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1 Working Dogs: History and Applications

Jessica A. Moody, Leigh Anne Clark, Keith E. Murphy


He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.


The domestic dog has been humankind’s best friend for 140 centuries. The bond between dog and human is stronger than any other human–animal relationship and has pragmatic and emotional roots. The pragmatic side is that the dog has served as shepherd, guide, hunter, protector, and as a model organism for biomedical research. The emotional side, however, is equally important, and the dog’s major role has been as companion. When one tries to understand the importance of a dog as companion, it is easiest to start with the simple fact that dogs are fun to look at and touch. These visual and tactile interactions are among the greatest pleasures of owning a dog. When one delves deeper into why the companionship of a dog matters so much, however, it is far more difficult to explain the range of emotions the friendship of a dog elicits. It is considerably easier to explain the value of the dog as a service, or working, companion.

The details of canine domestication are the subject of multiple studies (see Chapter 7), but the value of the dog to human populations since that event is indisputable. Throughout the ages, the dog has been integrated into various aspects of society to meet certain...

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