Guerrera in field

We recently assisted a Mexican migrant enter the UK and settle in Staffordshire. The migrant left Mexico in November 2019 and spent 8 months in California. Several earlier attempts, including via the Netherlands, to get her into the UK failed because coronavirus disrupted the travel routes. When she eventually arrived she  had to spend a mere 24 hours in quarantine and that was only due only to a mistake in the paperwork, otherwise she would have been waved through. She has been granted permanent residence in the UK for a relatively small sum of money - certainly less than the cost of a visa. Everyone we speak to thinks it is a touching story. 

Our migrant doesn't qualify for refugee status although she would certainly have died wandering the streets alone, malnourished and seriously injured, if she not been found, taken in and cared for by the Student and her boyfriend while on a Van Life tour of Mexico.

Guerrera, in English "warrior", arrived at Heathrow from Los Angeles with the Student's boyfriend on 24th July but was detained until the next day. The Student and Boyfriend had to return to The Sticks without her to begin the 14 day quarantine mandated for persons arriving from the US.  

After providing quarantine facilities for the Student who had returned from the US in April (at that time it was not demanded by Her Majesty's Government but we thought it a necessary precaution) we were prepared for the disruption and had everything arranged: separate bathroom, dining room, garden space; agreed routine for providing meals, drinks, laundry services; extra soap and hand sanitiser for almost constant hand washing.

What we had not anticipated was a five hour round trip to Heathrow to collect a dog we had never met but whose every adventure, misadventure and habit we had shared.

We arrived a little early and had to wait. And then, there she was, sitting in her crate, bright eyed and alert, trembling with a frowning, puzzled look on her expressive face.  Introductions were swift. She sniffed the two worn T shirts we had taken - one from the Boyfriend and the other the Student -  to reassure her. She was happy to accept treats and, when released from the crate, she bounded towards us, sniffing, her tail lashing from side to side and her enormous ears rotating like radio telescopes to catch every new sound.

Introductions over, she stood patiently while her harness was fitted and we were given a brief summary of what she had already eaten that day.  She had been a little nervous but was otherwise fine. She had suffered no ill effects from her twelve hour journey. All systems functioning normally.

Guerrera 02

Five minutes later we were heading for home, the Mexican warrior sitting upright in the back seat of our car looking around her, eyes heavy, but unwilling to sleep. I wondered what she was thinking. For a dog barely more than a year old she had been through a lot. From the streets of Mexico to the motorways of Britain via the outskirts of LA, she was a well travelled dog. 

The last time she had seen a person she knew was nearly 48 hours ago when he put her in the crate and handed her over to strangers at Los Angeles airport and now she was strapped into a car with two more strangers, a worried look on her face.  I gave her another dog treat and hoped she would lie down and sleep, but she sat and stared, her eyes fixed on me.

It wouldn't be long now.

We arrived back at the Sticks. The Student and the Boyfriend were standing in their area of the garden waiting. We released the dog from her harness and persuaded her to climb out of the car. She stood in the twilight, puzzled. Then a familiar voice called to her. In that instant she transported herself across the garden, launched herself into their waiting arms and smothered them with her dog kisses. Her ordeal was over, maybe forgotten.

Only dogs can show such unrestrained joy when they are reunited with their family.