The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Baggage Line

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Rush Limbaugh isn’t the only one being sniffed out for carrying innocent (though embarrass- ing) substances while flying back to the United States. On my recent return from London I noticed a cute little dog jumping up on a passenger who was waiting at the baggage belt. This dog wasn’t just wagging his tail to say hello

– he was fingering the passenger for carrying contraband items into the country. The woman’s offense? She had half a turkey and cheese sandwich leftover from the plane’s lunch box in her bag. The customs agent spoke sternly to the woman and confiscated the sandwich.

The next woman to be sniffed out was younger than the first and didn’t get off so easily. The agent not only looked through the book bag Fido was happily pawing, but he insisted that the woman open her suitcase right there next to the baggage belt, exposing her dirty linen and who knows what else to the traveling public.

Here was my dilemma: I was carrying a bag full of Cad- bury chocolates for my children. Packaged candy is perfectly legal to bring into the States, but the dog wouldn’t know that. If the mutt sniffed out my bag and wagged his tail, I would be ordered to open my suitcase. I wasn’t carry- ing anything illegal, but I would have to refuse, as a matter of principle. I would then be dragged off to a private examination room, adding an hour or two to my already too- long travel day. So I kept an eye on the progress of the dog and his master as they worked their way around the hall, and whenever they came close I strode purposefully to the other side of the belt, as though I had just seen my bag. My warning to Liberty readers: beware of friendly dogs in customs halls. And leave your half-eaten sandwich on the plane.

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