Where the wild things are

June 30, 2006 13:49


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Originally referring to the wild dogs of India, the "pariah dog" is a general term applied to any population of stray or feral dogs, regardless of their geographic location. The word "pariah" comes from India, where it originally designated members of the lowest social caste, the "untouchables," or social outcasts. In Australia, the pariah dogs are called Dingos, in the southern United States, they are known as Carolina dogs, in Asia, as Thai Ridgebacks and in Israel as Canaanis. Despite differences due to climate and environment, these pariahs often resemble each other. But wherever they are in the world, they are wild dogs living on the fringe of civilization. Strays often scavenge on the human population for food while feral dogs, which are fully wild, have no contact with humans at all. Like the Canaanis, pariah dogs all over the world are threatened by urbanization, human persecution and by their mixing with true domestic dog breeds, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and the dogs most owned and bred by humans. Today, these unique pariah dogs are as close to the first dog - as separate from the wolf - that there are in the world.

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