Jun 25 2012 By Moira Kerr
Litter collecting labradors Zara and Kyah with owner Anna-May
WALKING the dogs has become a green affair for a family whose pet Labradors are doing their bit for the planet.
Just like the Wombles, Zara and Kyah routinely pick up discarded bottles, cans and papers from forest paths.
The litter-busting sisters, who will be two in August, are gun dogs and have trained since they were puppies to retrieve pheasants at shoots.
But the training has resulted in a quirky habit which means they just can’t resist sniffing out rubbish when they are out for an off-duty walk.
Owner Fiona Woodhouse and her daughter Anna-May, 11, faithfully bag the mounds of litter collected by the dogs on the forest paths near their home at Achacha, near Oban.
Fiona, who runs Lochandubh Kennels, said: “They are exactly like Wombles, clearing up all the rubbish.
“They pick up tin cans, plastic bottles, newspapers – and they have cleared so much from the paths that they are now digging rubbish out that’s buried in the undergrowth.
“They are picking up all the stuff that is not biodegradable, so they really are doing their bit for the planet. I can’t tell them off for doing it because I am training them to retrieve at pheasant shoots.”
The litter collecting started when the dogs were just puppies.
Fiona said: “They used to just dig up stuff and as we were training them to retrieve, if they brought something back you had to praise them.
“but then it became obsessive and they are now hunting through the forest for rubbish.
“It’s not like it’s a dirty forest, you can’t see any rubbish, but you hear that familiar sound of a plastic bottle and you think, ‘oh no’, and there is one of the dogs dragging another bottle out of the ground.”
Fiona has been training dogs for decades but has never come across dogs with a penchant for litter.
She said: “I got my first gun dog in 1980 and I have had this line for seven generations now and I have never before had pups that have done this.”