Monday, January 27, 2014

The Drug Dog and I - Part I

You know you are a crime writer when... the top-most thing on your mind when pulled over for a border security baggage search is to watch where the officers DON’T look so you know exactly where the smuggler in your next novel is going to stow his stash.

Yes, okay, all right. I probably did have a few other things on my mind during that search (like ‘OMG! He’s going to see my KY Jelly’ and ‘I can’t believe you’re actually touching my entire two weeks-worth of dirty panties!’) but none of it was likely what Canadian Border Security imagined I was thinking.

Of course in the presence of the law, trying to look innocent when one actually is, is difficult under most circumstances. Thus, when it’s 1 a.m. following a seven-hour flight home from a two-week vacation in Jamaica the task of keeping oneself from getting into even more trouble increases significantly. Especially if you are the kind of person I am—who enjoys being witty, handles stress with humour and lively conversation, and is notoriously dozy after midnight. My keen interest in crime, criminals, law enforcement...and the illicit drug trade didn’t help much in this case, either. I bit my tongue so often during the hour-long ordeal, it is still sore four days later.

Things started off not badly, the flight home from Jamaica was comfortable (thanks to upgraded seats) and quicker than expected (as noted by the flight attendant upon landing—although what that was due to wasn’t mentioned.) We came in on a huge jet, yet despite that fact the line moved through the cattle gates to the Canada Immigration and Customs kiosks fairly quickly. Our turn at the desk hit a bump when we discovered we couldn’t share the cost of my ammolite birthday ring under our exemptions—because, they said, we couldn’t share the ring. They waved us through  despite our error and I calculated I’d be snug in bed in about an hour if the baggage came through in timely manner.
My ammolite ring--a birthday gift from hubby

A dog barking off somewhere was my first clue things were other than usual. I couldn’t see the beast initially but after visiting the loo and re-joining hubby and the rest of flight #TS119 passengers, who were all staring sleepily at a baggage carousel that was not moving, the pooch  came into view.

Now I have a thing against Labrador Retrievers, which is in itself a story. It’s not that I’m afraid of them, in fact I’ve come to the conclusion the fact I’m not, is a large part of what created my Lab problems. I simply don’t respect these dogs that seem to assume I am there for them and their pleasure. Most of my problems rest with the Alpha dogs of this species but the puppy dogs of this species also annoy the "h" out of me. So when I discovered the barking was being emitted by a Chocolate Lab with more energy than Hurricane Katrina and who more than once broke free from it’s handler’s hold to whip around the baggage claim area with abandoned, I was not happy.

From past experience I know ignoring these dogs is not the right strategy (they don’t like being ignored and will escalate their behaviour until you MUST notice them). However, being as it was past the wee witching hour, I had little energy to expend on trying to keep my eyes on a chocolate whirling dervish. Watching the carousel which was still not moving, was more my speed.

True to past experience, my ignoring the critter drew him to my side—and then up on top of my baggage cart where he promptly knocked off one of my carry-ons. He then sat.

Now...if you know anything about law-enforcement dogs, sniffing and then sitting means they’ve smelled something. All these dogs are trained to track people and then some are cross-trained to sniff explosives and others to sniff drugs. They are taught to sit if they catch a whiff. From the very beginning I highly doubted that this Lab was seeking explosives.

“The dog likes your bag,” I said to hubby. The dog glanced behind me to its handler and upon some kind of signal took off after the green tennis ball she threw.

Did I mention I don’t like Chocolate Labs? I’m pretty sure this pup had developed a theory that if he sniffed something and sat, his trainer would toss a ball for him to fetch as a reward. I’m pretty sure he decided to test that theory on me—because, Labs don’t like me any more than I like them.

Anyways with the dog now gone, and the carousel still not moving, hubby decided it was a great time to get his jacket out of his carry-on (as in January, it is noticeable colder in our Alberta homeland than in Jamaica ) and then go to the washroom. In hindsight, the fact an official followed him into the washroom was a good follow-up clue to the dog clue and one that was highly predictive of what was about to happen.

In hindsight, hubby is very glad he needed only to use the urinal and not a cubicle. In hindsight, taking a jacket from the bag a drug dog has just pointed out and heading to the can with it was probably not the least suspicious thing a person could’ve done.

Just when he got back from the can, the carousel began moving and it wasn’t long before our priority luggage was on our cart and we were heading to the back room of Canadian Border Security at the Edmonton International Airport.

Part I of The Drug Dog and I is brought to you by:

a novel about drugs, gangs, cyberCrime and PTSD 


Chris Longmuir said...

I loved this post, and although I am sorry for your ordeal Eileen, it did make me laugh.

Eileen Schuh: said... gets even better, Chris! I'm glad I made you laugh. Someday, maybe when I'm 60, I'll be able to laugh about it, too!

Cheryl Tardif said...

Beautiful ring, and happy 59th--I mean 50th...hehe

Can't wait to read the rest! haha

Note to self: If traveling with Eileen and Alvin, stay 10 people behind... ;-)