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Bringing your dogs to Mexico

Maggie Van Ostrand

Moving to Mexico was the easy decision; bringing my dogs with me was harder. First, how would I get them there?

I didn't trust airplanes transporting animals. I thought they might lose my two big dogs who would surely end up in St. Louis or Jersey City or Mule Shoe. The train was out, too, because they refused to allow the dogs to stay anywhere but caged the luggage car and worse, refused to allow me to sleep in the luggage car with them. The nerve!

I was afraid to drive all the way down to Guadalajara by myself, not counting the dogs, so that left only one way. I took all my savings and hired a Lear jet. I'm not making this up. Ask my kids, who haven't gotten over it yet. "Gee Mom, you sure know how to live." I didn't tell them that the dogs were flying in style on their inheritance.

Letty Moore, with a bunch of official-looking gents, met our plane on the tarmac and I had all the dogs' papers with proof of inoculations and so forth, so it was made easy to get my pets to our new home. Now comes the hard part.

The food they prefer was not obtainable at that time, so I, being a ferocious protector of my furry family, would occasionally fly back to Los Angeles where boutique pet stores are in abundance due to the Hollywood wives sucking up to their pets to keep them from running away from home like their husbands do.

After having bought every delicacy known to the canine kingdom, like pigs' ears, liver squares, bone meal and so on, I packed two big suitcases of treats until they weighed about 30 pounds each, and headed for the airport and the return trip to Guadalajara. I couldn't lift the bags myself so I was tipping redcaps left, right and center, to get help. They could not help me with the problem about to rear its ugly head.

That very day airport security decided to have a serious check of travelers due to some possible bomb threat or something equally less important than treats for my waiting dogs. This was fine with me. A pat-down these days is the only sex I get.

So who knew security would use bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs that day?

Have you guessed whose bags these whistle-blowing dogs decided to stand and stiffly point at until every security guard in the nation surrounded me and my luggage? You got it. Mine.

I told them the contents of the bags but of course, being men, they had to open everything up and feel around inside. I offered the sniffer dogs a pig's ear, just like a matador offers a celebrity a bull's ear. They refused to take it. Good dogs. Not helpful, but good.

Eventually, the security people permitted the bags to go through to the plane and, fool that I am, I thought the anxiety-making situation was over.

At Miguel Hidalgo Airport, I began to freak out with the realization that it might even be worse there than Los Angles. I went through customs okay. I had declared the contents. What'm I, stupid? Besides, even if they thought me a smuggler, they'd know I was not a liar. When it came time to press the button on the traffic light located right there in the middle of the airport, I was praying for a green light and a fast departure to a taxi headed for Ajijic.

I got the red light.

Now Mexican customs officials inspected the bags, held the contents up and examined them thoroughly, much more so than in California. They looked angrily at me. I could swear that the mustache on one large customs guy twitched with indignant rage.

But then a curious thing happened. The man at the desk who held my paperwork came running over to where we were all standing, waving a card in his hand. "Wait," he said, breathless from his un-Mexican-like dash, "She has said the truth!" He handed my customs declaration to the mustached official, who read it with interest. Suddenly, a large smile broke across his wide face.

He said, "Welcome to Guadalajara!"

The moral of this story is: Adopt a dog who already lives in Mexico. It's a whole lot easier on the nerves.

Published or Updated on: November 1, 2005 by Maggie Van Ostrand © 2005
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