Caras views humanity's ascent from Stone Age hunter-gatherers to modern apartment-dwelling cat-and dog-owners as inextricably woven with animals. As beasts of burden, means of transport, and a protein source, animals made possible agricultural surpluses, triggered cultural cross-pollination, and facilitated the invention of wheeled vehicles, roads, and languages. Moreover, our intense personal interaction with animals refined human emotions. Sheep breeding in Mesopotamia; reindeer as spiritual companions to Norse shamans; pet dogs in ancient Greece and Japan; swan-keeping in 10th-century Britain; and diverse cultures' relationships with birds, horses, camels, cows, goats, fish, bees, elephants, ferrets and other creatures are elucidated as best-selling animal authority Caras, president of the ASPCA, skillfully blends history, zoology, folklore, and anecdote. He writes with deep reverence for the animal kingdom, and this delightful, enlightening book, beautifully illustrated with sensitive, detailed drawings, will enhance one's perception of history, the human species and the sentient creatures with whom we share the planet. -Publishers Weekly
This is an informative, insightful history of animal domestication through the ages, by ASPCA president Caras, author of numerous fine works on pets and wildlife. As Caras defines it, domestication is "the shaping of a species by man, using selective breeding to replace natural selection." In studiously reviewing the origins and probable methods of domestication, as well as the ancestry of all manner of animals-from goats and horses in the Stone Age to camels and elephants around 4000 B.C. to ferrets and cats in more recent years, Caras explains how "animals have played a vital role in man's evolutionary course."