Americans have been adopting pets at a record pace since the pandemic began. It’s as if the crisis has intensified our need for animal companionship, which goes back a long way. Scientists agree that dogs were the first species to form a relationship with humans: Inside Chauvet Cave, a Paleolithic site in southern France, archaeologists recently found 26,000-year-old canine paw prints alongside those of a human child.

Humans kept animals as companions long before we domesticated livestock like sheep, goats and cattle, some…

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