I had my dog with me when I met this lady at the airport, she was a true animal lover. She held my dog and cuddled her and totally opened up to me, turns out she has inoperable cancer and had to let her pets go because she didn't want to die and leave them behind. She was in agony, not about herself but about her pets. She loved them so much.
Animals are the only thing that create an instant connection like that. Without my dog that lady would've never told me so much. It helps that my dog is really effin' cute too.
I actually wrote/illustrated a picturebook loosely based on my dog and sold it to Random House. I bought her a yummy bone with the advance.