Clever recycling dog is helping clear the streets of litter by collecting plastic bottles during walkies

A clever recycling dog is helping clear the streets of litter by collecting hundreds of plastic bottles during his daily walks.

Scruff, a 13-year-old border collie, has been amazing local residents who have dubbed him the 'eco dog' as he does his bit for the environment in Nuneaton, Warks.

The intelligent pooch loves nothing more than picking up plastic bottles during a walk and his owners soon realised they could turn his playful antics into a positive.

So David Grant, 48, and wife Yvonne Faulkner-Grant, 47, began carrying a bag to put his collections into to take along to a recycling centre.

Scruff started by scooping up 40 bottles during his first month in January and has now retrieved more than 1,000 over the past year.

David and Yvonne first noticed their litter-picking hound had a fascination for plastic bottles about a year go but would drop them when he found the next one.

Yvonne said: "It seemed wrong that he would pick the bottle up and then drop it again - we thought people would think we were dropping litter.

"So we got him to start bringing the bottles to us and we put them in a bag and then count them up at the end of the walk.

""Now, he will see one on the other side of the road and look at me as if to say 'Can I get it?'

"I'd say he will have collected at a least 1,000 this year. We get such a good reaction on Facebook where Scruff has been dubbed an eco-dog."

Yvonne, an Aldi warehouse deputy team leader, first bought Scruff home in December 2009 after buying him from a farm in Wales.

As a puppy, Scruff enjoyed picking up sticks but Yvonne discouraged him amid fears of mouth splinters before he went on to find a penchant for plastic bottles instead.

After meeting David in 2018 through her running club, the pair now take Scruff on two five mile walks each day.

Over the last year, the couple have been sharing their pet's green credentials on social media using the #scruffsbottlepatrol hashtag.

Dad-of-two David said: “People have said he should be working for the council, and everybody loves it when they see him in the street.

“He is such an obedient dog and very friendly – your typical sheep dog.

“He never chews the bottles or the lids he just wants to play.

“When we go on walks, he always picks up plastic bottles and likes to play with them.

“Scruff will pick them up and want you to play with it with him and then he will drop it when he is done.

“We were worried that people thought we were littering when Scruff dropped them after he had finished playing with them so we started to pick them up and take them home.

“This is how the recycling started. Scruff will pick up the plastic bottles and then when he becomes uninterested in them we put them in our bag.

“We are currently storing them at the side of the shed in the garden to do a big count at the end of the year.

“I think he just wanted the interaction with the bottles so he could play and interact with us at first.

“Now, he seems to go out looking for them now on walks.”

At the end of December, Yvonne and David are going to lay out all the bottles Scruff has collected to find out the total.

In the new year, Scruff will continue to litter-pick on his walks, but the couple have said they will recycle the bottles every month instead.

David, a manufacturing operator for an aerospace firm, added: “We started sharing his collections on social media but we did not realise how many bottles he would collect.

“Sometimes he collects 15 and sometimes it’s only one - it depends how dirty the streets are that day.

“Someone said to me the other day that not all heroes where capes and that is exactly what I think Scruff is doing – being a hero.

“We think he is setting an example to everyone that we need to start looking after our planet.

“If a dog can do it anyone can."

Neighbour and friend Caroline Round, who also gets to walk Scruff, says he will not go past a bottle without picking it up.

She added: "He's so intelligent. He will always stop on his walk and won't move on until he's picked it up.

"If you're in a field with him, he will be off the lead and away. And, when he comes back he will always have a bottle in his mouth."