"It was crazy," says Ali Shekouri, a 32-year-old businessman who pursued three dicey strategies before obtaining a local beagle. "After a while I didn't know if I was buying a dog or dealing in an international drug trade."
When Mr. Shekouri set out to buy a puppy last year, a friend first took him to a small electronics shop in downtown Tehran near the grand bazaar. In actuality, it was a front for a middle-aged man selling dogs. After enduring a one-hour intense interview to make sure he wasn't an undercover cop, Mr. Shekouri was whisked away in a car to the kennel's secret location. During the ride, he says, he was blindfolded.