One of my favorite artists is Beth Cavener Stichter. I was introduced to her by my ceramics professor in college, and now regularly reference her sculptures. As her artistic statement indicates, she aims to show human psychology in animal form, which she does amazingly well. I'm going to blab on about the things I like about her figures, but I highly suggest you just go take a look at the gallery on her webpage.
I love the gesture in her figures--that's how she achieves most of the psychology. The image I have posted is of a sculpture called "i am no one." In this piece in particular, there's a beautiful contrast between arches and angles. I also like that one foot is curled close while the other is splayed; it plays up the retraction very well.
She also teases at proportion. For example, many of her rabbits have huge hind feet, which reads well because rabbits hop, and it seems natural. And you know what they say about rabbits with big feet... In all seriousness, I'm not sure of the exact psychological reaction she wants the proportions to induce, whether they make the figure look more human or cartoonish, or just make the viewer question their inherent perceptions of animals.
Two smaller things, which I think contribute a great deal to the quality of Stichter's work: texture and materials. The surfaces of the sculptures are surreally organic. Because most of the animals she chooses to sculpt have fur, she creates a texture that suggests fur without letting it overwhelm the piece, which fur could easily do. By way of materials, I like that she'll use antique hooks, rope, and other odds and ends in her pieces in addition to the stoneware itself.
Seeing her work makes me want to sculpt more, which I'm working on. I wonder if she works from live animals at all, or if she did at one point. Probably. Maybe I need to get myself a pet rabbit. Heh heh. Or a goat.