THE DOG, MAN’S FRIEND

„… the dog friend, always with us with his sincere tail that is of the heart, and his transparent eyes in which

is the babyhood of the soul.”

Ionel Teodoreanu

No connection between man and another species has been so much honoured, studied, commented on as that between man and dog. The first domesticated animal, the dog linked its fate to that of man to such an extent that its behaviour and even its physiology have changed significantly, due to its long evolution along with the human species.

Over time, dogs were part of many notable events. Rescue operations, space missions, proof of courage, have the dogs as protagonists.

Romfilatelia introduces into circulation, on Friday, June 11, 2021, the postage stamps issue The Dog, man’s friend, consisting of four stamps and a “first day” cover. The four stamps of the series, with face values of Lei 2, Lei 2.20, Lei 5.50 and Lei 19.50, present aspects of the interaction between man and dog, the latter appearing in different poses: practical human help (as a companion for the blind or people with motor disabilities), but also a simple affectionate friend of children.

The domestication of the dog happened at least 15,000 years ago, before the advent of agriculture, when people still lived as hunter-gatherers. Dogs are descended from wolves, but not from today’s wolves, as is often believed. The history of the dog’s evolution is long and complicated, requiring laborious research, including molecular and genetic analysis, to elucidate some aspects. As in any such situation, there are different scientific opinions, but a widely accepted theory holds that the dog’s closest relative is the gray wolf that lives in Eurasia and North America (wolf species that exists in our country), the two species descending from a common ancestor. The dog (Canis familiaris) and the gray wolf (Canis lupus) diverged from this ancestor approximately 30,000 years ago, starting on different evolutionary paths, and continue to evolve divergently even today.

In many ways, the dog is an extraordinary species. One of its most interesting features is its great variability, manifested by the existence of about 450 breeds. At first glance, a Maltese dog does not look much like an Italian Greyhound and yet both breeds come from the same ancestor who, 30 millennia ago, diverged from the wolf, embarking on its own evolutionary path. Also remarkable is the fact that most current breeds have appeared in a short time, in the last two centuries, by artificial selection, as a result of human effort to obtain certain features.

The relationship between man and dog is complex and takes on many aspects. Dogs can be trained to perform a variety of roles: accompanying and helping people with disabilities, rescuing victims of natural disasters, detecting explosives, drugs and other dangerous substances, tracking and catching criminals, guarding and herding animals, helping people hunting and fishing, traction of vehicles, etc. In its long evolution with humans, the dog has acquired a particular sensitivity to their emotions and behaviour, which makes possible effective communication between the two species, and this communication, in turn, facilitates training and explains the sometimes amazing performance of dogs in these activities.

But beyond these practical aspects, the dog remains, first and foremost, man’s friend, and his attachment to man remains the purest expression of fidelity, affection and devotion.