When Max the Labrador became bored with learning the usual tricks, his owner, Keith Sanderson, taught his dog a truly useful skill: retrieving recyclables that littered the streets of Deerfield, Illinois.
One day Sanderson noticed that Max wasn’t as thrilled to play fetch as he used to be.
“I thought, ‘Gee maybe we could do something else?’” Sanderson said. “He’s wired to be a retriever, so why not make him be a retriever?”
But there isn’t a lot of game to hunt in Sanderson’s urban neighborhood, so he had to get creative. He began to train Max to fetch plastic bottles instead of tennis balls. Not long after, Max was adept at seeking out and retrieving cans and bottles. Now they pick up trash every day on their walks.
“The old trite saying that every litter bit hurts is really true,” Sanderson said. “We have a 40-gallon [recycling] can full of cans and bottles that it took us less than a week to fill.”
Sanderson and his wife adopted Max from Orphans of the Storm animal shelter when he was a 6-month-old pup.
“Part of this recycling is that Max is recycled,” Sanderson explained. “So recycling is sort of a theme with him — to remind people, let’s not throw away things when there’s a lot of use left in them.”
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