Fantasy tales are filled with stalwart animal friends that are a vital extension of the hero themselves. Such paragons of virtue as Argos and Odysseus, Naga and Korra, and even Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. These obviously exceptional animals have that extra something regular examples of their breed and experience lack.
In the rigours of Classic D&D adventures our animal friends do not fair well, being used for little more than luggage carriers, mounts for fast travel, or in bleak times, as emergency rations. It’s time for that to change. As the AD&D system stretched into the 3.x to 5th editions some benefits were bestowed on animal companions, granting them supernatural powers, but do you have to be a druid or a ranger to have a really cool dog? How come a sylvan scout cannot have a bear for a loyal friend?