Where to start?
Reader's Digest version - I got the bird home. Came close to having to give him up in Canada or stay there indefinitely waiting for the U.S. government to pull its ginormous head out of its even larger ass.
The morning we were ready to drive south I called Slow Suzy in Virginia. After her last brain cell finally woke up and churned the data, she told me my permits would likely be denied. The best reason she could muster? Because I never had the proper Export Permit.
So, even though I was trying to obtain the proper permits, because I never had one last year, they were going to deny them. Just thinking about that tells you everything that's wrong in D.C.
I explained that we could not stay behind for too long to wait for the permits - new tenants were moving in the following week. She was nonplussed about why I could not leave without my bird. She helpfully informed me that there are many bird rescue organizations in BC that would take him off my hands.
In hysterics, I pleaded with her to talk to whoever she could talk to to find a way to solve this problem. The best she could offer was to have me call her back the next day, but she didn't think the answer would be any different.
After a brief respite in the fetal position on the floor, I pulled myself together and called the U.S. Fish & Wildlife officer at the border - Border Guy. I'd been talking to him since the start of all this bullshit and I told him what I'd learned from D.C. I hoped he could call Slow Suzy and find a way to let me get my bird home.
Border Guy is all by-the-book, explaining that he takes his orders from D.C., but he said I could call his supervisor and see if there might be anything he could do. I was still a blubbering mess so I took five minutes to grab a shower and calm down.
Just as I was drying off I heard my phone's voicemail tone. I'd just missed Border Guy's call. His message said that he'd talked to his supervisor and I should call him back so he could explain the situation. Good news or bad news? What's the situation! Gah!
I called him and heard the best news of my life. Because my permits had not yet been officially denied, they could write me a citation for illegally exporting my bird. Had those permits already been denied, there wouldn't be anything they could do. I laughed and told him I would *love* a citation!
We packed our cars in a crazed panic and sped down to the border with our hair on fire. After clearing the CITES Export Permit on the Canadian side, Border Guy and the vet on the U.S. side filled out their forms, charged me $35 for the vet and wrote me a $275 citation. I was on my way in about an hour with my feathery & furry family totally intact.
I drove the entire way to my parents' house in Bend without the radio. No tunes, no nothing. Just silence. Eight hours of uninterrupted silence. I don't remember what all I thought about, but I thought about a lot. I think I traveled to another dimension.
The next day I turned off the Canadian cell phone. If D.C. has tried to reach me, they're not. I have my stamped, official documents clearing Henry through customs, so Slow Suzy and the entire Department of the Interior can blow me.