I have treated my 17-year-old son to a trip to Ireland, the ould home sod, on my frequent flier miles. He joins me about half-way through my vacation. Before I leave, and again on the phone to him before he leaves, I am firm: “ Bring NO ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES. I’m sure you can find what you need over here.” I am a Modern Mom, but there are limits.

The trip is lovely, the pubs don’t ask for his ID, and he spends his time, as far as I know, with Guinness and uisge beatha bought upfront and open. And so we return to Seattle, from Cork via Heathrow.

It is a long journey and we arrive back staggering. At International Arrivals I am waiting for our bags to burp out of the chute so that Customs can contemplate the dirty underwear.

Suddenly, there is a strangled “Mom.” I turn around. There are uniformed guards, and there is a stiff looking beagle, pointing…..at my knapsack. And all around us there are shocked tourists looking at……me.

Holy Shit, Nik I TOLD you” I start, as he simultaneously screeches “I didn’t, I swear I didn’t, and NEVER in your pack the whole trip…”

The uniform walks over to me and says sternly: “Importation of Fruit is prohibited. Do you have any apples, pears, bananas, etc in the pack?”


We did have some apples in the pack, but we ate them on the flight. My pack is emptied, apple-less and even core-less, and we are sent on our way, the scent of departed apples still intriguing the dog.

On a later trip I tell this story to another Customs Official, who tells me that all beagles are “fruit dogs,” at least in the US. I don’t know if this is true: the US Customs Service site on Dog Sniffers, http://www.customs.gov/enforcem/canine/question.htm#top , doesn’t distinguish them—or for that matter, even suggest that Fruit is a dog-tagged topic. But if you are carrying a couple of pounds of high-street-value apples into the Seattle airport, Beware of the Beagle.

For other Adventures of Auldtwa, click here and here.

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