When I Walk My Dog

The following submission appeared in “We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.” See here for more information about the project.

By: Corallyn Hocaluk

I am a rebel. I, too, hear the stories that portray Newton as unlivable, that crimes are reportedly occurring on every corner. Certainly, Newton’s perception inside and outside the community is bad to say the least. By definition, perception is “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.” Whether something is true or not, perception has a magnetic pull on one’s belief system that can slowly erode the beliefs of others.

My perception of Newton, on the other hand, is quite different. In fact, after living in Newton for 18 years, I find the community to be full of families who are welcoming and making a difference in their own way.

I walk my dog, Duke, around my Newton neighbourhood every day. I notice garbage littered on the sidewalks and greenways. I haven’t seen the people who participate in this activity; nonetheless, it is a shame. Thankfully, there are members of my neighbourhood who care enough to do something about it. In particular, I see two couples who go out regularly in their safety vests and marked garbage bags to clean up the area. Their sacrifice of time and effort is a huge contribution to our neighbourhood. Because of them our neighbourhood is clean and tidy. Kudos to them!

Often, I see a group of men congregating on the corner of a particular house for a prolonged period of time. I have heard some neighbours scoffing at this activity and saying it is an eyesore in the neighbourhood. Although I do not speak the same language as the men, their body language speaks volumes. I recognize the significance that meeting regularly makes in their lives. They laugh together with ease and look relaxed and jovial. I can only perceive that this social activity makes a profound impact on their lives and should be encouraged. Perhaps if everyone had a social circle like this one, we would all be happier.

Lastly, on my walks I pass others with their heads down focused on the ground. I get it. I’ve done it. However, when I make an effort to say hello and smile, people are genuinely open to receive greetings and say hello back. What I have learned is that if you think people are rude, then they are rude back. But if you think people are nice and kind, then they are nice and kind back. You never know what another person is dealing with and what an impact a simple hello or smile can make for someone. Perhaps, by putting in the effort to greet others, they will in turn pass along the greeting to another.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not here professing to be Pollyanna. Of course the community has problems. Every community does. I suggest that perfection is a perception that does not exist. Ask yourself what do you want in your community? What solutions are at your disposal? Look around and take notice in your community. Recognize it and celebrate it!

Be a rebel in your community and don’t allow others to influence your perception. If I pass you by in our neighbourhood I will be sure to say hello!

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