These canines and their pet parents have set out on a mission to make the world a cleaner place, and one bit of trash at a moment, they’re making a difference. Joy and Bas, the Labrador retrievers and heroes behind Enjoy Cleaning Up, are based in the Netherlands. Alex van Eck, the nonprofit’s founder, and dog dad tell Daily Paws that the idea for the organization originated when he spotted all the rubbish left behind by beachgoers during a family vacation. He decided to do something about the litter.
Van Eck started picking up trash on his walks with his dog Joy and even taught her to look for and retrieve plastic bottles on her own. When she got the hang of it, the two started looking for cans and boxes of drinks. Finding litter on their travels rapidly became more than a hobby for them; they began collecting everything they discovered in a canine backpack and then recycling everything they found.
According to Van Eck, the concept for forming an official organization arose from a desire to urge others to make a difference in their communities with their dogs. He claims that bringing your dog along to pick up litter makes it a joyful pastime rather than a gloomy one, because discovering all the junk people leave behind may be a pain.
“When you clean up by yourself without a dog, it feels a little lonely, like strolling alone.” However, he claims that cleaning up with your dog may be enjoyable for both humans and dogs. Their objective is to show others that making a difference in your community can be fun—especially when you’re working alongside man’s best buddy!
Joy has a “laid-back” disposition, according to Van Eck, and their work cleaning up the environment gives her a sense of importance. “You can see in the dog that when she finds anything, she’s more joyful, she’s higher on her own feet, and she’s smiling more and more.”
Teaching your dog positive reinforcement activities, such as how to sit, shake, play fetch, and even retrieve plastic bottles, can be a terrific way to intellectually and physically exercise your pooch.
Joy couldn’t complete the project alone, van Eck discovered as the twosome handled more and more cleanup jobs. They added a black lab named Bas to their crew, who van Eck described as “totally all over the place.” After his original owners were no longer able to care for the dog, he was surrendered to the vet clinic where his wife works. “‘Can we take care of this puppy for a couple of weeks?’ my wife inquired. I agreed, but only for a couple of weeks. There is no need to be concerned.”
After only a few hours with Bas, it was evident that he was going to stay. The dog quickly learned to carry his weight within the company and to look for and retrieve tin cans (Joy specializes in plastic bottles). Both play important roles in the NGO and have inspired other dogs and their owners all across the world.
Van Eck gives some ideas for teaching your dog to find and recover items like plastic bottles on his website if you’d like to join the Enjoy Cleaning Up squad with your four-legged environmental hero. He recommends that you train your dog to only look for one type of item, such as plastic bottles so that they can concentrate on finding it (like Joy does). Begin training them by placing a high-value treat inside the bottle (van Eck uses a little piece of bologna). As soon as the snack is placed inside the bottle, make sure they can see and smell it, then toss it. Offer the treat from inside the container as a reward after they successfully retrieve the object to reinforce the desired behavior.
This environmental dream squad has spread their good deeds all across the world since they first started picking up rubbish. Over 500 dog owners from 12 countries have signed up to be community heroes by picking up garbage in their neighborhoods. Major props to van Eck for putting his concept into action and inspiring others to leash up and make the world a better place, as well as to doggie do-gooders Joy and Bas. What a case of paw-sitivity!