I loved animal characters as a child. Flicka, Even though I am allergic to horses. Buck and white fang from Jack London, Hazel from watership down, Shardick the polar bear, ring of bright water etc.
As I grew I left all those tales behind and started writing my own few of which involved animals in any but the most cursory of ways. Then just two years ago I thought some of my stories and books were becoming rather samey, formulaic and I had always prided myself on originality. Still making me money and not copies but common themes and ideas. I asked a few author friends about this and one suggested writing something that was totally against type and the farthest thing from my wheelhouse I could think of was Fables. So I started writing of philosophical goats who worshiped the god of farming only to forget who he was, Stoats scenting prey on the wind but deciding that their lives could be better spent stargazing, Moon children (a large vole) who wished to see and understand the world and ants that thought the Ivy they lived on was the world. Best thing that I could ever have done, it revitalized me.