My family includes two retired racing Greyhounds, one of whom enjoys a nightly stroll alongside his next-door neighbor BG (Baby Girl), a yellow Lab.
Typically it’s my husband who accompanies Bennu, our exuberant red fawn Greyhound, on the evening walk, but occasionally I join in. And when I do, I tend to slow things down a bit.
That’s because I, the family’s fastest human walker, am incapable of passing by litter without reaching down to snap it up. Like a bee atop summer flowers, I zigzag from bottle to can to candy wrapper and then jog back to join the family only to initiate the cycle again a little further down the street.
When I score an intact glass bottle, everyone cheers. Finding an unbroken bottle means that I can quickly grab it in one hand rather than having to sweep it up, which is a far more laborious process. But I willingly do it because I don’t want my dog—or anyone else’s beloved pet—to cut a paw pad because we humans are too busy or lazy to stoop and pick (or sweep) something up. In this way, we do our part to keep our community clean.
After reading about Max the Labrador, I’m thinking about introducing a new twist to our family walks. Max, who was rescued by his family from Orphans of the Storm, has learned how to recycle alongside his human family members. He actually fetches recyclable trash and helps his humans collect an enormous volume of litter by week’s end.
Max may not technically be an “old dog,” but he’s not a pup, either. You might even say he’s been around the block a few times, having landed in a shelter before his family adopted him. What I’m getting at, of course, is that you can teach an old dog a new trick.
Like Max, my older brother isn’t what you’d call an “old dog” either, but at the ripe age of 44, he suddenly and without any fanfare implemented a household recycling program. It’s not a comprehensive program by any means (they currently only collect aluminum cans), but it’s a start. A significant start, actually. Moving from a non-recycling household culture to one that recycles indicates a huge shift in how his family views waste and personal impact.
My brother may be late to the recycling party, but his arrival nonetheless illustrates an important life lesson. Max also serves as a teacher in this regard. We should never be paralyzed to start down a new path because the goal seems too unrealistic or we’re too set in our ways to learn something new. The first step begins with whatever is in front of us: a can, perhaps, or a bottle. Easy enough.
Curious about how to recycle common materials in Southern California? Check this out: