As magazine titles go, LIFE is perhaps the most all-encompassing in the history of periodicals. Though the magazine specialized in facets of human life—from war to fashion and culture to politics—the editors more than dabbled in the lives of our four-legged (and slithering and winged) friends. Someone in the art department clearly had a soft spot for dogs, but mice, lorises, triggerfish and walruses all had their turns on the cover, as well. For their contributions to science and cinema, agriculture and plain old human companionship, animals more than earned their ample coverage in LIFE—though they probably couldn’t have cared less.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.