It’s inevitable that animals would appear in jewelry and art . After all, art is a reflection of the human condition, and wild and domestic animals have been a part of that for a long time.

Especially today, many people think in terms of the last 10 or 15 years when they think of the past. The media keeps us so focused on a daily basis that it’s easy to forget that there is a past- and we humans have inhabited this planet in one form or another for at least a million years.

I would imagine that the dog was man’s earliest companion. Strong and fierce, dogs were both protectors and an aid in the hunt for early man. Puppies were captured and raised with the humans that then became their “pack”. Different breeds evolved from natural selection as well as intentional selection by man.

There was definitely a give and take relationship as early domesticated dogs were expected to earn their keep. They were undoubtedly important to the evolution of civilization.

The domestic cat is thought to be a descendent of the African Wild Cat- an animal that can interbreed with domestic cats and sometimes does. The tabby markings can be traced back to this species.

It is widely believed that the first domesticated cats appeared in Ancient Egypt about 2,500 B.C. Most people are aware of the exalted position cats held in Egypt, and it was a position well earned. Cats controlled the rodent population, protecting the grains and preventing starvation.

Most people know that cats were mummified, but did you know that mice were often mummified as well, probably to make sure the cats had food in the afterlife.

It was much later when the Chinese domesticated the cat, about 300 A.D. It was known as “Mao”, sounding suspiciously like “Meow!”

Cats came upon hard times in the Middle Ages when they went through a period of persecution, but once that irrational time was in the past they were again favorite fireside pets.

Today animals are loved and cared for by their owners, and any cruelty is persecuted and wiped out wherever it’s found . Thank goodness for that.

It would be interesting to find out where and when species other than cats and dogs became pets. I’m just guessing, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find a history of birds being kept in cages both for their song and their beauty. In Europe I’d expect to find caged song birds, and in Africa, Australia and South America perhaps parrots were captured as babies and became pets.

There does seem to be some evidence from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics that doves and other birds were kept. And that some hunting with birds (falcons?) was part of their culture.

Incas tamed the Amazon parrot and Alexander the Great brought the ringneck parakeet back from India. He was also extremely fond of the peacock!