Saturday, January 10, 2009

#6 and #7 -- a dog, a truck -- no gun

I am living a country-western song. If El Profesor lives until May, both he and my truck will head down Mexico way. Should he predecease my departure, I will rely on the services of Alaska Airlines to fly to Melaque. (The "predecease" is a special gift to all of you lawyers out there.)

Because the ignition is broken on my time machine, I am going to have to guess what is going to happen in three months. Two days ago, he was declining fast enough I thought I cuild buy my airplabe tickets this week. Today, I should be planning a full year of romps on the beach.

So, granting that fate can be cruel, let's take the optimistic option. Jiggs is coming to Mexico.

Jonna has already given me some very helpful hints on bringing the dog south. She has three dogs and a cat. That counts as being an expert in my book.

When Jiggs's hips starts bothering him, he needs a special Cortisone cocktail injection. I was under the impression that it would be diffivcult to find the Cortisone in Mexico. Jonna tells me otherwise: buy Cortisone in a pharmacy and do my own canine injections. Big dogs are easy to inject. Jiggs is no exception. And I can buy thyroid medicine for him right off the shelf.

Several bloggers have talked about the difficulty of buying reliable dog food. THeir solution is to cook up dinner for their companions. Like most golden retrievers, Jiggs has a tendncy to get skin rashes -- especially in the heat. But a lot of the rashes are diet-induced. I may tote a couple bags of his food to Melaque and start transitioining hiom to my cooking. I already know that he loves peppers.

I will get a rabies certificate for him before I leave. Most people say that they are never asked. But I am the guy who the British customs agents repeatedly confuse with an IRA sympasthizer. If something bad can happen at the botrder, it will most likely happen to me. I even have trouble at the Canadian border.

Then there is the truck. It will be eight years old this year. I own it outright -- a small SUV. There are a few mechanical issues that I need to address. But I will take it south only if I need to use it as a dog carrier.

American-licensed vehicles seem to be a magnet for problems in Mexico. Tie that fact to the expsense of having to maintain insurance in Oregon to keep my registration legal, and the convenience of having a vehicle available comes at a very high expense.

If I take the truck south, I need to take care of the following issues:

  • Schedule full checkup
  • Change oil
  • Repair brakes
  • Purchase new tires
  • Purchase extra supplies/parts
  • Purchase Mexican automobile insurance policy

If I do not take the truck south, I can always rely on public transportation or rent a car for my longer out-of-the-way trips. As soon as I can (after getting my FM3), I will look into purchasing a vehicle in Mexico.

All I need now is a big belt buckle and a range hat. The dog and truck -- I already have.


Larry Lambert said...

Steve - Talk to your insurance agent. They can probably put your insurance on hold so you can keep it. It might cost you around six dollars a month to do it but it keeps your registration legal. Obviously, you won't want to do it until you cross the border.

Take a look at Exceed dog food from Sam's. My yellow Lab had all kinds of alergy issues up north, but this food seems to work great with her. It's first listed ingredient is lamb, it's not full of filler and it doesn't have all of the preservatives.

Larry Lambert

Larry Prater said...

I hope the Professor lives long enough to enjoy the last of his life running on the beach in Mexico.
You probably know that if your bring your truck you can "nationalize" your truck once it is ten years old. Vehicles are much more expensive here, so that is an advantage of bringing it. I am not clear why you would need to continue to pay for insurance in the US, I think you would only need Mexican insurance.
We have a pickup here and it is quite handy for hauling things and if you are inclined to do good favors for friends and neighbors, there will be plenty of chances of you have a pickup.
Sams and Costco sell Purina Dog Chow and Pedigree and other US type dog food, as well as many rather small animal feed stores have the same feed for dogs. It is not a problem here in my area.

Jonna said...

Don't worry about the big belt buckle and the boots, that we have in surplus here in México.

If you want to email me the cortisone and thyroid prescriptions, I will check and make sure they are available - or ask my vet for their equivalents so you can check that with your vet.

Our one problem with the thyroid was that our dog that takes it is the smallest one and at first we had to break a pill for her. Now she is doing well on a lower dose.

1st Mate said...

Steve - If you can possibly take your truck, it would be good to have it in Mexico. When you get down here you can file a certificate of non-operation with WA Motor Vehicles which basically means you're not operating it in the States, and then you don't have to carry US insurance until such time as you drive it back into the states. You can do the non-op and reverse procedure online. You are going to be near Manzanillo and probably can find parts easier than you think. Stay on the toll roads, don't drive at night, and I think you'll find it's an easier and safer trip than you expect. I do hope you get to have those romps on the beach together. So sorry I will miss meeting you, but I will be in Barra/Melaque before you get there, and have to leave sometime in April in order to get to LoretoFest.

Anonymous said...

Steve, we drove our 1993 4-Runner into Mexico. It had 200,000 + miles on it. We always had it checked before our travels and for four years we had no troubles with it. Mexico is pretty tough on cars as far as the pot holes, topes (speed bumps) etc. A truck is perfect for travel into Mexico and eight years old sounds just right. You do not want to attract attention with a flashy, new model. Our American friends who lived in Mexico always bought their new vehicles in the states and then drove them down. It is more expensive to buy a vehicle in Mexico. We used Don Smith Insurance located in Nogales, Arizona. We just made a call with our information and they mailed our packet to us in the states and we were all set. If you have someone else in mind you can compare prices with them. We thought they were the best and they have been in business for a long time. We stopped in Nogales and checked out their office and met with them on our way into Mexico. We were very pleased and confident that they were a solid company to do business with. I think you'll enjoy driving down with your own vehicle. You are really limited as to what you can take when you fly and it is a great feeling packing what you need in your own vehicle. Well, I know you'll figure this all out as to what works for you. Hope my suggestions help. We loved our years of Mexican adventures but I can tell you after a few months, home in the USA looked so good. We always came home with a new appreciation for our own country. However, when it began to get cold we couldn't wait to return to Mexico. It is a great place to visit. You will make many friends and you will have many wonderful adventures. I am glad you kept your home and down the road you will be happy that you made that choice. I think you made a wise decision to take some of your work with you. You'll be amazed how much time you'll have on your hands and how little you'll need to do to fill that time. Our computer was our life line and I wouldn't travel without one. This year no Mexico for us. We are heading to Australia. Over the years we have made more than 40 trips into Mexico. So many I have lost count. All were good. Just too much of a good thing. Time for a change. Your turn to enjoy and of course we'll be reading your blogs daily to see how you are doing. If survive the heat you'll survive anything. :)

Anonymous said...

Steve, one thing I forgot. We suspended our American auto insurance for the time we were in Mexico. Then we called our agent when we knew the date we would cross the border and we were once again covered with our own insurance. This did save us money.

ken kushnir said...

Fix your truck and take it down there. At least you will know who has owned it the last 10 years! Used car dealer buy the cheapest crappiest cars to bring over the border then clean them up to look spotless, not a good idea to purchase anything used unless you know the history or the owner. Besides, you will have better luck in having it repaired, being that it is old, not needing the latest computer interface to make any repairs on it.
Don't worry about the registration, there are tons of cars down here that are driving around with no valid US registration and nothing happens except paying a possible "tip" to have it overlooked if you do get stopped. We have had a car down here for over 5 years and have not been stopped except on checkpoints and never have had any question to up to date registration. You do have to have a valid FM3 to show to match the importation decal. That is real important. We have had better treatment of our dogs down here than in the states. The vets seem to be willing to spend more time to discuss and treat your animals then in the states where it has become a "profit center" with vets that we have had years of relationships with!

Steve Cotton said...

Larry L -- Talking to my insurance agent is where all of this started. I asked to put my insurance on hold. The agent told me that a "hold" would cost about $400 for 6 months. This is a premium company, and the hold is about my normal insurance rate. I asked if I could simply cancel my policy for 6 months. He said, of course, but the premium would then increase about 50% because I was unisured for 6 months -- even if I was insured by a Mexican company. I am going to take a look at returning to USAA to see what its overall package would be in the same circumstances.

And thanks for the Exceed tip. There is a Sam's Club in Puerto Vallarta -- a 3 hour drive north of Melaque.

Larry P -- Thanks for the best wishes for Jiggs. He is bugging me right now to get over to the park for a walk. He just may survive.

Nationalizing the truck is a good idea. Two more years and an FM3 is all I need. It (the truck, that is) is in relatively good shape -- only has 55,000 on it. Being a Ford, it is developing some fluid leaks, but that is what cans of oil are for.

Jonna -- I will get the cortisone specifications when I take Jiggs into the vet on Monday. He takes .45 mg. of solaxine each day as his thyroid supplement. I will take you up on your very kind offer.

1st Mate -- I will check with DMV to determine what the official answer is for Oregon. I certainly do not want to reenact the scene you had in Arizona. I thought it would be easy enough to turn off one insurance and turn on the other as I crossed the border. I should have realized it coud not be that easy. And yet, plenty of people seem to do it. My overseas experience in Greece and Britain does not seem to work at all with Mexico.

I will be sorry to miss you on the trip down. But I will be in Melaque for at least six months. Who knows where after that?

Anonymous -- I have been breeding my Escape to be a travel vehile for some time. I bought it in 2001. Other than washing it once the second week I owned it, it has not been cleaned during the last eight years. What was the point? It was my dog car. Sand. Dirt. Hair. Now that Jiggs cannot jump out of it, I do not carry him around in it. So, I could clean it, and I will before I leave. This truck is not going to impress anyone. A thief would probably gag before driving it too far.

I will check with Don Smith Insurance. I am far less worried about price than I am about responsiveness. I have read about enough accidents that having an adjuster and a lawyer on the spot is well worth the few extra dollars spent. Otherwise, what is the inurance worth?

Thank you for the encouragement. I know that some of my list talk sounds a bit neurotic. Maybe it is. But I am straining at the traces to get on my way with my adventure.

Jonna said...

Our dog Chica takes 100mcg of the same thing, here it is called Eutirox (Levotiroxina sódica). I believe it comes in smaller doses but I'll check.

I found Soloxine here, and you can read under the brand name that it is the same ingredient.

One down, I'll check the cortisone when you get the info.

glorv1 said...

I agree with Larry about hoping Jiggs lives long enough to go with you. He looks pretty frisky in the picture, if it's recent. There is one way you can take Mr. Jiggs with you if he happens to leave before the departure date. I hope this doesn't offend you in any way, I'm just thinking of Jiggs always being with you and that is to cremate him if he goes. Chorizo was cremated and she is still here in her home. I'm just expressing how I feel Steve. You really have a lot of people giving you great ideas. Take care.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Jonna. One step out of the way. I will let you know what I find out on Monday. My vet thought I might have some trouble taking prescription vials across the border from the United States. If I can buy what I will need in Mexico -- great.

Gloria -- The photograph of Jiggs is about a year old, but it reflects his attitude these last few days. My dad's ashes sit on my piano in a plain cardboard box. But I take him to church with me each Father's Day. He gets a new tie to wear each year. Jiggs in a box would be every bit as eccentrically sentimental. I suspect I will not need to do that for a while, however.

Michael Dickson said...

Due to the current exchange rate, you can buy many new vehicles in Mexico for about what the same thing costs in the U.S.

However, this likely will not last forever, will it?

I just sold my silver Meriva. Should have offered it to you, señor.

Steve Cotton said...

The silver Meriva may have been a perfect addition. El perro viejo finds it difficult to get in and out of the Escape. He resents the fact that I got rid of the Aurora in 2000.

Larry Lambert said...

Steve - Don't fret too much about the Mexican insurance. Buy it online from somebody like Lewis & Lewis out of California. Be sure to go the few extra bucks to be covered for all of Mexico. Also get the legal assistance option. Having a known agent doesn't help too much. As with any Mexican insurance, if you have an accident you have an 800 number to call. Give them the policy number and they usually have a local adjuster there within 20 minutes or so.

Sorry to hear about your state-side insurance. We have State Farm and it only took a brief email to suspend it while the vehicle is here. If we head north, a phone call reinstates it for the time we're up there.

Larry Lambert

Steve Cotton said...

Larry -- I am going to call USAA, my former insurer, tomorrow. They probably deal with this situation far more often than my current agent -- the daughter of my boss.

I just looked at some Mexican quotes on line. Thanks for the information.

Steve Cotton said...

Ken -- I missed responding to your comment because my eye moved down the page too quickly. I am worried more about driving the truck up north. Of course, if I don't do that, I will not have a problem.

Anonymous said...

Make sure to get your mexican vehicle permit on line before you enter Mexico. This will save a lot of hassle at the border. I also suggest getting your fm3 here in the states, so you will be allowed to take your personal belongings without a hassle at the border. I hope you enter Mexico as a team..Professor Jiggs and his friend.
Bueno Suerte Senor!
Detroit Mich.
P.S. It's good advice to NOT drive at night, and to stay on the toll roads.

Steve Cotton said...

Frank -- Thanks. One thing I learned when I lived in Laredo was that the Mexican night is not a good time to drive.

BoBo's Mom said...

BoBo is keeping her fingers (paws, really) crossed for Jiggs. The humidity and temperature down in Mexico might be good for his hips. What a great way to spend his retirement hanging out on the beach!!

Steve Cotton said...

BoBo's Mom -- All this time I thought BoBo was a boy. Thanks for the kind thoughts. Jiggs has been doing well the last few days -- with one exception. He is having trouble getting up the stairs at night to my bedroom. So, I have been sleeping on the couch in the computer room. It is almost like camping. But my hips are hurting now. Mexico cannot get here fast enough for both of us.

Is Jackson and Jade's Mom on her way back to Manzanillo -- or are the two of you eating your way through the Great Frozen North?