I was a big fan of author Zoe Barnes who included all manner of creatures in her books and did it very well. As it was something I particularly enjoyed, and she is sadly no longer with us, I felt it was something I would like to build into my stories. I often get comments from readers about the animals in my novels so I thought I would add a page to my website. You can check that out here. It gives you information about each of the key ones from my recent books.
As pets have always featured in my life it seemed natural that they would feature in the lives of my characters. I like how my human characters learn about themselves by interacting with the animals. Sometimes they are arch enemies like Tim and Horse in It Started At Sunset Cottage or a comfort and a distraction from the harsh realities of life like Wriggly in A Family Holiday but whatever part they play I feel they bring a little something extra to the story that wouldn't otherwise be there.
Animals give us a different perspective on things. They don't get emotional unless it involves food or territory and then you'll see the fur fly but all the tiny things that us humans get caught up on never cause our pets a problem - how we look, what others think of us or where we're heading in life are replaced by them simply enjoying the moment or cleaning their genitals in public (I didn't say they were perfect). Their biggest plus is that they love us unconditionally and there is a lot we could learn from them in that respect.