Meet Scruff, the litter-picking eco-dog who loves to clean up his local park

Scruff the eco dog - Joseph Walshe/SWNS
Scruff the eco dog - Joseph Walshe/SWNS

Even for the most environmentally conscious, coping with the growing mound of waste most households produce can be a daunting and dispiriting task.

But David Grant and his wife Yvonne Faulkner-Grant have found an answer to the mountains of plastic detritus left behind by modern consumers.

Step forward Scruff, a border collie with a knack for recycling.

Their 13-year-old pet has taken to picking up any discarded plastic bottle he sees on his daily walks around Nuneaton, retrieving more than 1,000 over the course of the past year.

The couple noticed Scruff’s special ability when he began to turn his attention from twigs and branches to the empty plastic bottles littering the road.

He would pick one up in his mouth, but then drop it when his eye caught another one for him to retrieve.

The couple hit on the idea of putting each one he picked up and dropped again into a bag, with the idea of eventually taking them along to their local recycling centre.

Scruff - Joseph Walshe / SWNS
Scruff - Joseph Walshe / SWNS

Mrs Faulkner-Grant, 47, said: "It seemed wrong that he would pick the bottle up and then drop it again. 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?.’”

Mrs Faulkner-Grant, an Aldi warehouse deputy team leader, first bought Scruff home in Dec 2009 after buying him from a farm in Wales.

She met Mr Grant in 2018 through her running club and the couple were soon taking Scruff on two five-mile long walks each day.

"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,” she said.

Mr Grant, 48, added: “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. When we go on walks, he always picks up plastic bottles and likes to play with them. He never chews the bottles or the lids.

"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.

"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 on walks."

The couple are currently storing all the bottles Scruff has collected in order to count up the grand total at the end of the year. Next year, they will take his haul to the recycling centre in monthly batches.

Scruff - Joseph Walshe / SWNS
Scruff - Joseph Walshe / SWNS

The couple have also been sharing their pet's green credentials on social media using the #scruffsbottlepatrol hashtag.

Mr Grant, a manufacturing operator for an aerospace firm, added: "We didn’t 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 wear 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."