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WHEN man loses his best friend, the heartache is hard to describe in words.

The relationship between man and dog is so special and unfortunately, often so short.

Photographer Sarah Ernhart captures owners saying a final goodbye to their faithful friends in a single snap. Her project, Joy Session, shows the raw emotion of this moment, sometimes just hours before the dog passes away.

On last count, Ms Ernhart has photographed over 150 Joy Sessions.

“It can definitely be very emotional,” Mrs Ernhart said. “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.

“It’s pretty powerful.”

If you thought Marley & Me was emotional, prepare yourself. These photos will break your heart.

“We met in the morning at Berit’s favorite place, a lake where she often went swimming. It was a very overcast, grey day, and while I usually prefer sunnier weather for sessions, her mom said it was very “Berit weather”, that she always liked best a day that wasn’t too hot or sunny, and preferred the water to be a little cool and choppy.

At her Joy Session, she needed help to walk and they placed her in the water. Her moms and I were right in the water with her, getting our clothes wet, telling stories about Berit and capturing photos of them together. You could tell Berit wanted to get up and enjoy the lake like she’d always done, but simply couldn’t anymore.

After our session, they stayed another hour and sat on the beach together. They had to let her go just a few hours later. The images from that session are still some of my absolute favorites.”- Sarah Enhart.

“Most people prefer to the session to take place in their homes, yards, or a favorite park. Often, the animals aren’t very mobile, so we don’t have much choice. But it’s also nice to include places and things that are meaningful to the owners, and familiar for the pets.”- Sarah Ernhart



Heart-wrenching photos show the moment dog owners say goodbye to dying friend