Robert Kirby: In the absence of pets, we make do

(Photo courtesy of Robert Kirby) Elder Robert Kirby with his dog, Worthless.

My family has been dogless since the world’s stupidest yellow Labrador died four months ago. There were no complications. It was just her time.

Daisy’s death left a hole in our hearts but also less hair on the floor and less slobber on the furniture.

With the possible exception of the military and my church mission, this may be the longest stretch of time I’ve ever spent without a pet.

Even then I had objects of my affection that could be called pets. For example, in 1972, there was a pigeon that flew into the ventilation fan of our basic training barracks on Tank Hill at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Being mostly kids and away from anyone who cared about us for the first time, we needed somewhere to focus our emotions. So we concealed the pigeon and tried to nurse it back to health. But the drill sergeant found and killed it.

“If the Army wanted you to have a [deleted] pigeon, it would have given you one at reception. Any of you [bad word] get a [whoa!] pigeon at reception?”


“That’s what I thought. I should make you eat this [#@(&*] thing. Outside! We’re going for a run.”

On my church mission, I had a couple of dogs. The one in the accompanying photo is Worthless, who followed me around a country town in Uruguay. I enjoyed his company better than I did that of my human companion. He hated Worthless and tried to make him leave by kicking and throwing rocks at him. According to him, two guys and a dog made for useless servants of the Lord.

I suggested that dead ones weren’t of much use to the Lord either. All of this ended with the Lord inspiring the mission president to separate us by 200 kilometers.

The point here is that some of us need pets. I’ve had all kinds. And with the exception of a scorpion, a snake and two spiders, not one has ever turned on me. They’ve always been there to fill in the gaps of boredom.

Thanks to the quarantine, I need another pet. We won’t get one, though. My wife and I have serious differences in what constitutes an appropriate house pet.

For her, it’s a dog. Properly groomed and well-behaved. For me, it’s anything that will fit through the door and not try to kill me right away. Since we can’t agree, we’ll stay petless.

I didn’t know how bad things were getting until a few days ago when I found myself standing at the back gate with a leash that hasn’t been used in months.

It’s been so difficult not having a pet that I’m starting to become confused.

Recently, a grandson came downstairs to mooch some money off me. I had the cash and was more than willing to give it to him. But when I got it out, I automatically said, “Sit, boy. Sit!”

Getting weird looks from the family now. A few more months and I just might qualify as a pet.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.