A long time ago, it’s said, our ancestors domesticated the wolf and created the dog. But how did it really happen? And what was the original dog? A new quest for answers has begun. Across the world, canine experts are chasing what may be the living relics of the first dogs. Understanding canine origins may lie with primitive dogs, some of which go back thousands of years. These dogs were shaped –not by breeders-but by Mother Nature. Some experts call them the prototypical dogs. Some of these “proto” dogs still run wild. In fact, they may exist in remote areas of the southeastern United States. In rural South Carolina, people consider them mongrels. Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, a well-known dog trainer, breeder and wildlife biologist, theorizes that these semi-wild “Carolina dogs” are a unique and ancient type. Around the world, there are dogs whose look (prick ears, fox-like face, ginger color) and behavior (wild) are similar to Carolina dogs. They’re known as “Pariah dogs” and it’s believed they survive in the same niche (the fringe of humans) that gave rise to the first dogs. In India, we meet Bulu Imam, an expert on India’s indigenous people and their dogs. In remote tribal villages he introduces us to the Santhal people and their “ancient” hunting hounds. In Israel, there is fossil evidence that suggests the dog was “born” here. Dog breeder Myrna Shiboleth takes us to the desert where nomadic Bedouins use Canaan dogs to guard their livestock. Myrna has won many ribbons with her tame Canaan dogs. Now she’s trying to preserve their ancient bloodlines. Wherever dogs were born, they migrated with early humans. It’s believed “proto” dog arrived in Australia and evolved in isolation. Today the Dingo may be the best living example of the ancestral dog. But Dr. David Jenkins is discovering that the Dingo is in danger of being hybridized out of existence. He blames settlers’ domestic dogs. There is a dog that may be more isolated and primitive than any other. At her kennels in Oregon, Janice Koler-Maznick keeps rare New Guinea Singing dogs. They were discovered by outsiders on this South Pacific island in 1957, but some think they’re now extinct in the wild. But Mike Wilangue, a forestry scientist, is climbing mountains in Papua New Guinea looking for the dog. He hears them in the distance and plans to keep looking until he finds what he believes is the living descendent of the original dog.
Length: 60:00 mins
Subject areas: Civilizations & History, People & Places, Science & Nature, Wildlife
Year produced: 2003