Volume 4, Book 51, Number 29 :
Narrated by Anas (radiallaahu `anhu)
When Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) came to Medina; he did not have any servant. Abu Talha (radiallaahu `anhu) (Anas’ step-father) took me to Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Anas is a wise boy, so let him serve you.” So, I served him at home and on journeys. If I did anything, he never asked me why I did it, and if I refrained from doing anything, he never asked me why I refrained from doing it.
This hadith gives evidence for employment of an orphan and showing kindness to servants. We treat our servants as if they owe us their lives, belittling them and scolding them for every little thing. Look at the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam), he wouldn’t even ask him questions like ‘Why didn’t you do this?’, or ‘Why did you do it?’. I’m sure there must have been incidents where he fell short, he was just a ten-year-old boy when he started and spent all his teen years with the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam). There must have been times when he didn’t complete a task or committed mistakes etc. But he was never rebuked by the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam).
And isn’t it amazing how he mentions this specific trait of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) when narrating this hadith? He could’ve said something more general, like “He was extremely nice to me”, or “He never scolded me”, or “He was the best”. You get the point. But when he recalls his time with the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam), he remembers specifically what we could call “forgiveness”. Imagine what our servants would recall their time with us ten, twenty years down the line. Would they remember our pleasantness or the constant insults we throw at them?
Interesting fact about Anas (radiallaahu `anhu):
His mother once asked the Prophet, upon him be peace, to supplicate for Anas. He, upon him be peace, said,
‘O Allah, increase him in wealth and sons, give him long life and forgive him his sins.’
Anas would recollect that he had 125 offspring in his lifetime and only two of them were girls, his garden gave fruit twice a year and had basil which smelt like musk and he had lived long and had even survived poison and he hoped for the fourth part of the supplication. He was the last companion to die in Basra in the year 93H aged 103 years old. [Abdul Aziz Ahmed]
Read more on his life here.
Volume 3, Book 40, Number 552 :
Narrated by Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (radiallaahu `anhaa)
The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) prayed the eclipse prayer, and then said, “Hell was displayed so close that I said, ‘O my Lord ! Am I going to be one of its inhabitants?”‘ Suddenly he saw a woman, I think he said, who was being scratched by a cat. He said, “What is wrong with her?” He was told, “She had imprisoned it (i.e. the cat) till it died of hunger.”
Volume 3, Book 40, Number 553 :
Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radiallaahu `anhu)
Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.” Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) further said, (Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), ‘You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth.”
Something that might not seem very unrighteous can be huge in the sight of Allah. One might think “so what if I teased an animal a bit?” The answer is, you wronged a weak one. You had power over it that it did not have over you. And Allah does not reject the plight of the weak and oppressed. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
Three people’s du’as are never rejected: the one who is fasting, until he breaks his fast; the just ruler; and the one who has been wronged. Allah raises it above the clouds, and the doors of the skies are opened for it, and the Lord says, ‘By my Honour and Glory! I will help you, even if it be after some time!’
(Recorded in al-Tirmidhi)
We must be careful in our treatment of animals and all other living beings in general. Don’t think you can wrong someone and get away with it.
Volume 3, Book 40, Number 551 :
Narrated by Abu Huraira (radiallaahu `anhu)
Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine. So he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam)! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate.”
Many Muslims have misunderstood Islam’s teachings regarding dogs, and this misunderstanding has led to the mistreatment of these animals. The Prophet said, “Purifying a container that a dog has licked (in order for human’s to use it) is done by washing it seven times, the first washing being with dirt.”2 However, according to some scholars, a dog’s fur is considered pure3. Nonetheless, Muslims are discouraged from keeping dogs inside their homes, as the Prophet has been reported as saying that angels do not enter into a house that has a dog4.
However, just because one does not keep a dog inside the home and doesn’t drink after it, that does not give one the right to neglect it, mistreat it, or kill it. The usefulness of this creature of God is indisputable. No other animal can compete with it in its loyalty to its caregiver, its abilities as a guard, and its talent for hunting. In fact, the Qur’an narrates in Surat Al-Kahf, or “The Cave,” the story of some pious youths who took refuge in a cave from the persecution and violence of the unbelievers. That these righteous people had a dog with them, and the fact that Allah mentions the dog and counts the dog among them, indicates that dogs are permitted to live among people. [And you would have thought them awake, whereas they were asleep. And We turned them on their right and on their left sides, and their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance (of the cave as a guard)] (Al-Kahf 18:18).
So dogs may be used for guards as well as for hunting, as the Qur’an also states: [They ask you about what is lawful for them (as food); Say: Lawful unto you are (all) things good and pure: and those beasts and birds of prey which you have trained as hounds, training and teaching them (to catch) in a manner as directed to you by Allah; so eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allah over it and fear Allah, for Allah is swift in reckoning] (Al-Ma’idah 5:4).
In two separate hadiths narrated by Abu Hurayrah (the cat-loving Companion), the Prophet told his Companions of the virtue of saving the life of a dog by giving it water and quenching its thirst: one referred to was a man who was blessed by Allah for giving water to a thirsty dog. The other was a prostitute, who filled her shoe with water and gave it to a dog that was lolling its tongue in thirst. For this deed she was granted the ultimate reward: eternal Paradise.
Islam asks people to reflect upon this and be aware of each person’s duty toward God’s creatures, which He has put on earth for our use, not for our abuse. When the Prophet was asked if God rewarded acts of charity to the animals, he replied, “Yes, there is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive.”
 Narrated by Muslim.
 See Fiqh Us-Sunnah by Sayyid Sabiq.
 Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Taken from: http://www.islamawareness.net/Animals/love.html
More on the issue of dogs here.
Once I saw Allah’s Apostle at the door of my house while some Ethiopians were playing in the mosque (displaying their skill with spears). Allah’s Apostle was screening me with his Rida’ so as to enable me to see their display.
(‘Urwa said that ‘Aisha said, “I saw the Prophet, and the Ethiopians were playing with their spears.”)
One word: aww! :)
Also, the story doesn’t end here. Other narrations tell us that ‘Aisha (RA) was resting her head on Prophet (SAW)’s shoulder. Prophet (SAW) kept standing so ‘Aisha could enjoy the display fully. He once asked her if she was done, and she replied with no. He kept standing there without a word. Only when ‘Aisha felt tired and had enough, did the Prophet (SAW) move from his place.
That’s the example Prophet (SAW) left for the husbands of his Ummah. He treated his wives with such care and love that none of today’s ‘perfect couples’ stand a chance in comparison with him.
O followers of the Prophet (SAW), try following him for real. Men, treat your wives with respect, love and kindness. Women, narrate this Hadith to your sons and brothers [or husbands ;) ] so they can treat their wives nicely too. InshaAllah. :)