Tracy and I understood each other. The loss of a velcro dog is heart wrenching. No words are needed, you just understand.
There were only two reference photos for Coonie's portrait. One was measurably more clear in detail than the other. The better of the two photos had a view which was looking almost straight down on Coonie. This was an angle I'd not painted. The reference photo was over exposed so the colors on Coonie were a bit washed out. The second photo was the one I used to capture the correct coloring of Coonie.
Tracy and her husband are "horse people" and we decided we would add some equine related objects to Coonie's portrait. They took a number of photos of items in their horse arena. It took me days to decide which item or items would be used in the painting.
The boots are placed strategically so the viewer understands we are looking down on the dog. Their height and shading add a feeling of dimension. The headstall is flat with the brow band raised so again, you understand the view point is down. The detail in the headstall was minimized so that item does not steal the focal point which belongs to Coonie. The reins were placed under Coonie's front paws to assist in achieving the view of looking down on the subjects.
If you look closely into Coonie's eyes you can see Tracy taking the photo of her. That is generally the most important part of my paintings - the eyes (unless the painting features a sleeping animal etc). A great deal of time was spent on Coonie's eyes. If the eyes are not right, the painting won't be right.