Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wandering Woo

Our younger basenji Louis, whom my wife has nicknamed Woo, has the happy habit of going out into the backyard of our new house, no matter the weather, and doing his business, thereby freeing me of the need to take him out for a walk. This is basically a stop-gap measure; at least two other times a day he and his big sister/niece Klea either go for a walk through the streets of McKees Rocks, or visit the dog park in Riverview Park.

Yesterday afternoon, I let Woo out the back door, and he sniffed around the backyard for a bit before making his way down the alley to the front "yard" (actually a small area of mulch between the house and the street). He occasionally does this; when he does, I just go through the house, open the front door, and let him in there.

I did so now, and was a bit puzzled when I saw that he wasn't in the front yard, either. My puzzlement turned to fear when I noticed that the gate in our chainlink fence was hanging open. Obviously, the mailman must have neglected to close it when he delivered our mail that day.

I ran out to the street, and yes, there was Woo, sniffing at some Unidentified Ground Object about fifty feet away. Basenjis are known for their fearless nature, and one of the many things they don't fear are speeding cars. The chief cause of death among basenjis is being hit by passing cars.

I ran back into the house and grabbed my coat and Woo's leash, then hurried back out and looked around again. He had wandered further up the street. I did not run after him. If you run after a basenji, he assumes it's playtime, and he'll start running himself, and basenjis are fast runners even by canine standards. Instead, I walked towards him, calling his name from time to time.

Woo did not run away, but he didn't come when I called either. Instead, he continued his leisurely stroll along the street, and I followed at a walk. He ambled onto Camp Street, wandered its length, then turned onto Raymond Street. I was encouraged when he turned aside onto Fruit Way, since that street led back to our house.

I finally got lucky on Fruit Way, when Woo was distracted by something-or-other on a grassy verge running next to the street. As he was sniffing at it, I was able to quietly walk up to him and snap the leash onto his collar. From then on, we had a normal walk back to our house.

I've also learned a valuable lesson: no more letting the dogs out the back door until I've checked that the gate is closed.

UPDATE 1/17/12: The mailman left the gate open again today; fortunately, there were no dogs outside at the time. It looks as though I'm going to have to get one of those KEEP GATE CLOSED signs.


DaveMB said...

Glad it worked out ok. I have a cairn terrier who can't be trusted off leash (unlike my other dog, a golden, who is allowed to run wolflike through the forest). We also have a backyard with a locking fence, and a couple times Duncan has discovered it open when he's let into the backyard, and taken off to the neighbors. Fortunately we and our across-the-street neighbor are surrounded by forest, with a very quiet road between.

The first time Duncan escaped my wife finally hit on the idea of letting the golden loose, and she soon brought Duncan back. The second time was more like your situation, where I could follow Duncan until he stopped for long enough.

Duncan has also gotten loose in the more suburban area we live in the summer -- fortunately his preferred direction to run doesn't cross any streets. We have been lucky, but the preferred solution is clearly not to let him loose.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

If you run after a basenji, he assumes it's playtime, and he'll start running himself

If you ran off at an angle, do you think he'd run after you? Do they like horseplay?

Johnny Pez said...

Dave, our might-have-been house in Allentown sounds like yours, lots of surrounding woods, but I still would have been nervous letting the basenjis roam free through it, because the woods end in a fairly busy road. Also, too, would the basenjis always come back? I wouldn't count on it.

B^4, if I ran off at an angle, I'm pretty sure Woo would just ignore me and continue wandering along, sniffing at roadside litter. Basenjis are too dignified for horseplay (though not, unfortunately, for scavenging through garbage).