In a recent column in the SLTrib (17 Nov 2012), humorist Robert Kirby made the following comments about his Mormon mission to Uruguay-Paraguay:
Popular post-mission claims to the contrary, my mission was not the best two years of my life. In fact, the first 18 months were easily the worst. Ever. It was my fault. I wasted all that time trying to be someone I wasn’t
So what helped save the last 6 months of Elder Kirby’s mission? A stray dog.
One day, a starving brown dog came up to us on the street. I patted his head and he followed us home. He was covered with sores and ticks. I gave him something to eat.
When I opened the door the next morning, the dog was sleeping next to our bikes. I let him in, cleaned him up and gave him a name [Lurch]. A week later, he was sleeping on my bed.
Kirby goes on to relate several amusing stories about dressing up Lurch as a missionary. But this activity created some “serious” institutional issues:
Not everyone was happy about [Lurch]. Our district leader showed up at the apartment. Dressing up the dog like a missionary was giving people the wrong idea about the restored gospel.
A vigorous theological discussion ensued. He cited mission rules as his authority to banish the dog. When I countered with the possibility of one of us being badly injured in the service of the Lord, he left fuming.
Complaints about the dog elder went all the way to the mission president, who was truly inspired. When the district leader was tranferred a few weeks later, I took it as a sign.
Elder Kirby got very attached to Elder Lurch, and looked into taking him home to the USA. But “the amount of money to ship a 50-pound dog to the states was astronomical.”
I took a note from myself. Lurch would hate it in my parent’s backyard in Salt Lake City. Just like me, he would hate being forced to become something he wasn’t. He was meant for a life off the porch.
Hopefully, Elder Lurch continued to be loved and appreciated for the remainder of his dog’s life.