Joy Sessions: Dog Photos Honoring the Lives Well Lived

By The Bark, March 2018, Updated April 2018
Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography

Time passes quickly when measured in dog years, and as our co-pilots come to the end of their journey, we often reflect on our relationship with them— what we appreciate, what we’ll miss.

Recognizing the need for something to hold onto after they are gone, Minneapolis-based Sarah Beth Ernhart (owner of Sarah Beth Photography) created the “Joy Session,” photo shoots that she describes as celebrations of shared lives.

While it might seem like these would be sad occasions, Ernhart’s photos tell a different story, one of people and their animal companions in close emotional harmony. She’s clear about what these sessions offer her as well. “I’m honored that my clients trust me to capture something so personal during a very difficult time.”

Inspired by the pets and people she’s met while doing this work, Ernhart relaunched her Joy Session website as a one-stop resource for those whose animal companions are confronting end-of-life issues. Users learn about practical subjects such as nutrition, holistic and hospice care options, and managing grief; the site also includes a blog, ideas for a variety of memorial objects and a place to share their stories. In the face of loss, photographs have a tremendous power to console. As Ernhart says, they help us to “remember certain expressions, or how they played, or gave kisses, or what their fur felt like.” To remember joy.

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