Meet Chewie: The dog who’s the neighborhood garbage man

Chewbacca Villalpando has his head deep into a bag that once held mahi mahi. He found it empty on our neighbor’s lawn. Nicole Villalpando/For America-Statesman

 



April is Earth Month, and while I’m not sure that my 1-year-old German shepherd/retriever mix has any concept of the calendar, Chewie (short for Chewbacca) is a one-dog neighborhood cleanup crew.

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Every morning and night on our walks, he’s looking for something tasty — someone else’s trash — that he can bring home for all of us to enjoy. Of course, the best part for him and for us to watch is the 20 seconds it takes for him to turn whatever he’s found into tiny pieces.

Most dog owners might think this is a disgusting habit. I say Chewie’s helping to clean up the neighborhood, and he’s speeding up the decomposition process.

Chewbacca Villalpando has torn this bag to shreds. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

Just in the past month, Chewie has brought home for us to enjoy:

1 plastic wrapper that once contained mahi mahi

1 empty Styrofoam meat tray

1 dirty diaper

3 fast food bags

6 fast food napkins

7 plastic water bottles

1 plastic sinus rinse bottle

1 2 liter empty bottle of soda

3 old dog toys

In addition other people’s treasures, he’s also quite fond of the Villalpando recycling bin. We’ve quit buying him dog toys because the empty milk jug and paper towel rolls are so much more fun for him and don’t cost us anything.

Once he’s had his way with the recycleables, we just sweep up the mess and recycle the bits. It’s amazing how much more we can fit in the recycling bin once Chewie has compacted it.

Now if only we could train him to sweep up and put everything back in the recycling bin.


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