Creative design and The Art of Dog Breeding (by Luke Erb)
Is there a place for creative design in the field of animal breeding? Where does creative design come from? How have most dog breeds come to exist? In this short essay I will attempt to answer these questions as well as others that come up along the way.
In musing about the question of “Is there a place for creative design in the field of animal breeding?” and thinking about how animals have been, and are of service to mankind through out the ages of history. Animals have been used for almost every conceivable job, a few examples, elephants are still used in Asia for aiding men in the construction of buildings, birds of prey are trained and bred in Mongolia to help indigenous people gather the necessary food and cloths for survival, horses have been helping man for thousands of years, and there are many more.
Dogs, perhaps are the most obvious example. Humans earliest dogs where most likely domesticated jackles, wolves, foxes or coyotes, fulfilling many different roles such as hunting animals, carrying packs, or guarding possessions. Now the question is, how did early humans get a previously wild animal to guard their sheep, catch small rodents, or carry their belongings? The answer I believe is creative design. Creative design is by definition, the process of having original ideas that have value, more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things. People had to solve the problems of the day, which included the three scenarios above. At one point someone had an idea, of the possibility of domesticating a jackle to chase down a hare and catch it for him. Where did this idea come from? It could have come from a variety of different sources, but most likely it came from intelligent observation of the natural world and how the animal kingdom, created by the Master Designer, interacted with each other, in this case how jackles in the wild chase down and catch the hare for their own survival.
How you might ask, does this have to do then, with the art of dog breeding? As time progressed the creative thinking in man advanced as well, there where many diverse tasks that needed to be fulfilled. These tasks could, in a most of cases, be made a lot easier with the help of their now companions, dogs. Not everyone needed a dog to guard the sheep. Expert hunters needed their dogs to track or retrieve game. Landlords needed dogs with a keen sense of smell to track runaway servants, etc. This type of task specialization for dogs led to different types and classes (breeds) of the animal. It is interesting to note the vast genetic diversity in the canine specie, most of which came about by breeding for specific brain functionality for the task to be performed. Modern dog breeding has changed very little from its earliest beginnings, thousands of years ago. Leading the blind, aiding the deaf, and seizure alert dogs, have been in service to humans for some time. Todays canine specie is being called upon to help people in ways it has never done before, helping, and communicating with autistic children, consoling aging people with degenerative brain diseases and the list only gets longer. There are always new challenges that the human race is facing, and rising to meet those challenges are people with creativity, and dogs with nearly five thousand years of domestication, intelligent breeding and design in their history. As we move forward together, with our canine companions, let us embrace the idea, that together we can use our intelligence and creativity to advance our quality of life, as has been done through out history.