The Mexican Pet

An Urban Legend

Wharf Rat
Bob Elsdale/The Image Bank/Getty Images

As told by '"Starsxnine"...

This woman and her husband go to Mexico. Outside their motel room, the lady notices a strange-looking small doggie. She feeds it for a couple of nights and eventually she lets the dog sleep in the room with them. She falls in love with this ugly, but adorable pooch and decides to take it home at the end of their vacation.

She carries the animal in a blanket onto a bus that is taking them to the airport. The new pet is licking her face as she snuggles with it. She notices a local older man on the bus looking at her. She asks the man if he knows what possible breed of dog she has grown to love. He tells her that it's not a dog she is cuddling, but it is actually a large type of Mexican rat.

Example #2:
As told by Lorraine Lovely...

This story was told to my husband by one of the truck drivers at work. It is supposed to be true, but then someone told him that he found it on the internet. I have not been able to confirm it....

The truck driver's wife works in Boston on the docks where this little white dog comes around at noon and everyone feeds it a little something from their lunch. The wife went home and asked her husband if he would mind if she got a dog. She told him about the stray that everyone has been feeding. He said that he didn't think she wanted a dog. She said it would be nice company since he was away from home a lot, so he agreed.

She went to work the next day and the dog did not show up, but the next day the dog was there. Everyone gave him something to eat and she coaxed the dog into her car and brought him home. She washed, cleaned and bathed him, and the dog slept with her the bed that night and the next night.

The next day she came home from work and found the dog had eaten her cat. The only thing left of the cat was the skull. There was no blood anywhere. She called the veterinarian who told her to bring the dog right in. He could not do anything for the cat, but the bones from the cat could do injury to the dog.

She brought the dog right in and was in the waiting room when the nurse (assistant) asked her to step into one of the rooms immediately!! When she got in the room the vet asked her where she got the dog and she told her it was a stray she found where she works near the docks in Boston.

The vet told her she had to kill it immediately — that it was not a dog, but a 40-pound Cambodian rat that came in from one of the ships in the harbor. The rat was so big that it looked liked a small dog with a little snub tail.

Example #3:
As told by Matt Stone...

My best friend told me of this story. Supposedly true — it happened to them....

His family had just purchased a small puppy. They had only had it for a week or so and decided to take it to the beach with them. When they arrived, they found out that they could not take the puppy onto the public beach because of a city ordinance. Instead of traveling back home to leave the puppy or leaving it in a hot car, they left it on its leash... tied to the car.

After a few hours, the came back to the car to discover that someone had stolen their puppy. The leash and collar were still there, tied to the car. They searched all around the parking lot for the puppy. No luck. They did, however, find another scruffy looking dog wandering the lot with no collar. Instead of leaving with no pet, the decided to give the mutt a home.

They brought it home and kept it in the house with them for a week. They then decided to take the dog to the vet to get his shots, etc. Upon examining the dog, the vet made two discoveries:

  1. Their new pet was not a dog, but a large dock rat.
  2. Their puppy was not missing, but had been eaten by the rat.

Analysis: A variant of this legend long told in Europe is called "The Turkish Pet," demonstrating that no matter where in the world it may turn up, the story tends to convey a xenophobic message: beware of foreign lands and the strange and scary things that come from them.

Another repetitive motif in tellings of this legend is death. The misidentified "dog" either kills another family pet after it's brought home, for example, or is found to be dying itself from some unpleasant disease caught on the streets, or it ends up drowning in the toilet.

According to folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand, the tale is at least a century old, with variants dating back as far as the mid-nineteenth century.

See also: "The Tainted Toothbrushes," another xenophobia-laden urban legend.