It's hot and muggy here in western Pennsylvania -- too hot and muggy to take the dogs out for a long afternoon walk. The answer: take them out for a brief afternoon walk, and save the long walk for after sunset (which occurs around 9:00 PM here on the day of the summer soltice).
It was still in the upper 70s when I harnessed and leashed the basenjis around 10 at night. It was the night before trash pickup, so the sidewalks of McKees Rocks were decorated with plastic garbage cans, heaps of garbage bags, and the occasional fifty-five gallon drum. The dogs and I made our way slowly up the steep slope of Churchill Street in the still-humid night. Street lights are few and far between at the summit of the hill on the ironically named Palace Way. The dogs and I made our way down the dark street, with the occasional lit window showing on the suburban houses on either side.
There was nobody else around as the dogs wandered back and forth down Palace Way, pausing to sniff here and there where the sidewalk or lawn presented a particularly interesting olfactory picture. We turned left onto the equally poorly-lit Fairoaks Street. We were still alone, apart from the occasional passing car. Off to the east, the sky glowed as the hazy air was lit by the lights of downtown Pittsburgh.
Passing down Railroad Street, it was much the same as Fairoaks Street: deserted apart from the basenjis and myself. We turned left onto Brown Street, then left again onto Gray Street. Here, in the Meyers Ridge development, we saw people gathered together on their porches, talking together and listening to music. On Ridge Way, as the basenjis were sniffing at a patch of ground, I heard someone call out, "Hey, you with the dogs! Come over here!"
It was hard to make out in the darkness, but eventually I saw where the voice was coming from. There were three women sitting around a table next to one of the houses. The one who had called out to me said, "Those are the dogs that don't bark, aren't they?"
I said that they were, and the woman told me we had met during one of our earlier walks. I talked with the three women while the basenjis sniffed around, and every now and then a child would walk over and ask if they could pet the dogs. I said they could, since the basenjis are always happy to get attention. One of the women asked if I had just moved into the neighborhood, and I explained that I had been living nearby for eight months, and that the dogs and I enjoyed going on long walks. After a time, the woman who had called me over thanked me for stopping by, and we resumed our walk.