They’re said to be a man’s best friend and I think anyone who owns one would firmly agree. Our four-legged, furry, loyal to the end friends. Yes, I’m talking about our dogs. Dogs are one of the most popular pet on the planet. But where do they come from? How did they become domesticated? and what makes them so lovable?

Scientists have long sought an answer to the quest to find out where dogs came from and when they were domesticated. Dogs are known to be the first domesticated animals, brought in by humans long before cats, chickens, rabbits or goldfish.

Meet Aurora, she's from Rathfarnham and is six months old. She really enjoyed last week's #BeastfromtheEast

Meet Aurora, she’s from Rathfarnham and is four months old. She really enjoyed last week’s #BeastfromtheEast and lovers her big brother Dodger!Photo Credit: Victoria Love

A 2017 study in the Journal of Nature Communications tells us that dogs descend from wolves. The study discovered the domestication took place 20,000-40,000 years ago.  In Europe, the domestication of dogs dates back 15,000 years ago with the oldest discovered fossil found in Germany approximately 14,700 years ago.

Here is Misty from Perrystown. She is twelve years old and enjoys barking and long walks. Phot Credit: Niamh Slevin.

Here is Misty from Perrystown. She is twelve years old and enjoys barking and long walks. Photo Credit: Niamh Slevin.

In Ireland today, we have a huge love for our dogs. They are often treated as core members of the family. A 2016 study carried out by Pedigree Ireland and Whiskas Ireland confirmed Ireland’s love for pets. The study found that 61% Irish households own a dog or a cat and 49% of those households are dog owners.

Meet Charlie. He's a six year old Cavalier King Charles from Templeogue. His favourite pastimes include dressing up and sleeping. Photo Credit: Emma Lucas

Meet Charlie. He’s a six-year-old Cavalier King Charles from Templeogue. His favourite pastimes include dressing up and sleeping. Photo Credit: Emma Lucas

Today, in addition to providing people with love, companionship and joy, dogs play a vital role in society. Every day, dogs all over the world provide exceptional help to people, young and old, who suffer from a  range of disabilities including blindness, autism, epilepsy and reduced mobility. Assistance dogs and guide dogs allow people living with a range of disabilities to lead an independent, fulfilled life.

Meet Holly, she's six months old and recently moved in with her new family in Terenure. She is a beautiful Golden Retriever. Photo Credit: Amy Tumelty

Meet Holly, she’s six months old and recently moved in with her new family in Terenure. She is a beautiful Golden Retriever. Photo Credit: Amy Tumelty

According to Autism Assistance dogs Ireland, assistance dogs are trained to work with children between the ages of 4-12 aiding their quality of life. Assistance dogs also provide autistic children with safety when out in public places, aiding the family as a whole to go out and do normal everyday tasks. These dogs are not pets, they are service dogs,  specially trained to carry out tasks that support these children to deal with the distress their disability may bring. These dogs are trained for 2 years beginning at 8 weeks old.

This is Buster, he is 10 years old but is certainly keeping his levely personality in his old age. He loves walks in the park and hates the postman. Photo Credit: Gillian Chapman.

This is Buster, he is 10 years old but is certainly keeping his lively personality in his old age. He loves snow, walks in the park and hates the postman. Photo Credit: Gillian Chapman.

Companion dogs provide love and companionship to children with autism. They are a source of reassurance and support in their everyday life.  These dogs do incredible work and are changing the lives of autistic children every day around Ireland. The Irish Guide Dogs for the blind also provide trained service dogs for children with autism and their families as well as for those with sight loss.

This is Lucca, he is a pure bred German Shepard. He loves snow, mountain walks and his owner Dayna. Photo Credit: Dayna Clegg.

Here’s Lucca, he is a 2-year-old, purebred German Shepard. He loves snow, mountain walks and his owner Dayna. Photo Credit: Dayna Clegg.

If you are in the market for your own four-legged friend, visit the DSPCA for a range of dogs looking for re-homing today or to the support guide dogs or assistance dogs, visit Irish Guide Dogs or Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland.

This is Milo, he is 4 years old and an Irish Wheaten Terrier. He loves walks, chewing bottles and hos owner Zoe. Photo Credit: Gillian Chapman.

This is Milo, he is 4 years old and an Irish Wheaten Terrier. He loves walks, chewing bottles and his owner Zoe. Photo Credit: Zak Milofsky.

Leave a comment below and let me know about your furry friends.