Some dogs fetch, but Scruff the British border collie recycles.
This 13-year-old dog from Nuneaton in central England has picked up a new habit that involves collecting any plastic bottles he comes across on walks with his owners, David Grant and Yvonne Faulkner-Grant.
His humans told The Washington Post that this new and useful version of fetch started after Scruff’s vet warned his owners not to keep throwing sticks to him because they could scratch his mouth.
Because border collies are working dogs who love playing fetch, Scruff soon found a new substitute for the sticks. He’d proudly bring over plastic bottles he found along the street while out for a walk.
Here are some images from Scruff’s finds on Dec. 15.
“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 told The Post.
“We’d praise him and he’d go look for another one, but we started to feel bad about leaving the bottles,” David said. “Even though they weren’t ours to begin with, we thought of it as littering.”
Scruff began fetching bottles towards the end of 2021, so Yvonne and David decided to collect all the bottles and document them to see how many Scruff could find in a year.
Since January 2022, he’s found more than 1,000 bottles that his humans will recycle at the end of 2022. This good boy’s “bottle patrol” drew the attention of the media as well as loyal followers on Facebook where his owners post about his bottle collecting with the hashtag #scruffsbottlepatrol. Online fans have dubbed him the Eco-Dog.
Here’s Scruff proudly holding and playing with one of those bottles on a recent cold winter day.
When Scruff finds a bottle, he will sit by it until either Yvonne or David give him permission to pick it up. He also waits to cross the road until he’s received the command to do so.
His owners don’t plan to stop Scruff’s bottle patrol any time soon, but in 2023 they do plan to recycle the bottles each month rather than stockpiling them as they did this year.
Caroline Round, a neighbor who also walks Scruff on these plastic bottle-hunting trips, marvels at how smart the dog is but also hopes that in 2023, there will be fewer for him to pick up.
“It shows people don’t really care — just don’t chuck things down in the first place,” she told the BBC, sending a message to her fellow Brits.