Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/200

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moment whether they were not in reality Scotch collies masquerading as wild beasts.

There are many other traits in our domestic dogs suggestive of their ancestral habits which can not be dealt with in this article, but which offer a most interesting field for study to every one who possesses a dog and a taste for research in this direction.

In concluding it may be well to notice briefly the chief points of dissimilarity between the wild and tame Canidæ. In the first place, there is a general difference of aspect and bearing which it is difficult to describe exactly. The wild animal has an alert, independent look which the tame one has lost, chiefly owing to its long-continued habit of dependence upon man. Although, of course, all breeds of tame dogs have been at some time or other deliberately adapted by training and selection for special purposes, yet there seem certain characteristics which have risen spontaneously, or because the parts in which they are manifest are correlated with some others where an intentional change has been brought about. Darwin gives an instance of this in the hairless dogs, which at the same time are deficient in teeth. This question of correlation is one of the most interesting and obscure problems of natural history and perhaps we are at present a little too ready (with our hereditary tendency to take refuge in an imposing mystery whenever our reasoning powers fail us) to ascribe to it certain phenomena, the explanation of which by the ordinary laws of evolution is most clear.

Most probably the drooping ears of our domesticated hounds and hunting dogs primarily arose from the fact that the savage huntsman, disregarding shape, picked those dogs to breed from which manifested the keenest powers of scent, and that in these individuals the ears were not so much in use as with others. Again, in every litter of whelps the surly, independent, and ill-tempered brute would always be more likely to be eliminated than those which were confiding and tractable; and so, from age to age, the chief outward traits which distinguish the dog from wolves and jackals would tend to increase.

Finally, the instinct of association has, in the case of the domestic dog, become more exactly fitted to the new conditions of environment. He makes himself thoroughly at home with us because he feels that he is with his own proper pack, and not among strangers or those of an alien race. The wild animal, on the contrary, which refuses to become domesticated, still has the perception that those who would palm themselves off as his comrades are creatures of a different nature. He sturdily refuses to become a party to the fraud, and remains suspicious of their intentions; and, whatever they may do to propitiate him, he keeps on the qui vive as against a possible enemy.—The Contemporary Review.