It appears that many people forget that the dog has been with us for thousands of years. Humans and domesticated wolves, in Europe and apparently parts of western Asia and India, teamed up in pre-history in order to help each other survive. Each possessing traits that the other lacked. Even more-so than the horse or cat, the dog is a deep part of our history.
From the Wikipedia entry Canidae: "Canidae is the biological family of the dogs; a member of this family is called a canid. They include wolves, foxes, coyotes, and jackals. The Canidae family is divided into the "true dogs" of the tribe Canini and the "foxes" of the tribe Vulpini. The two species of the basal Caninae are more primitive and do not fit into either tribe.
"Canids and humans
"One canid, the domestic dog, long ago entered into a partnership with humans and today remains one of the most widely kept domestic animals in the world and serves humanity in a great many important ways. Most experts believe the domestic dog is descended from an Asian subspecies of the Gray Wolf.
"Among canids, only the gray wolf has been known to prey on humans. There is at least one record of a coyote killing a toddler, and two of golden jackals killing children. Some canid species have also been trapped and hunted for their fur and, especially the Gray Wolf and the Red Fox, for sport. Some canids are now endangered in the wild due to hunting, habitat loss, and the introduction of diseases from domestic dogs."
From the Wikipedia entry Gray Wolf: "The grey wolf or gray wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the timber wolf or simply wolf, is the largest wild member of the Canidae family. It is an ice age survivor originating during the Late Pleistocene around 300,000 years ago. DNA sequencing and genetic drift studies reaffirm that the gray wolf shares a common ancestry with the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris). Although certain aspects of this conclusion have been questioned, including recently, the main body of evidence confirms it. A number of other gray wolf subspecies have been identified, though the actual number of subspecies is still open to discussion. Gray wolves are typically apex predators in the ecosystems they occupy. Though not as adaptable as more generalist canid species, wolves have thrived in temperate forests, deserts, mountains, tundra, taiga, grasslands, and even urban areas.
"Though once abundant over much of Eurasia and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a very small portion of its former range because of widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment of its habitat, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that sparked broad extirpation. Even so, the gray wolf is regarded as being of least concern for extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, when the entire gray wolf population is considered as a whole. Today, wolves are protected in some areas, hunted for sport in others, or may be subject to extermination as perceived threats to livestock and pets.
"In areas where human cultures and wolves are sympatric, wolves frequently feature in the folklore and mythology of those cultures, both positively and negatively."