Was the photographer who took this photo used to having dogs in the studio? Perhaps the woman insisted, since this little dog was clearly important to her. Did it help her through hard times, like pets are doing for millions now?
The best clue to the photo’s date is the dress, and unfortunately we can’t see how long it is. However, it doesn’t look like it has a defined waistline. By adding that to the deep v neck, the bow, and the pleats, I’m guessing that the dress might be from the latter half of the 1920s. There are similar details in the two dresses above from the Summer 1927 B. Altman catalog. Of course, that just tells when the dress might have been made. Older women often wear their clothes long past the peak of fashion.
The close-fitting hat looks more like a beret than a cloche. And is that a veil extending from the front, or an escaping band of hair?
She’s not smiling, but she’s not unhappy either. I would call this a look of determination. It’s a reminder to all of us to hold our loved ones close.