Joy Session

Joy Session


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To say that it was love at first sight would be a lie. Although I was an experienced foster, I had yet to encounter a 90lb dog charging at me full force, teeth bearing. There were several moments when I thought “what is wrong with THIS DOG?!”

Although he was very loved by his original owner, Rex was not well socialized nor well cared for. He lived with an elderly gentleman who was estranged from his family, so prior to foster care, most of Rex’s world consisted of this one man and his one house.

After months of patience, soothing tones and slow movements, Rex finally started to let me in. I finally got to see his TRUE personality: the boy who, despite having arthritis in his front left paw and hip dysplasia, chased a cat through our neighborhood. The dog that went into some amazing alternate reality when he got to go for a car ride with the windows down. The dog that loved to wrestle with me, almost as much as he loved to snuggle with me. The dog that was completely and utterly devoted to me.

Despite only knowing him a short time the bond Rex and I shared was just as strong as the bond I had with my resident dog, who I got as a puppy. Although my relationship with both dogs were different, my love for and loyalty to each of them – and theirs back to me – was totally the same. And I enjoyed this amazing bond with him for almost 2 years.

On 8/13/13 Rex and I had a Joy Session with Sarah Beth Photography. I rarely see butterflies in my yard so when, on my way to the car for the session I saw a butterfly, I took note of the rare occurrence. Imagine my surprise when I saw a second (different) butterfly while we were at the Joy Session! Many cultures believe that butterflies are a symbol of life and I thought it odd that I would see two of them on such a bittersweet day.


After months of struggling with mobility issues caused by the hip dysplasia and arthritis, the time had come. On 8/14/13 Rex’s veterinarian came to my home to allow Rex to pass with dignity and peace. He slipped away comfortably, with his head in my hands, my tears covering his cheeks, and promises of “I’ll love you forever sweet boy” whispered into his ear.

After the vet left my home, I suddenly panicked – had I done the wrong thing? Had I made the wrong choice? Would I ever see him again?!

Not knowing what else to do I lifted my head to the sky and said aloud, “Rex, if you are ok please send me a sign. Like, a butterfly. No – two! Then I know it won’t just be a fluke.” With a smile at how foolish I felt, I then said in jest “And while you’re at it, let me know if the new guy I am dating is a good one. You know how bad I am at picking them out.”

The rest of the day was a blur. What I can remember is what happened the following weekend:


At the family cabin of my boyfriend, I was taking a walk across the yard, still feeling devastated about the absence of my big white fluffy buddy. Looking down, I saw a Monarch butterfly laying on the ground. I gently picked it up and started to head back to the cabin when I came across a SECOND butterfly laying on the ground. I searched the area and confirmed these were the only two butterflies I saw anywhere – be it in the sky or on the ground. I showed them to my boyfriend’s mom and asked her if they usually had butterflies at the cabin. “I haven’t seen one up here in years” was her response (note: no one else knew about my message to Rex).

I did not grow up in a religious household. And I am an Analyst by profession. So I am as ‘trained’ to be skeptical, as someone can be. But I know with all my heart that Rex is ok. That I will see him again.

Until then, the two butterflies sit framed, on the shelf next to the book of Rex’s Joy Session photos that are proudly displayed.


For more of his Joy Session photos: