I quit playing forever ago, it was around WOTLK, very early Cata.
I played from Classic. Back when the Hunter class appealed to me because you got a companion of your choice, and the class felt like a hunter. Tamed your pet yourself, probably a adventure on its own to find your pet if they were rare (24-48 hour re-spawn hell). Leveled him from that level you tamed him, and did all the things required to make him your buddy, along with earning his companionship (mostly via food). All of this did a lot to make a pet feel like a buddy that went on adventures with you. You earned that little bastard.
During late BC, WOTLK era, Blizzard changed that. Update after update, Blizzard and the community itself ruined what Hunters were. Pets slowly became just another tool for "DPS" more then they were, the Hunters companion. By the end of WOTLK, into Cata, pets were little more then a tool. Didn't even need to feed them anymore, Blizzard optimized them so much. The community had its "flavor of the month pets" that had a extra insufficient DPS, and the pet you had from classic more then likely wasn't it.
So after a while, the Hunter class felt really... empty. Pet was just another tool, the class itself felt foreign from what it once was. After a few months of Cata being the expansion it was, I kinda just fell out of the game overall. The Pet system was my personal favorite system and made me love hunters over all the other classes, and I was sad to see it go the way it did. I could only take so much of Cata before I just canceled my Subscription.
So given the game has passed a few years since Cata, what has happened to the Hunter class? Has it gone to roots and made the class/pets feel like a companion again? Or has the game been optimized so much that pets are just that thing that you have to tug along with you?