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First Nations, First Dogs

Canadian Aboriginal Ethnocynology

by (author) Bryan D. Cummins

Brush Education
Initial publish date
Jan 2002
General, Native American Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2002
    List Price

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Out of print

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Long before the arrival of Europeans on the shores of North America, the First Nations living across the expanse of what is now called Canada had not only domesticated dogs, but had several breeds, most uniquely suited to a particular environment or to fulfill a particular task. Most of these breeds have since become extinct, supplanted by dogs introduced by the European arrivals.

Yet not all knowledge of these breeds has been lost with them. Legends, journals, artwork and photos remain to document these dogs and their characteristics, and they are featured here with the aim of showing the profound impact they had on First Nations’ cultures and survival. Dogs were used as pack animals long before, and after, the arrival of the horse. They hunted alongside Natives and starved with them too, if the hunt was unsuccessful or game scarce. Dogs also figured prominently in song, story and ceremony. The fact that many of the country’s indigenous breeds are no longer with us is no reason to ignore them. Their stories, and those of the people who owned them, should be told. Hopefully, First Nations, First Dogs will help fill the void.

About the author

Bryan D. Cummins, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted extensive research in the area of ethnocynology (the study of dogs within their cultural contexts). He was a regular columnist and feature writer for the Canadian Kennel Club’s magazine Dogs in Canada. He is also the owner of Bryan’s Books, one of the largest rare, antiquarian, and out-of-print dog book businesses in the world.

Bryan D. Cummins' profile page

Other titles by Bryan D. Cummins