Nothing to sniff at

This item appears on page 56 of the December 2011 issue.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is MILT SWOPE of Rescue, CA:


For an early-morning flight out of Amsterdam in October ’10, I arrived at my gate in Schiphol Airport, took a seat nearby and soon was in a deep sleep.

I was awakened by a young lady asking if I spoke English. I had difficulty understanding her, but she explained that she had placed a backpack containing cocaine next to my carry-on because they were training a drug-sniffing dog. She said she had to disappear or the dog would recognize her as his trainer.

Now I was really awake and panicking, as this sounded fishy and she wasn’t wearing any official uniform. My mind raced as to what kind of scam this was.

Shortly, a handler appeared with a nondescript, shaggy-haired, lackadaisical dog not typical of airport-screening canines. The dog was directed to sniff the planted bag, but he had no reaction to it; he was interested only in my carry-on.

The handler left, then returned, opening the drug-laden bag so the dog could sniff inside. The dog still showed no reaction to it but started pawing at my bag. My heart began pounding.

The handler requested that I open my bag. I did so and the dog immediately went for the kilo of Gouda cheese I had just purchased.

I told the handler, “This dog isn’t ready for airport duty and is probably hungry so early in the morning.”

Sheepishly, he replied, “I think you’re right.”