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.


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.

Austin has third-highest rate of pet ownership in U.S., survey says

Austin has the third-highest percentage of households with pets out of major United States metro areas, according to new data from the American Housing Survey.


According to the survey results, 48.4 percent of households have pets in the average American metro area. However, Tucson, Ariz. had the highest rate of pet ownership, with close to 60 percent of households with at least one pet. Oklahoma City was second, and Austin was third, with just over 50 percent of households containing pets. Other Texas cities on the list included San Antonio at No. 4 and Houston at No. 13.

Where are the Animal Companions?

Pets of the Week: Adopt these cats and dogs from Texas Humane Heroes

If you’re looking for a new furry friend, these are the Pets of the Week from Texas Humane Heroes in Leander. You can visit their website to search for more available pets and learn more about the Pets of the Week, or visit their facilities in Leander and Killeen.


Martin is a two-year-old mixed breed dog.


Weckle is a one-year-old hound mix.



Lana is a small mixed-breed one-year-old dog.

Pumpkin Pie