Sunday, January 31, 2010
A Community's True Value is Measured by its People and Their Dogs
Down state our walks have a very predictable pattern – down the street, up the hill, past Notacat's house hoping for a brief encounter that always ends with Notacat racing up and down his fenced domain. Then it is be on to the Dog Park where Chloe' can lose her leash for a brief but thoroughly enjoyable romp in and out of the trees that make up a wooded green space nestled among the stately old homes of our historic neighborhood. Heading home she walks briskly, eager for a glimpse of a new Border collie that has taken up residence in a house on the hill. An invisible fence keeps the pup confined to her yard ¬ and provides some form of sadistic satisfaction for Chloe' as she runs in and out of Sasha’s personal space, taunting the young collie with her ability to roam at will without the fear of electric shock.
These down state walks provide little, if any, opportunity for getting to know the human residents of our neighborhood. Outside of a hello here or a nod there, few take the initiative for sustained conversation. We are rarely detained, despite the fact that we are always open to taking a risk – open to the possibility of a new great adventure. The sad fact is we more often than not return home with no new stories to share, no new adventures to spin into tales to entertain friends and family.
We always head out down Somes Road towards the old quarry knowing that each passing car will make room for Chloe' as she roams without being confined to a leash. Clif Haley can be depended on to stop and share a warning about marauding bears. Phil Perry always nods and waves – this despite the annoyance of having to slow to a crawl as Chloe' meanders too near the center of the road. Tom and Sue McCaskill, Roy and Judy Martin, Nancy Kleiner, Joyce Buckley, Carolyn Haley, and all our other neighbors can be counted on for a wave, a smile and sometimes even a friendly honk of their horn. Ross – along with his dog Chardonnay – never miss a chance to invite us down the lane to check out the blooms in his luscious, exotic gardens.
A similar kind welcome was also echoed by Gert Bailey – but not only did Gert share her beach with its gorgeous views of Potagannissing Bay, she opened up her heart. Each walk since has included a wave or a chat – our conversations encompassing everything from the day's weather to our own personal struggles with health issues.
Chloe' soon trained me to stop at the Yacht Haven office on every walk. Actually, she doesn't always wait for me. She has learned, following the lead of other great marina dogs - Sophie, Cole, Owen, Katie and Finnegan – how to nose open the screen door and search for Connor in anticipation of a dog biscuit or two. Connor is the marina's “dog whisperer”. When I am at Yacht Haven and can't find Chloe' I know that she has headed to the office to get a treat – and to give me a chance to stop and chitchat for a while.
A neighborhood is not defined just by the style of the homes that line the streets or their prices. A neighborhood's real value comes from the people who live there and how they help one another, swap stories, and take the time to share a dog biscuit and become friends. Millard Fuller once said, “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”
Drummond’s Somes Road community can take pride in being truly whole and healthy as evidenced by its people ¬ and their dogs!