By long custom, the basenjis know that the afternoon dog walk is long, slow, and leisurely: I amble along and enjoy the sun, while the dogs cast about looking for Unidentified Ground Objects. The afternoon dog walk typically takes one or two hours.
By equally long custom, the other two daily dog walks -- in the evening before I prepare for work, and in the morning after I return from work -- are different. There's not enough time for a long walk, so instead we all pile into the car and drive to the local no-leash dog park. There, the basenjis can sniff around unencumbered, and get to know any other dogs that happen to be around, before getting down to the serious business of doing their business. A trip to the dog park usually only lasts about ten minutes.
Back in Newport, the municipal dog park was a brief five-minute drive away. When I learned about the move to McKees Rocks, I went a-Googling, and found the nearest dog park fifteen minutes away at Riverview Park, across the mighty Ohio. There, atop Observatory Hill, the dog park sits beside the Allegheny Observatory.
Tonight, unusually, instead of making their standard inspection of the grounds of the small dog park, the dogs seemed intrigued by something out in the dark, beyond the park's chain-link fence. Louis in particular was fascinated, staring out into the darkness at I-knew-not-what. After about five minutes of this, Louis finally gave up his staring contest with whatever-it-was, and took care of business. I wondered what it was all about. Was there another dog hidden in the darkness? A skunk? Who could say?
We got back into the car, and started making our way down Old Barn Road, the much-patched single-lane road that leads up to the observatory. Looming in the headlights on our right, I saw three deer munching on the observatory's back lawn. After slowly passing them by (with the basenjis' attention rivited), another hundred yards down the road brought another set of three deer into the headlights. I stopped and waited for them to move away from the road (with the basenjis staring avidly), then continued on my way.