Meet the Dr. Dolittle of Pet Photography

And the pet owners — the ones who pay $1,000 and up, depending on the amount of time and the number of animals — often have ideas of their own. Gail Mendelsohn of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., has two Chinese cresteds named Sushi and Muffy. She wanted Dratfield to shoot photos of the dogs with their heads in a toilet bowl.

"There are people who have a very set idea of what they want, and I go with it. I mean, it's for them and I want them to be happy with it," he said.

And, if to certain people, some animals might look bizarre or ugly — Dratfield has a politically correct term to use instead. He calls them "animals of character." And he says he likes them best of all.

And if there's really no telling what the animal is thinking, Dratfield's concept is that sometimes they help us get in touch with what we're thinking — like when your career as an actor hits the wall and you discover that the publicity shot that finally resulted in regular work was the one you took with a dog.

Dratfield said, "When my dog passed away, I realized that this dog left a legacy. I mean, I have a career because of that dog."

For more information on Jim Dratfield's work, visit his Web site at http://www.petography.com.

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