Native Americans have a long and beautiful relationship with their dogs. “Rez dogs” are survivors, and so too are Native people.

 "Then the sun god decided to create new people. First he made a man, then a woman, and finally a dog to keep them company. Later he created the guanaco and the rhea as food for the couple he had brought forth. -- Tebuelche Indians"

A few themes emerge from the details of the dog's lot in America. First and foremost, the dog was an ambiguous animal. Native Americans understood that even though dogs resided in the human camp they had a close kinship with coyotes and wolves. Because of these relationships, dogs occupied and operated on several levels: they connected the wild and the tame, and they joined nature and culture.

Even though dogs were seen as almost human, they were also known to be carnivores and, as such, were linked not only to wolves, coyotes, and foxes but also to bears and jaguars. On the one hand, dogs were esteemed as companions, hunters, and guards.

Dogs played key roles in the myths of some people; in other myths, dogs were scarcely mentioned. In addition, the numbers of dogs and their physical appearance varied widely from locality to locality and through time.

America's first dog was the Native American dog. During the earlier times when Native Indian tribes inhabited all of North America, canines of unknown origins accompanied them everywhere.

The Native Americans were aware of how important it was to prevent inbreeding to keep their dogs healthy. In order to prevent this, the tribes would introduce new blood from other tribe's dogs which accounted for the many types of dogs that were often portrayed in history books.

The northern tribes of Native Americans developed a dog with more of a wolf like appearance while in the western regions the smaller Plains dog was developed. These dogs were very intelligent and versatile as they were expected to fill many roles in a Native American village. In some tribes, dogs pulled a travois carrying the nomadic family’s belongings as they followed their food supply. Dogs were used to hunt for food and as faithful and protective watch dogs over the village. They were even reliable as “babysitters” for the children and elderly when the women were gathering roots, berries and herbs. In certain tribes ,some of the dogs even played important roles in the tribes’ religious ceremonies.

Scientists Say The "Black Wolves" Are Actually Earliest Native American Dogs

The black fur of some North American wolves is the result of long-ago dalliances with domestic dogs, probably the companions of the earliest Native Americans.

And a black coat seems to provide an advantage to forest-dwelling wolves, meaning dogs passed on some useful genetic diversity to their wild cousins.

Anderson and her team compared the genes of wolves from Yellowstone National Park and the Canadian Arctic to those of domestic dogs and coyotes. They found that, in each species, the black individuals have the same mutation, which first arose about 45,000 years ago. And molecular-clock analysis showed the mutation was oldest in dogs, suggesting it originated with them and then spread to wolves and coyotes through interbreeding.

This all happened in North America, because there are no black wolves in Europe or Asia (except for an Italian population that has hybridized very recently with dogs). And wolves picked up the black-coat mutation in the distant past.

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