As I've noted before, the basenjis are not enthusiastic about being walked in the rain (and for that matter, I'm not enthusiastic about walking them in the rain). So when it comes to walking them during a hurricane, unenthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe it. I thought I was done dealing with hurricanes when I left Newport, Rhode Island, but that turns out not to be the case, because Hurrican Sandy is due to make landfall in New Jersey today and crash through the Allegheny Mountains to drench Pittsburgh.
The rain is already here, so I decided to take the dogs to the Riverview Park dog park, which is the most businesslike of our usual haunts. Since my current assignment from the temp agency involves working the 8 AM to 4 PM shift at a candy factory, I get up at six in the morning to give the dogs their first walk of the day. 6:20 found the three of us walking through the still-dark grounds surrounding the Allegheny Observatory. We had circumnavigated the observatory, and were on our way back to the car, with me carrying a plastic shopping bag weighted down slightly with Klea's poop, when Louis' rain-slick leash slipped out of my cold-numbed hand, and he was instantly racing downhill towards the line of trees that marked the really steep part of the hill.
Clutching Klea's leash in one hand and the plastic bag in the other, I raced down the hill after him. Klea was even more anxious to race downhill than I was, and she pulled me off balance, resulting in me falling on my back. I got up, and with Klea still tugging at her leash, I made my way more slowly to the line of trees.
I stood calling for Louis, scanning downhill through the trees for any sign of him. I saw a couple of shapes moving in the night, and recognized them as deer, which explained why Louis had taken off in the first place. One horrible possibility I imagined was Louis chasing the deer through the park all morning, and me missing hours of work while looking for him. An even more horrible possibility was the leash getting caught around a tree and Louis being unable to move, lost from sight.
I slowly paced along the belt of trees, calling and calling, and after an unbearably anxious couple of minutes, I heard a faint jingling coming from my left. I turned, and was just able to make out Louis standing just outside the belt of trees. I walked over, and operating mostly by touch, was able to confirm that he was still in his collar, and that his leash was still attached to it, trailing along the ground underneath him. I got ahold of the leash's handle, and started leading the two dogs back up the hill to the observatory's access road, as happy as a man can be whose feet and back are soaking wet, which turns out to be pretty happy.
"Louis", I said to the basenji, "I'm going to assume that you took care of your business while you were out there, and bring you straight to the car." But I was wrong. Halfway up the hill, Louis paused and did his Looking For Just The Right Place To Poop routine. I still had the plastic shopping bag, and in moments I had cleaned up Louis' poop. We continued up the hill, got into the car, and drove home.