Monday, 23 March 2009

The Wrong Dog

I have a friend here, on-island, who, according to my husband, plays the role of Lucy, while I act the role of Ethel, aka, the old time TV show, I Love Lucy. Together we do seem to find ourselves in hair-brained schemes, impossible missions, trouble and just plain fun.
I was on my way to Dallas for the weekend. The plan was as follows, I would arrive on Friday, collect all of the supplies that the Cozumel Humane Society would need for the Carnaval parade, some other miscellaneous purchases, shop for 8 hours, and return home.
The day I am due to leave, Lucy tells me that I’ll be transporting a dog as well. Believe it or not, it’s a fairly common occurrence. People come on vacation, fall in love with an available-for-adoption dog, and the wonderful Humane Society volunteers arrange for transportation to the new owners. Happens all the time, and it’s ironically easier to transport a dog to re-locate to another country than a human being.
Since this entire trip was Lucy’s idea, and I’m staying with her family, she and the dog arrive to take me to the airport. The dog is inspected, by the baggage handler, to ensure that he doesn’t have bags of drugs secreted in his body, his crate or his tours. The paperwork clears fine, the dog is accepted, and we’re bound for Dallas. On arrival Dallas goes smoothly, the dog is waiting for me in oversized luggage, I clear customs quickly , spend less than 5 minutes in the US department of Agriculture, and arrive to see my friend’s relived family waiting for me.
“You made it, hurrah,” her father says with a wave of relief, “We thought you’d be arrested or atleast detained.” “We’re sooo happy to see you,” enthuses her brother, “I can’t imagine how many international laws you’ve just broken,” he coos cheerfully. It’s then that they tell me that I’ve brought the wrong dog. It took them about 5 minutes to convince me that this wasn’t some sick joke.
Apparently Lucy arrived, as usual, late and distracted, at the foster family’s home. There were two dogs in the yard, their personal dog, Max, and Jag, the adoptee dog. No one was home so she quickly inadvertently took Max, leaving Jag behind. I stupidly took paperwork listing my charge as a 20 lb. black dog, and arrived in Texas with a 40 lb. brindled Cozumel dog. I didn’t read the paperwork, and clearly, the US department of Agriculture didn’t either.
Max’s owners had already phoned the house, several times. Max’s mom was in an absolute panic after arriving home to find only her foster dog. Max holds a cherished place in her home and has a bevy or personal needs. Max doesn’t eat kibble. He can eat cooked eggs, or salmon, he doesn’t like loud noises, children or chaos.
I’m staying at Lucy’s sister’s house. She has 2 children, 4 dogs, her brother, 3 nieces, a houseguest and me staying at her home this weekend. To call it a fun and loud three ring circus would be an understatement. Throughout the weekend, I saw Max being walked by 3 giggling girls on rollerblades, wearing a t-shirt, and found him sleeping with the boys in a bunk bed. Max ate the same kibble as the other dogs, and generally rolled around and thrived on the mayhem.
Monday morning, Max, the incorrect paperwork, and I arrive at the airport. Dallas was experiencing a unusual coldsnap and I was eager to return home. Lucy’s father had taken several hours and carefully packed everything on 3 49.5 lb suitcases. Apparently it’s an FAA regulation that pets cannot fly in temperatures less than 45 degrees. Temperature upon check in was 42. The airline staff was extremely helpful and waited to load all of my heavy baggage until the last possible moment, however, it was still only 44 degrees. I had the option to fly myself and ditch the dog on Lucy’s father, but Max, wasn’t going anywhere.
Lucy’s father told me to go ahead, with the resignation that only a long-term victim can muster. He assured me, that he was accustomed to situations such as these and would find someone else to take Max home. I knew at that moment, that I couldn’t just leave, we were in this scheme together. The next available flight for Max and I was Wednesday. Together, we went home to explain what happened to Max’s family, as soon as we got back from our “dry run” to the airport.
Wednesday morning we returned to the airport, dog and incorrect paperwork in hand. This time the temperature wasn’t an issue, and Max and I returned to Cozumel. As I cleared immigration, they questioned me about returning with a dog. I filled their ears with ludicrous stories about how, being childless, I couldn’t leave my beloved dog for even a long weekend. Obviously, I sounded deranged, so they stamped my paperwork, glad to see the back of me.
Next came the Mexican department of agriculture. I opened my mouth to again start the “I love my dog” song and dance, when the officer held up his hand and said, “Before you even start, I just wanted to let you know, that I am aware of the full story of the wrong dog.”
“Was it in the local newspaper?, I croaked. I looked through the glass window in his office to find, Lucy, Max’s mom, a humane society vet, a volunteer and 3 friends, waving wildly. I felt popular for a moment, until I realized they weren’t waving at me, it was all for Max.
The agriculture officer went on to say how he would let me go this time, however, the NEXT time I was returning a dog to Mexico I needed additional paperwork, signed by a US vet. I respectfully cut in, to add that this was one of the biggest nightmares of my life and that I would never, ever repeat this chapter in my life again. We ended our meeting by looking each other in the eyes and giggling. “I can’t believe you took the wrong dog to another country,” he said as Max and I left his office.
To this day I have no idea how many laws I broke, nor do I wish to know the jail time associated with said laws. Long suffering husband didn’t even bat an eye. He’s waiting to see what we’ll do next.

1 comment:

DonW said...

Ethel??? I don't think so.
Perhaps Moe, Larry or Curly would be more appropriate