For photographer Sarah Ernhart of Minnesota and owner of Sarah Beth Photography, the story of “Joy Sessions” began in 2009 when she photographed a woman named Joan who was in Hospice care, and her terminally ill service dog, Joy, who “saved Joan’s life on more than one occasion,” Ernhart writes on her website.

Over the years, Joy let Joan know when her blood sugar was low, if a seizure was coming, and would “place herself under Joan to break her fall.”


Ernhart felt the strong bond between these two and decided, one year later, to begin “Joy Session,” named after Joan’s beloved dog. The end-of-life sessions capture special touching moments between guardians and their terminally ill or senior pets.

“It can definitely be very emotional,” Ernhart told “It’s a very sensitive time for these people who have been with these animals for their entire lives. I definitely have cried with some of the owners.”

Since 2010, Ernhart has captured more than 100 “Joy Sessions” with guardians and their companions. The service has been so popular that she even built a directory of photographers from around the world who offer similar sessions, reports.

View some of her stunning “Joy Session” shots below.


See more beautiful “Joy Session” photos on Ernhart’s website here.

All images: Sarah Beth Photography