We care for ill dogs for at least 14.000 years
A lot is said about the bond between man and dog. Possibly the two most connected animal species. A band that has been going back for a long time, because dogs and people have been living together for a long time. And, as is apparent from recent research in Leiden (Nl), they have also been doing very well for a long time. For at least 14,000 years.
In 1914, a grave with the remains of a man, a woman and two dogs was found by workmen near the German city of Bonn. Initially it was thought that it was wolves remains instead of dogs, but research from 1977 showed that it really was remnants of dogs, one of the oldest remains of domesticated dogs ever found in Europe. A reconstruction was also made of this "primal dog", which indeed resembles the wolf. Looking at the grave gifts that were found at the remnants, humans and animals were put to rest together here - after their death - and not accidentally died in that place. Research showed that the Bonn-Oberkassel grave was at least 14,000 years old, and thus descended from the paleolithic period.
But now the grave appears to give even more praise to the dog-man band than originally thought. Leiden PhD student and veterinary surgeon Luc Janssens discovered that one of the dogs was seriously ill for a long time and was also cared for.
"The youngest dog in the grave must have been 27 or 28 weeks old when he died," writes the University on the website. Luc Janssens is a veterinarian and PhD student at that university, and he researched the remains of the teeth of the animals. Most likely, because the DNA has disappeared after 14,000 years, the dog suffered a severe infection with the morbillivirus (also known as canine distemper or distemper). The characteristic damage to the teeth of the dog shows that the animal has contracted the infection at puppy age (approximately four to five months). The dog then went through two, possibly even three, periods of serious illness for five or six weeks, according to Janssens.
'Without care, a dog with a severe form of canine distemper usually dies within less than three weeks,' says Janssens to Leiden University. This dog was obviously seriously ill but still lived for about eight weeks. This is only possible through intensive care. 'Think of keeping the dog warm and clean and giving him water and food. During the illness, the dog was certainly not of practical use to people. This, together with the fact that the dogs are buried together with their supposed owners, suggests that 14,000 years ago there was already a unique care relationship between man and dog. '
A new look at an old dog: Bonn-Oberkassel reconsidered