In a small town in England, Scruff, the Thirteen-year-old Border Collie, has been doing something very unusual on his daily walks. Scruff has begun to carry plastic bottles that he finds around the neighborhood.
“He would see a bottle that somebody had tossed out, and he’d go pick it up, play with it, then drop it and leave it,” Yvonne said. “We’d praise him and he’d go look for another one, but we started to feel bad about leaving the bottles,” David added. “Even though they weren’t ours to begin with, we thought of it as littering.”
The two began carrying a cloth sack with them during their twice-daily walks to collect the bottle Scruff found. They also decided to track how many bottles he found throughout the year and post in on Facebook under the hashtag #scruffsbottlepatrol.
In the first month, January, Scruff found 41 bottles and received plenty of praise from all of their Facebook friends. One man even nicknamed the pooch “Scruffy the Eco Warrior,” and that was soon shortened to “Eco Dog,” Yvonne said.
“We were all amazed at how many bottles he would find — and we were also shocked at how many people were tossing them on the ground,” she said. “Everyone loved that Scruff was helping to clean up our town.”
The totals began to increase as the months went on. February brought in 61. March totaled 110 bottles and a plastic cup. August was a staggering 143. “We think it was related to kids being out of school, but that’s no excuse for littering,” he said. “We’re glad that Scruff enjoys picking them up and can help set an example of how to care for the planet.”
“There are definitely more than 1,000 right now,” David said. “There are very few days when Scruff doesn’t find one.” All of the bottles are recycled by the couple. “Finding plastic bottles is his focus and passion,” added Yvonne. “He’s the kind of dog that needs command, and he feels like he’s pleasing us when he drops another plastic bottle at our feet.”
“He’s always been a really smart and playful dog who loves long walks and games of fetch,” Yvonne noted. “It could be pelting rain and he doesn’t bat an eyelid. He loves to be outdoors.”
“Scruff is an older dog, but he has a lot of energy and is always ready to play,” she said. “Both of us have always enjoyed two long walks with him, morning and night.”
“You get home and you’re tired and Scruff will come up and put a ball in your lap,” David said. “We probably walk five miles a day with him, through the woods and fields near where we live. It’s always a fun adventure to go out with him.”
When Scruff is on the walks and finds a bottle, he will race over to it and wait for permission to pick it up. “And if it’s across the road, he won’t cross unless we tell him to,” David said. “He’s a brilliant dog.”
Scruff was recently featured on the BBC for his feat, but “He hasn’t let the attention go to his head,” Yvonne said. “Lots of people tell us he doesn’t look his age.”
Scruff will continue to retrieve bottles in 2023 with the Grants recycling them at the conclusion of each month.
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