My favourite animal portrait is this one:
This is Pandora (known to her friends as Pands). She's a new forest pony and she recently turned 30.
I was commissioned to draw Pands in 2005 by a work colleague as a birthday for her niece, Helen, who is Pands' owner.
I got the picture from my colleague that Pands was Helen's world and that Helen was very devoted to her, but I had no idea of the true story until I went, with my colleague, to present the finished picture to Helen.
Helen was thrilled with the picture - I've rarely seen such a strong (positive) reaction to one of my pictures, and after she had regained composure, Helen explained why. She'd owned Pandora for nearly five years, and had taken her on after losing her previous pony through age-related ill health, and hearing through the stable grapevine that a local family were looking to sell on their pony as the children had lost interest. It became obvious to Helen pretty much immediately that Pands had suffered neglect, abuse and bad treatment in the past - presumably from her previous owners, but she couldn't prove anything - the physical signs were there, unfortunately so were the psychological ones.
Helen had taken on a pony that had been broken by force, who was mistrusting, frightened and defensive to the point of being unapproachable. In the first year of owning Pands, Helen had sustained two concussions, three broken ribs and more cuts and bruises than she'd ever had in her whole life before.
But she persevered with Pands, never lost faith in her, treated her patiently and respectfully and by the time I did my portrait, Pands was a content and happy pony, healthy and fit enough to be winning prizes both under saddle and in hand at local Gymkhanas.
Pands is still little Miss Attitude - but then most mares are - and she (understandbly) has very little tolerance for strangers, but her story is why I feel a such strong connection to her portrait.
Thanks for asking!