It was pure hell getting her stateside. We were finally able to find some wonderful people to help - thanks to Mary for bringing her to Tucson, Jay for offering her a place to sleep, and Julie for doing everything else!
Delta couldn't fly her to Des Moines due to scheduling conflicts. The best we could do was Minneapolis. Hooray, another road trip. I left about 11am on Tuesday, hoping to miss rush-hour traffic. No such luck. Fortunately I've driven that particular route through Minneapolis enough that I only had one near-death experience... at the Downtown Exits, for those of you who know that area.
I stayed with my friend Sara in the Twin Cities, who graciously offered to drive to pick up Talla. I accepted, because I figured evening rush-hour traffic near the airport (and less than a week before Christmas) would be enough to turn me into a sobbing pile of goo.
We had no idea where we were going. First we went to the wrong terminal, got lost on our way back to the car, and met a very unhelpful lot attendant named Seita.
Us: "Do you know where the Delta Cargo terminal is?"
Seita: "......no. Five dollars."
Us: "Roh.... kay."
Onward. Sara's phone decided that we were driving in a river, so its GPS function was useless. We eventually found some large, dark, scary looking buildings that could have possibly been cargo facilities. On the other hand, they could have been military installations. There was no way to know for sure. The woman at Delta had told me to look for "Building MS4" but none of the buildings had signs... except for the building labeled Sky Chefs. I figured that Sky Chefs could have been a 1990's sitcom, or possibly a reality show on the Food Network.
Somehow we managed to find a building with Delta Cargo on the side. There wasn't any clear parking, so Sara pulled up in front of the entrance like this:
Lo and behold, we found the right nondescript building! The conversation went like this:
Delta employee #1: "Are you here for.... a live animal?"
Us: "Yes... the reference number is XYZ." (as opposed to a... dead animal?)
Delta employee #2: "You here for the puggle?" (totally serious.)
Us: "Haha.... no...."
They told us that we had to wait another 45 minutes before we could pick up Talla, but that the flight had arrived safely and on time. We left, thinking we could get fuel in the meantime. Two other people had arrived after us, but they had parked normally... they shot us funny looks as we got into the crookedly-parked Subaru. Sara's phone still thought we were in the river, so we got lost again. On the way back to the cargo facility, we were so focused on our discussion of the movie Cedar Rapids that we missed our exit. (Sara thinks I should move to Cedar Rapids, because there are hookers and drugs in the movie. I told her I didn't think the real Cedar Rapids was that exciting. She didn't believe me, even though I grew up in Cedar Rapids and never saw any hookers.)
We pulled into the parking lot behind a large semi. The semi zigged, we zagged, and somehow the semi ended up nearly hitting us. In an effort to avoid being crunched, Sara zagged again and unintentionally cut off the semi. The path was somewhat like this:
We hurried inside, since we really didn't want the semi driver to confront us about our crazy driving. By this time, Talla had arrived and was ready to be retrieved. A much nicer employee named Baliek offered me a bouquet of pens ("They're seasonal!" he cheerfully exclaimed) to sign the collection paperwork, and then instructed us to wait at Cargo Bay 1 for them to bring out Talla.
We went to Cargo Bay 1, but the door was closed and the only door had scary signs saying you needed special security clearance to enter. We went back to ask Baliek what we were supposed to do, and he told us to just wait. So we went back, and waited. Eventually, the bay door opened and along came.... a forklift. With a pallet. With one item on said pallet.... a tiny little dog crate containing a little street puppy from Mexico! It was ridiculous, so we both started laughing. Here's an idea of what it looked like:
We packed her up and drove to Chuck & Dons to buy her some toys. Despite being passed around and flown half-way across the country, she bounced right back and was quite social. After buying her toys she probably didn't need, we headed back to Sara's house... where she played like crazy for three solid hours. She made three of us bleed with her razor-sharp puppy teeth. I had to actually put her in a crate for her to actually settle down enough to fall asleep.
There you have it.... how we got a Mexican street dog to the American Midwest.
Also, in case you were not aware, Talla is not a bird. Nor is she a fish, or a turtle. Just making sure that's clear.