This is an excerpt from our book We Thank You, God, for These: Blessings and Prayers for Family Pets. It is "A Look at Genesis" from the chapter "What Does Scripture Say?"
From the beginning of time, God had animals in mind. After the heavens and earth, the planets, and all types of vegetation were created, God set about the task of creating the waters and all the creatures who live therein, and all insects, reptiles, wild beasts, and birds. Seeing that this was good, and giving them the promise of a perpetual existence by means of God's blessing, God gave them their place as part of the eternal order of life. And in this order of things, the animals of the world were created and received their blessing before God created a single human being, an order that carries great theological importance. For though God did give dominion over the earth and its creatures to us humans, we need to take note of the created order and realize that it is sacred.
Animals are high on God's list, and so they should be for us. Time and again God demonstrates just how important are the lions, ostriches, bears, leopards, whales, dogs, and mice. When God destroyed the earth and all but eight of the human species, at least two of every other species of animal were saved by entering the ark. Noah and his family were to care for them, just as God would, gathering them in as God would and does. And before Noah's shipwrecked family stepped even one foot onto the land where they would rebuild their homes, God provided the dove with its nest, making it the first inhabitant of a new earth.