Like many dogs, Scruff loves to play with plastic bottles.
David Grant and Yvonne Faulkner-Grant of Warwickshire, England always let their 13-year-old border collie, Scruff, pick up the plastic bottles he finds while out on their daily walks. The dog carries the bottle for a while, and they kick it or toss it for him to chase. The game is over when Scruff loses interest and drops it.
Throughout 2021, David and Yvonne observed Scruff’s habit of finding even the most well-hidden bottles. They also noticed a marked increase in the amount of litter in their rural area. David says they were both taught never to drop their trash as children, so they couldn’t believe that people were littering so much.
At the start of 2022, David and Yvonne decided to start picking up the bottles to bring home with them.
It was the sheer volume of litter that made them decide to essentially train Scruff to gather other people’s trash.
“When he’d pick one up in 2021, carry it awhile and then put it back down, it seemed wrong that we’d leave it because it wasn’t our litter,” said Yvonne. “So yeah, we started bringing it home and then said that we’d keep them for the year and then count them up.”
Since starting this journey, Scruff has become a bit of a local celebrity in his neighborhood.
“A lot of people say he’s so cute when he’s walking along, and a lot of people say he should be employed by the council, and now everybody says they just love Scruff!” David said.
David and Yvonne never let Scruff pick up anything dangerous, like glass or aluminum cans. They also remain appalled by the volume of litter they’re seeing, and hope that people will hear Scruff’s story and either stop dropping trash or, perhaps, try picking it up themselves.
Plus, Yvonne thinks Scruff took to his duties so well, other dogs could easily be trained to do what he does as well.
“If we walk the same route everyday, he will find bottles on that route every single day,” marveled David.
“We feel a bit of pride that we are picking them up, but a bit of anger that they’re even there,” Yvonne agreed.
Still, rallying up the final total was quite exciting. In the end, Scruff was able to gather up 1,334 bottles — along with three cups, a Pringles tub, and a baby feeding bottle.
“Amazing and upsetting at the same time,” David wrote. “To think this would still be on the streets is shocking. Well done Scruff, we are so proud of you.”
And so are we! Picking up litter while walking is certainly a healthy habit many of us could add to our lives. Thanks for the encouragement, Scruff!
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