Dog's Best Friend

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Ice Age Mammoth Hunters Might Have Used Wolf-Dogs

A new theory holds that human mammoth hunters had a canine assistant who was not quite a dog. Read More

I wonder how much of that is accurate

Don't know about that, but here is a site that contains a lot of truth-

Modern theorizing difficulties.....

A HUGE problem with modern scientists/behaviourists theorizing about subjects like "wolf dogs hunting mammoths", is that they just have NO practical hands-on experiences with the subject! Though that may sound like a joke at first(and it kinda is!), there is a lot of truth to the statement, and there ARE modern "anecdotes" that are quite comparable to the phenomenon, if you know where scout around for them. Don't know why pygmies hunting elephants with dogs in the Congo is unknown to you guys, but "Google" that, and learn all kinds of stuff! Dogs can MOST ASSUREDLEY be quite useful/functional hunting elephants--they are far too nimble(well, most of the time--no doubt an occasional doggy pancake DOES occur, but that's one way of weeding out unsuitable hunting dogs!) Packs of barking, nipping, harassing dogs have also been helpful in driving raiding elephants from agricultural villages in Africa in the present day. Lots of stories of elephants being hunted by modern big game hunters with the assistance of dogs in the recent past--in one incident, a FOX TERRIER was an obsessed elephant hunter, who got snatched up in an elephant's trunk once, and flipped up into a tree! He survived just fine--something Toodles would probably appreciate knowing! Some of the other points modern researchers just aren't thinking of--any mammoths brought down by the symbiotic relationship between tame wolves(and/or "wolf-dogs"),--the canines finding(trailing and chasing) and holding at bay for humans with weapons to dispatch them, would provide such an EXCESS of meat that it would not have been "expensive" to support a pack of wolves at all! There was likely a surplus of meat during the megafauna era all the time! And humans being the often wasteful primates that they are, likely took their favorite portions and left the remainder to their helpful canids--HUGE benefits for them both! And, I believe, a large factor in the eventual extinction of lots of that megafauna--with canine helpers smelling them out, there was NOWHERE the giant game could hide! And DOGS being deadly enemies of wolves?(theorizing on the evidence of lots of wolf and fox remains at such archaeological sites)--Yes, but WOLVES are deadly enemies of OTHER wolves, too! Anyone 'outside the pack" runs a good chance of being attacked and killed on other wolves' territories--and tame wolves kept by humans certainly viewed their humans and areas they hunted together as their pack and territory, and would have had no qualms attacking/killing "trespassers" any more than any other wolf pack would. Wolves also kill foxes(and coyotes, etc.) every chance they get, and often don't eat these rank, less palatable competitors--so quite easy for their human pack mates to utilize the remains for fur or whatever. Lots of modern instances where dogs are used to lure in coyotes and wolves for hunters to this day, and even tame versions of the canines being hunted! No doubt wolf, and wolflike qualities were preserved and VALUED so long as humans were hunter-gatherers of large game, and selection for less wolflike characteristics did not occur until mankinds' lifestyles/cultures changed. A modern example of this are Nordic native type dogs in North America and Siberia--both sled dogs and hunting breeds(some performing both functions), that have retained more wolfish appearance and other characteristics because they are still valued and useful in those cultures. And STILL(despite what the "doggy purists" might harangue otherwise!) sometimes crossed back with wolves(purposefully and accidentally) for just such preservation to this day! I COULD go on and on regarding this subject, but my right index finger needs a rest......

Elephant hunting with dogs.

A fairly exhaustive search of the Human Relations Area Files database [HRAF], covering anthropological literature from around the world failed to reveal a hunting and gathering society that used dogs to hunt elephants. Various pygmy groups use dogs in ‘net hunting’ and ‘bow and arrow hunting.’ Elephants, however, are hunted with spears according to ritual, and it is not clear whether, in fact, elephant hunting represents a relatively new activity, like climbing Everest for Sherpas. In this case the experts appear to have been correct, although I would still welcome solid evidence to the contrary.

Pygmies hunting elephants with dogs

Every pygmy tribe has differences(I've read a lot about pygmies over the years, plus kept Basenjis which sparked my interest further in their origins!)--some keep dogs and hunt with them, some don't. Some hunt certain creatures using dogs--others use dogs for different animals. Many hunts involve simply ranging through the forest(with their dogs, if they use them), and they hunt whatever they encounter! I don't know about the "Human Relations Area Files database", but just Google my subject title above, and check out a MODERN hunting outfit in the Cameroons that utilizes pygmies as guides, who use their dogs on leash to track elephants, then release the dogs to bay them. As we speak! If you doubt this source, I'll bet you could pay them an exorbitant fee to experience such a hunt, and see for yourself! Ha! The point being, elephants CAN be hunted and bayed successfully using dogs--regardless of whether it was in ancient times in the African rain forest, or only more "modern" times--it CAN and IS done! Therefore, in comparison, it certainly seems feasible ice age hunter-gatherers did the same using tame wolves/wolf-dogs to hunt mammoths(and likely lots of other megafauna)....L.B.

But wait, there's MORE!

....and another source--if you Google "Basenjis hunting elephants" specifically, some more interesting stuff comes up--one article in particular under "BCOA African Stock Project-Basenjis in Gabon" where pygmies hunting elephants using poisoned arrows tracked them with their Basenji-type dogs. Since Basenjis don't bark, they often wear bells or clapper-type things that make noise so the pygmies can hear them, as well as helping flush game. All the references about these "bells" I've read before, they were used generally for any type of game being hunted, but in this article, the pygmies said they ONLY utilized the bells for elephant hunting! Though it wasn't specified WHY--which I'd certainly like to learn! So, wide variances in hunting practices between different pygmy tribes! Of course none of these references I'm using here are peer reviewed scientific papers! Doesn't mean they aren't true--I have no qualms(unlike many narrow-minded dogmatic scientist types) accepting "anecdotal" evidence--after all, it is how information and learning has been passed down successfully among human cultures for thousands of years before "science" ever reared it's head! Science is great, but often limited in scope and experience, if it ONLY accepts scientific accounts. Most of these stories are old hunter/explorer tales--but those old explorers knew their stuff-- they LIVED it! And I'll take an honest anecdote over an inexperienced scientist any day! Another possible reason such elephant hunting might not turn up in more recent studies/accounts--elephant "poaching" is a serious crime these days, and pygmy(and other) hunters may well not be so informative or open about their activities to researchers these days! Just some more thoughts/perspectives on the subject. Sorry if I'm being a geek pest, but, you know, that's what I DO!

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Mark Derr is the author of How the Dog Became the Dog, Dog's Best Friend, and A Dog's History of America.


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