This is the first piece of embroidery I've tried in this style (i.e. something naturalistic and freestyle without sticking to recognised stitches). I was aiming to capture the texture of the dog's fur and the shadows of her face (guess mutts don't have to worry about bags under their eyes, particularly the amount of sleep this one gets).
Work in progress
Stitching the dog's head took about 20 hours (forgot to keep track for the background, but maybe about a dozen). I used stranded embroidery cotton on cotton fabric, with metallic thread for the highlights in her eyes. Am slightly disappointed with the photo as the background has more variation in colour: stitching in circles means that the light catches the thread in different ways and it looks variegated.