I heard someone say that animals represent love to children. This is why kids get so attached to puppies and kittens, and why stories like Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller are so heartrendingly sad, and Homeward Bound is so relievedly happy.
I don’t understand why these stories and experiences can seem so much more compelling than say, when a child’s best friend moves away. Unless there is a significant rift in the family, it doesn’t seem like a kid will run away from home in search of a lost friend or relative, but he will to find his dog.
I remember as a child crying for 3 days when my pregnant cat was found dead in our front yard from a gunshot wound, after having drug herself there.
Maybe it has something to do with caring for something more vulnerable than yourself. Mothers probably feel the same way about children, but adult lovers feel it about each other. Maybe lovers see each other as pets.
In some of the folk Russian Saint stories, Jesus is supplicated to as “little Christ” or some other diminutive term, recalling the Theotokos icons of Mary and Christ as a baby. Maybe we should cultivate a similar type of love for Him.