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Border Force

Nose to nose with trouble

By Hannah MoorePublished 3 months ago 5 min read
Border Force
Photo by David Trinks on Unsplash

“Open the bag please sir”, I say, staring my most intimidating stare, eyes fixed, lip curled, ears forward. They’re usually so shocked they don’t immediately run at least, but nor do they immediately obey. I allow my hackles to rise slightly. He doesn’t know it, not consciously, but his gut still picks up on it and he feels the threat, I hear it in his quickened heartbeat. “Take out the cocaine and place it on the counter”. Sometimes, in a stressful situation, people need clear direction. It can help.

“But…” he begins. I push my face forward, my nose is touching his. “You think I don’t know it’s in there? You think I can smell it? You know what else I can smell? You shit your pants and take them home for Mummy to wash, am I right? Pup doesn’t know how to keep himself clean. Now take out the cocaine, and place it on the counter, or everyone here is going to know about that little magazine in there and how many times you’ve enjoyed it.” I can’t do that, not with any precision, but he doesn’t know. He takes out the cocaine. The guards cuff him, and I stand down.

This border force has become the most effective in the country since I came to work here. We don’t publicise it, it serves us that smugglers don’t know. Word will get out pretty fast though and there is already talk of rotating me through other postings, ensure they’re scared to use any entry point. I wouldn’t mind for myself, but Jess, my handler, is pregnant, and when she realises, she’s probably going to want to stop moving around. Might be time for a career change I guess. People are always telling me I could make millions in entertainment, but I’m a pack animal, what can I say? I was raised to value taking care of the pack, and Jess says, in a way, this whole country is my pack. I’m not going to lie, I like the status too. I know everyone THINKS these big movie stars have status, but it’s a hollow respect, not like the kudos you get when you take another bad guy off the streets. Besides, what does a dog need with a load of money?

I’m doing my rounds now, checking bags and bodies as people stand in line. I keep quiet on the floor, use the cues I’ve been taught. Save the talking for the interview rooms. The surprise factor can go a long way, plus there’s always the chance people will think they’re barking mad and word won’t get around so fast. I find another one. Bananas this time. Can’t have bananas coming in, there’s banana diseases. Jess read me an article. Bananas could be wiped out. Finally it made a bit of sense that we had to stop bananas.

We take the banana guy to an interview room. Overkill for bananas, I know, but business is slow today. Yesterday we made six drug arrests, four seizures of illegal wildlife products and I found a bomb. Well, the makings of a bomb. I’ve only found one actual bomb in my career, it’s like the holy grail of contraband. Anyway. Yesterday bombs, today bananas. But something smells off and I want to check it out.

Banana guy stands at the counter and I jump up to sit on the bench opposite. “Bananas”, I say. The man jumps. He’s middle aged, with a large belly overhanging loose jeans, his face a multitude of sins that fur would work a treat at hiding. They age so badly, humans. “You can’t bring fresh produce into the country sir” I say. “I’m going to need you to remove the bananas. Is there anything else you need to declare?” Banana guy looks puzzled, then alarmed. He opens his bag, removes the bananas, then rummages again. “I was going to eat them on the way, but I got a ham and cheese sandwich and….” He pulls his hand out, now holding a pear. Don’t know why, I’ve always had a blind spot for pears. I’m embarrassed but I don’t show it. Instead I focus. There is still something else.

“I am going to need to search you sir. I have to ask, would you prefer a human officer to conduct the body search?” Still completely befuddled, banana man says nothing. Jess guides him to stand like a sagging star in the middle of the room, and I move around him, my nose working. Suddenly, my blood runs cold. I sit – it’s hard to overcome the training sometimes – and I can sense the guards shift to alert. “No,” I say. “No bomb, sorry.” I look at this man standing there, nervous, tired, hopeful, and for a moment words fail me. I pull myself together. “Sit down, please.” I say, softer now, like how I talk to Jess when she tells me she doesn’t feel good enough, or she hurts inside.

“What is the purpose of your visit, sir?” I ask.

“I’m visiting my son,” he tells me “my wife is already here”. I’m glad.

“Sir, I believe there may be a problem with your bladder. I am detecting signs of malignancy and I am advising you to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out anything serious.” I keep it calm, business like, but this man really needs to see someone. He thanks me, looking more dazed than ever, and leaves his bananas on the counter. There is quiet in the room. After a minute, Jess gives me a treat, and we head back out. I think the guards look at me differently as we go. More tenderness? Admiration? Fear?

That night, I snuggle with Jess and Ed, my head in Jess’s lap, and Ed’s left hand ruffling the fur at my flank. Jess seems to be giving me extra fuss tonight, like it’s me that might die. I’m thinking I’ve found a new career.

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Comments (3)

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  • Dana Crandellabout a month ago

    Great story, especially to a dog lover like me!

  • Dana Stewart2 months ago

    Cute premise and well-written!

  • Gal Mux3 months ago

    Oh wow. A talking border patrol dog! Great story!

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