The Mexican Pet

An Urban Legend

Wharf Rat
Bob Elsdale/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Example #1: 

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 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.