For me, I not only have people who stick with me, but animals.
To the left is my horse, Grunnion. Yes, he’s named after a tiny fish – don’t bother to ask why. Grunnion is one of the most lovable horses I’ve ever met.
He was abandoned by his mother and bottle-fed by humans as a baby. I happened to be working at the barn when he was born and was able to know him ever since day 1. When the trainer decided to get rid of the ugly little gelding, I was the first to jump on it!
Grunnion grew out of his “ugly duckling” phase. Sort of. His head’s a little too big, hips a little pointy, feet a little too big. But I love him anyway. He follows my grandpa around his pasture and hands his head over my grandpa’s shoulder while he cuts firewood with the chainsaw.
More than half my life has been spent owning horses, so I have tons of those stories. And then there’s the half dozen cats and dozen dogs I’ve been close with over the years. These certainly won’t become main characters in my novels, but if you looked at my manuscripts, you’d see traces here and there.
Besides, giving animals a “personality” in your book will give the reader something else to connect to. Do you remember the horses that the main character just rides to and from a location? Or do you remember the horse who will only eat green apples and follows his owner into a saloon (referencing Adventures of Brisco County Jr, here)?