Thor

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Thor was an awesome dog. Thor was a 90 pound dark red Golden Retriever. Thor and I made many journeys together, including numerous trips into the Quetico Provincial Park. Thor loved the water. It was almost impossible to keep him out of the water. He loved to swim, so much so, that he would even break the thin skim ice along the shore of a pond or lake so he could swim in the near freezing water.

Like Argo, Thor loved to go canoeing, but unlike Argo, Thor didn't like to roam. I think it would have been impossible to lose Thor for he never wandered out of sight of me. When on canoe trips we would have to portage from one lake to another, and on these portages Thor would start off on the trail only to stop at a bend or at the top of a rise and wait for me or one of our canoe partners before heading further down the trail. Many times he was also carrying his own pack which held his own food and other supplies for Thor, and when he would get out of the canoe he would patiently wait so we could put his pack on and when he got to the other side of the portage he would wait until we took off his pack before jumping into the water, keeping his pack as dry as possible.

Thor also was equally as good on a hiking trail. When the trail became hard to find, he didn't have any trouble finding it. Two New Year's Days Thor joined my friend Larry Hanson and myself on a snow shoe adventure up Mystical Mountain on the grounds of the Wolf Ridge Outdoor Environmental Learning Center near Finland, Minnesota. On both of these trips there was at least several feet of new snow, and one of these years it snowed about a foot of new snow while we were out for this three hour adventure. At first Thor wanted to break a trail, but he soon found at that plunging into three to four feet of snow was a lot of work and soon let Larry and I on our snow shoes break a trail and compact the snow so Thor wasn't sinking into the snow too deeply. At one point of this adventure we climbed a slope that was ice and snow covered and appeared to be nearly a ninety degree slope. Larry and I had trouble climbing up this slope and Thor just about refused to go any further, but we got Thor up in stages by one of us climbing up a little ways and then the other of us would lift Thor up to the person up higher, and then the other of us would them climb up even higher to repeat these process a couple more times before getting past this 20 feet or so cliff.

In November of 2000, Thor, Odin, Mark Hatherly, Larry Hanson and I went on a weekend camping and hiking trip along the Superior Hiking Trail in northern Minnesota. On a gray, wet day, we hiked about 11 miles along the portion Superior Hiking Trail that runs through Tettegouche State Park. Thor had been a little slow and have a bit of trouble getting up and down stairs lately, but on this trip he was a trooper. I was surprised how well he did, in fact I think he did better than my friend Mark.

On December 20, 2000 Thor at the age of 10 and a half years, passed away, and I wrote the following note to friends and family how knew Thor:

    My dear friend Thor and I have been on many journeys together through life. However today Thor is taking a journey on his own. Today while I was at school, Thor's generous heart gave out.
    I will always treasure my memories of this warm, lovably fuzzy friend for the rest of my days.
    Odin and I will truly miss our dear friend Thor.

When my brother heard of Thor's death, Ted had this to say in reference to when we were remodeling my house in Minnetonka:

    "To the end of my days I'll remember Thor: we were working in your laundry room, and he'd come in to join us. He was all curled up on some pile of dirt where I needed to be, so I told him "Thor, you're in the way -- can you move?" And he got up and ambled over to the other side of the room and curled up on another pile of dirt -- he understood perfectly. Smart, good-looking, friendly."

It has been nearly eight years since Thor passed away, and to this day just thinking of him brings both joy to my heart and tears to my eyes.