds continues into the 21 st century.
The Labradoodle, the first dog to be labeled a ‘Designer Dog,’ was developed in the late 1980’s to fill a void in human/dog world, an allergy friendly guide dog.