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Lulu the litter-picking dog from Tonbridge springs to stardom

By Rebecca Tuffin

A dog has become a national celebrity for her extraordinary litter-picking talents.

Lulu the sprocker spaniel is now famous in her Tonbridge home and much further afield for keeping parks clean of rubbish.

She sprang to stardom last month, when she received an award from Tonbridge and Malling Council for her contribution to the community.

The clever dog's owner, Gary Longley, said: "The judges thought I was going to be throwing rubbish for her to fetch like a ball but this is not the case at all.

"I direct her to the litter - she knows left, right, back and forward."

Every Sunday, Gary takes Lulu to one of the local parks for a three-hour shift, in which time she can collect up to six black sacks of rubbish.

Rehomed by Gary when she was six months old, the energetic spaniel has appeared on BBC News, in the Daily Mail and has even got her own Blue Peter badge.

"We thought there may be a little bit of press but nothing on this scale.

"My daughter came in and went 'She has gone global!'

Lulu is a two-year-old sprocker spaniel
Lulu is a two-year-old sprocker spaniel

She has been shared on Facebook with people on the other side of the world."

A volunteer at Haysden Country Park and previous Tonbridge and Malling environmental champion, Gary began training Lulu soon after she joined the family.

"When we got her she was the same weight as a bag of sugar.

"If I had not taken her on, she would probably not be alive.

"It was quite hard to train her up. She not only had to learn the directions but also to be very careful of picking up sharp things with her mouth."

Gary, who lives in Camp Hill in Charcott with his wife Lynn, has always loved animals, even working as a shepherd for a short while after finishing school.

Gary Longley trained Lulu to pick up litter in their local park two years ago
Gary Longley trained Lulu to pick up litter in their local park two years ago

Lulu also shares her home with 11-year-old mix-breed Zoro, a wild hedgehog Henrietta that Gary is nursing back to health, and 10 chickens.

Welcoming suggestions of new parks two-year-old Lulu can clean up, Gary said how much she loves working.

"She is always picking up litter whenever we are out and about. Some breeds of dog need to be kept stimulated and she absolutely loves it.

"I hope we are encouraging people to keep the park clean. I will then feel I have done my bit for the community.

"Also, if we have a lovely park it will encourage people to go in to the town and spend money - it generates business."

Read more: All the latest news from Tonbridge

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