Features Walthamstow

The tail wags the dog

In her latest column about life at The Mill community centre, Helen’s dog Busta is barking up the wrong tree Last month my Staffordshire bull terrier […]By Waltham Forest Echo

In her latest column about life at The Mill community centre, Helen’s dog Busta is barking up the wrong tree

Busta, the third-prize-winning dog (credit Connie Bigham)

Last month my Staffordshire bull terrier cross Busta won third prize in the ‘old dog’ category at the Highams Park Dog Show – part of the annual Picnic in the Park event.

Finally, I felt vindicated for the last 12 years of owning him! Busta came with issues and gained a bad name, admittedly in the early days this was not totally undeserved. He’s still not a fan of high-visibility jackets, postmen, window cleaners, white vans, red buses, and jumbo jets.

However, over the years he has grown into a devoted pet, and even has a fan base of willing people to look after him!

Labelling Busta as a ‘dangerous dog’ got me thinking about where I work. The Mill is based in the St James Street ward of Waltham Forest. The area has recently featured a lot in the press with stories focusing on violence and gangs, but that is only one version of the area.

Daily, I experience courtesy, generosity, kindness, and warm friendships with local people. I’ve watched beautiful street art appearing on walls and new businesses being launched with enthusiasm and energy. I’ve enjoyed being part of the recent St James Street Jumble Trail and the Apple Day at The Mill; great community events that get people out of their homes to meet neighbours and get to know each other. Our next event is our annual family Spooktacular Halloween on Sunday 28th October.

Busta is part of my family; he’s acknowledged, included and valued. I’ve made a commitment to not give up on him when it would’ve been easier to hand him back to the rescue centre. Sometimes it’s hard to enjoy him after he’s misbehaved, but I’ve learnt to spot potential incidents. His bark is worse than his bite, but it is a ferocious bark, so I put him in the kitchen before opening the front door – relief to any courier!

What you put into a place or a pet will affect what you get back. Socrates stated: “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.” I strive to be the person that Busta thinks I am and in return I’ve been given unconditional love. Likewise, watching The Mill develop, providing a welcoming place for people to feel secure, shows that the community can only grow from within.

If you make the effort, what you receive can be unlimited.

For more information: Visit themille17.org