Now, I don't have any empirical proof, but I believe that Herriot was on to something here. My sense is that people who love animals are more likely to be kind to all of God's creatures (great and small) than are those who do not. This is not to say that everyone who loves pets is guaranteed to be compassionate, nor is it to say that those who do not love pets will never be capable of expressing love for others. Rather, it's simply to argue that those who are able to love dogs, cats, horses, and so on are more likely to show compassion to others. That is why when I see someone grieving over the loss (or potential loss) of a pet, my immediate thought is that here is someone who cares.
And that brings us to Jimmy Stewart, who in addition to being a great actor, was also a pet lover. And if you ever saw him read his poem about his dog named "Beau" on the Johnny Carson show, then you know what I mean. If you haven't seen it, then here's your chance. I happened to see this when it first broadcast, and when I saw it, I couldn't help but think that not only was Stewart one of the greatest actors of all time, but he was probably a pretty good guy as well.