Dogs and Women Were Best Friends, Too: Page 2

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“As these cysts take many years to form and may not have always preserved," Waters-Rist said, "it suggests that many more people were likely infected. So it is a piece of the puzzle in our reconstruction of the importance of dogs in the lives of ancient peoples.”

Dog owners have been saying it for years: "Dogs are really just four-legged, furry humans." And now science backs it up!
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Robert Losey, a University of Alberta anthropologist, told Discovery News that he previously documented “intentional burial of dogs and wolves” at the same Siberian cemeteries.

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“These dogs were much like modern Siberian huskies," Losey said. "Upon their deaths, they were carefully placed in graves just like the human dead.”

Some dogs in the Siberian cemeteries were buried with implements such as spoons and stone knives. One dog was even interred wearing a necklace.

The people living at the site appear to have been hunter-gatherers who fished for both their own supper and that of their dogs. The scientists know the dogs and people were eating similar diets based on chemical analysis of their bones.

Dogs and humans at other locations worldwide could have been equally close during prehistoric times, but proof of such connections can be harder to find where populations were low. Losey explained that dog burials tend to be more common finds in areas where diets were rich in aquatic foods, because such spots generally had denser human populations.

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The Siberian dog burials strongly suggest that the canines were valued for more than just their hunting, guarding, and other probable work efforts.

“Altogether, several lines of evidence -- the intentional burial of dogs in cemeteries, their similar diets, and now a shared disease -- demonstrate that these ancient Siberian foragers likely had close physical and emotional ties with their domesticated dogs,” Waters-Rist said.