My family has had a dog for the last 13 years. His name is Thor (courtesy of my 7-year-old obsession with Norse mythology), and he is a big, wonderful, goofy, friendly, ~80 pound golden retriever. He’s also nearing the end of his life.

I really wish that that weren’t true. It is. Wishing won’t change that. He’s still happy, and not in any obvious pain. He still wags, and smiles, and greets everyone who comes in the door with the energy of a dog half his age. But in the back of my mind I wonder how much time we have left with him. He is slowing down noticeably, but he still loves his walks.

I haven’t been home for very much of my summer break, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I came home. After a few days to recover from the jet lag, my parents asked me to take Thor for his evening, post-dinner walk. He eats around 4 - 4:15, so we started our walk at about 4:30. At that time of day during California’s summers, the sun is just beginning to set. The light takes on a golden quality and every leaf on every tree has its own glowing halo. Time seems to slow down. When I walk Thor, especially at this time, the world seems simpler, easier. Thor has this way of looking up at you, a look that is both to make sure that you’re still there, and to express his happiness at being outside walking with you. I don’t ever want those moments to end.

Yet end they eventually must. I don’t know how much longer we have with Thor, but I intend to savor every moment I can.