Pourquoi dit-on que le chien est le meilleur ami de l’homme ?

Pourquoi le chien est considéré comme le meilleur ami de l'homme

Si les chats ont la réputation d’être des animaux plutôt indépendants et parfois un peu caractériels, nul ne met en doute la fidélité du chien. On ne compte d’ailleurs plus les histoires des compagnons qui veillent la tombe de leur maître défunt, ceux qui sont prêts à sacrifier leur vie pour défendre celle de l’être aimé, ou de ceux qui se laissent mourir à la suite de la perte de leur humain. Fait plus banal, chaque propriétaire de chien a cette sensation de se sentir compris, que l’animal partage nos émotions voire qu’il lit parfois dans nos pensées. Incontestablement le chien reste l’animal qui entretient un lien presque symbiotique avec l’homme. D’où vient cette osmose ? Il y a t-il une explication scientifique ? Voici quelques éléments de réponse.

Le chien : le plus vieil ami de l’homme

Même s’il n’existe pas de réponses claires quant à comment son ancêtre, le loup, a été domestiqué par l’homme, il est certain que bien avant l’apparition de l’agriculture, les humains et les loups avaient déjà une relation privilégiée. D’ailleurs, les scientifiques ont découvert des ossements humains datant du Paléolithique enterrés près des restes avec des loups. Sachant que les rites funéraires ont une grande symbolique, et ce, depuis la nuit des temps, il n’y a aucun doute à avoir sur la nature de leur relation. Reste à savoir comment les chasseurs-cueilleurs s’y sont pris pour apprivoiser ces bêtes sauvages. Eh bien c’est simple, l’homme et le loup partageaient le même terrain de chasse sans toutefois manger la même chose, les loups se contentant des os. Les hommes toléraient donc leur présence ce qui les a peu à peu rapprochés. S’il semble peu probable que l’homme ait réussi à se lier d’amitié avec un loup adulte, la théorie la plus crédible reste que quelqu’un aurait un jour capturé un louveteau et qu’il se soit rendu compte au fur et à mesure de sa docilité… De fil en aiguille, le loup puis le chien est devenu un compagnon de protection, et bien plus encore…

Et si le rapprochement était finalement l’œuvre de la génétique ?

Une étude a mis en évidence que le chien possède de nombreux gènes qui le poussent à rechercher des restes de repas humains et qui lui permettent également de digérer l’amidon, un fait rare chez les animaux carnivores. Le chien serait donc génétiquement programmé pour vivre en harmonie avec l’homme. Mais ce n’est pas tout. En 2015, une autre étude suggère que l’ocytocine, l’hormone de l’affectivité, serait à l’origine de ce lien si particulier. Lorsqu’un chien regarde un humain dans les yeux, le niveau d’ocytocine augmente drastiquement tant chez l’animal que chez son maître, une réaction comparable à celle qui se produit lorsqu’une mère regarde son enfant. Autre point important, à la différence du loup, le chien a au fil du temps subi une délétion génétique (une mutation génétique matérialisée par la perte de matériau génétique sur un chromosome), similaire au syndrome de Williams qui touche certains humains. Le chien serait donc destiné à être social jusqu’au plus profond de son ADN. En bref, le sujet passionne de nombreux scientifiques et des découvertes se font chaque jour sur le pourquoi du comment, le chien reste l’animal le plus proche de l’homme.

Le chien sait rendre heureux à l’instar d’un ami

D’autres études n’impliquant pas l’ocytocine ont mis en lumière que les propriétaires de chiens ont un niveau de bonheur supérieur à ceux qui possèdent un autre type d’animal ou qui n’en possèdent pas du tout. L’explication est simple. Si un chien demande de l’attention, il nécessite aussi d’être régulièrement sorti ce qui pousse non seulement son maître à se dépenser davantage, mais aussi à s’ouvrir au monde. Lors de la promenade, il est difficile d’échapper à des interactions sociales avec d’autres prioritaires ou simplement avec des amoureux des chiens. Un simple câlin avec son compagnon peut apporter un précieux réconfort, à l’instar de la chaleur humaine qu’offre une amitié. C’est d’ailleurs pour toutes ces raisons que la thérapie canine connaît un engouement dans les établissements de santé, auprès des enfants malades et dans les maisons de retraite. Et l’aura positive de nos compagnons à quatre pattes a certainement encore de beaux jours devant elle.

One Comment

  1. blizjade

    Ah nos toutous c’est un peu nos enfants à “quatre pattes” !

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