RC: The bond between the domestic dog and humans

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The bond between the domestic dog and humans is such that the dog exists in every part of the world inhabited by people. The relationship between the two species stretches back tens of thousands of years, to the first domestication of the wolf. Every modern breed of domestic dog, of which there are more than 400 today, is descended from this wild ancestor. Prehistoric humans had contact with other wild canids, such as jackals, foxes, dholes, and African hunting dogs, but only the wolf possessed the characteristics that allowed for integration into human life, which implies social assimilation, as opposed to mere domestication, which requires only a taming of wild instincts in the animal. So while dogs have been integrated, animals such as cows, sheep, and goats have not.

The traits in the wolf that allowed for integration are threefold. First, the wolf is a highly social animal, living in packs, akin to the social networks of humans. In the absence of this behavior, it would have been difficult for the first captive wolf pups to remain in a human settlement, constantly surrounded by other creatures. Wild canids such as the jackal and fox are solitary animals and would not have adapted easily, if at all, to social living. Second, wolves possess a system of social stratification remarkably similar to that of humans: each member of the group is aware of its rank in the chain of dominance and is loyal to higher-ranking members. Humans exploited this innate sensitivity to hierarchy by raising wolf cubs to be submissive. Third, wolves are highly intelligent creatures, able to learn tasks quickly. Without this attribute, the wolf would have been of little use to early man, since it does not provide meat, milk, or wool. The more intelligent the captive wolf, the more likely humans would have sought to breed it, resulting in perpetuation of this inborn intelligence and culminating in the remarkable cognitive abilities of modern dogs.

The development of different breeds from the wolf appears to have begun as early as 2000 B.C. in ancient Egypt and parts of western Asia. The first recorded instances of physically distinct breeds come from these areas. In Egypt, dogs resembling modern greyhounds were prevalent, while in western Asia dogs resembling modern mastiffs were common. The distinct body types of these breeds perhaps reflect the different purposes for which they were bred: greyhounds for chasing swift prey, such as hares, and mastiffs for grappling with larger prey, such as boars or antelope. But this is only speculation; the historical record from this period is too sparse to allow certainty on the matter.

1. Which of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?

(A)Humans value dogs more than they value any other domestic animal.
(B) The domestication of the wolf has no parallel in any other animal.
(C) Certain desirable traits not present in other animals allowed the wolf to become the modern dog.
(D)Domestication of the wolf has been unquestionably successful.
(E) Wolves are similar to humans in several important aspects.

OA: C
2. The passage suggests which of the following about the modern dog?

(A) It is the best social companion of all domesticated animals.
(B) Its intelligence is unsurpassed among household animals.
(C) It cannot survive outside of a social environment.
(D) Its body type always reflects the purpose for which it was bred.
(E) It perceives humans as superior to itself.

OA: E

3. All of the following statements are supported by the passage EXCEPT:

(A) Sheep are not part of the social fabric of human life.
(B) It is not possible to domesticate jackals or foxes.
(C) Submissiveness is a desirable trait in domesticated animals.
(D) Humans tended to domesticate those animals that provided some benefit to them.
(E) The purpose of early breeds of dog is not known.

OA: B

Submit your explanations for the above questions. Thank you.