Not long after Katie Pollak adopted Chipper in Mesa, Arizona, the puppy showed an interest in bettering the environment. Actually, he just liked playing with plastic bottles when he found them on walks.
"He was always eager to pick them up!" Pollack tells MNN. "Because of his interest, I began encouraging and rewarding his ability to pick up and carry water bottles. I would celebrate and give him treats each time he would offer to pick up a bottle. Then it stuck, and became our thing!"
Now 8 years old, Chipper has developed a passion for the outdoors and for picking up trash. He, Pollak and her other pup, Quinci, are often found in nature.
"We go out a few times a week. Sometimes we go out with the intention of cleaning up an area," she says. "Other times we're just out for a hike or paddle, but always carrying bags with us to clean up any trash we come across."
Pollak and her dogs often meet up with friends to do organized cleanups in the area.
Chipper has become a bit of a celebrity for his recycling efforts. He's well known in the community, and more than 31,000 people follow Pollak on Instagram to keep track of his adventures. The pair recently even made an appearance on the "Today" show.
Chipper doesn't limit himself to plastic bottles. He picks up whatever trash he finds, including cans, discarded clothes and the occasional old shoe.
Pollak says Chipper's interest has sparked her own.
"I am very passionate about the environment and wildlife. I believe it is our responsibility to protect it, to keep it safe and preserved for future generations," she says. "I love that Chipper has inspired me, to put even more of a focus on this issue. We do our best to spread the word and encourage others to at least take notice of the problem, so we can all work together to over come it."
Chipper — who Pollak describes as "a mixed breed with a pure heart" — always has his buddy Quinci along for moral support.
The recycling pup seems to enjoy the spotlight.
"Chipper is handling fame much better than I am!" Pollak says. "He loves the attention that comes with it."