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.