The friendliness of the residents, the decorations that line the neighborhood streets during the holidays and the cozy, small-town vibe of the Village are all things Dianna Buck cherishes about Toluca Lake. That’s why, since moving to the area over a decade ago when she married her husband, Buck has dedicated herself to giving back to the community that has given her so much in return.
“I love my community, and I get a lot out of it, so I feel it’s important to give back — it needs to be a two-way street,” Buck says. “I feel very involved with the neighborhood because I know my neighbors and care about them and our community. Toluca Lake is a small village in a big city, and that is special and worth preserving.”
For several years, Buck has helped organize the Toluca Lake Turkey Trot, a 5K run/walk hosted by the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association (TLHOA) that helps raise money for Toluca Lake Beautification Partners and the East Valley Police Activity League Supporters (NoHo PALS). When COVID-19 nearly canceled the event in 2020, TLHOA got creative to ensure that valuable funds could still be raised for these two important community organizations. The group set up a virtual run, which tasked participants with completing two runs, walks or jogs of 1 to 3.1 miles (5K) between November 20 and 29.
“Taking part in the Turkey Trot is not only a great way to meet other community members and their families, but it’s also a perfect way to contribute to a good cause,” she explains. As a member of the TLHOA board of directors, Buck says being an integral part of the association has helped her “better understand the history of our neighborhood and the challenges we face.”
Those challenges, Buck explains, can range from airport noise to new construction taking place with too few parking spaces available. “If we want to keep our small-time village feel, we need our stakeholders’ voices heard,” she says. “I’ve also worked directly with FilmLA regarding shooting in Toluca Lake and have volunteered at the Holiday Open House on Riverside.”
But it’s not just the people of Toluca Lake who benefit from Buck’s dedicated time and energy. “I started one of the first dog-walking businesses in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago and naturally transitioned into training dogs after that,” she explains. “It took a lot of studying and work with other experienced trainers before I was ready to make the move on my own. Even now, my education continues as behavior science constantly evolves.”
As a professional dog trainer and owner of Buck Dogs, Buck’s day-to-day role includes “educating new dog owners to help keep dogs in their forever homes,” she says. “I focus on what it is you would rather have your dog doing and then training that. When we teach that preferred behavior, we have a dog that is thinking and learning rather than just reacting. Hence, a happier dog and human. I find it very joyful and rewarding to be able to help set families up for long-term success. This is where I can be the most effective in giving back to the wider community.”
Through giving back and helping others, Buck has certainly made a long-term impact on Toluca Lake. For those looking to follow in her footsteps and get involved, Buck says, “Go to a Neighborhood Council meeting or the annual TLHOA meeting and say hi to your neighbor. It’s important to have a voice and speak up.”