Here's something curious. The phrase "man's best friend" didn't appear in print, according to Google's n-grams, until after the year 1750. Here's something else that's curious: the owning of dogs as pets by anybody more than the "one percent" - the richest of the rich - is also a relatively new phenomenon, something unique to the last two hundred years or so.
If dogs' vaunted status as honorary members of our human families is a relatively recent development compared to their domestication some 15,000 years ago, then just what were they doing all that time? One possibility: eating our trash.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Jason G. Goldman is a science journalist based in Los Angeles. He has written about animal behavior, wildlife biology, conservation, and ecology for Scientific American, Los Angeles magazine, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the BBC, Conservation magazine, and elsewhere. He contributes to Scientific American's "60-Second Science" podcast, and is co-editor of Science Blogging: The Essential Guide (Yale University Press). He enjoys sharing his wildlife knowledge on television and on the radio, and often speaks to the public about wildlife and science communication. Follow Jason G. Goldman on Twitter