By Bailey Corwine @ByBaileyCorwine
There are many tools, supplies and personality traits common to farmers and ranchers — tractors and other equipment, feed bunks and hay rings, a strong work ethic and a love of the land, just to name a few. But for many farmers and ranchers, there is another essential piece of the day-to-day farm work puzzle: a four-legged farmhand.
On farms and ranches all across the country, farm dogs play a pivotal role in keeping agricultural operations running smoothly, whether the task is moving cattle from one pen to another, keeping sheep safely grouped in a flock or protecting poultry from pesky predators. Farm dogs also provide companionship in what can sometimes be a solitary way of life.
“The dogs are truly part of our family,” said Rhett Crandall, owner of Flint, 2020 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year. “They enrich our lives and make ranching the best job in the world.”
Joe Sheeran, owner of Woody, the 2019 Farm Dog of the Year, agrees. “He’s a working dog, and it’d be hard to run the place without him,” he said.
Anyone who’s ever had a dog can probably identify with Crandall and Sheeran’s sentiments, whether the dog was a seasoned ranch veteran or a pampered couch potato. However, what sets farm dogs apart is their helpfulness, playfulness and the role they play in making life more enjoyable on the farm or ranch.
That role is performed especially well by most recent Farm Dog of the Year winner Bindi, an Australian shepherd who was recognized in January at the American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention.
“We do a lot of things together, and she’s a big source of joy in my life,” Bindi’s owner, Sonja Galley said.
Some dogs, like past Farm Dog of the Year candidate Sweet Baby Jo, can even act as ag ambassadors, traveling to classrooms and other settings to meet people who may not have had previous exposure to agriculture.
“Sweet Baby Jo and I have gone to preschools, elementary schools, libraries and assistive technology [conferences] promoting this new way to use technology,” said Alda Owen, Sweet Baby Jo’s owner. Owen is legally blind and considers her farm dog to be her assistive technology.
In recognition of farming and ranching’s trusted canine partners, from the traveling agriculture ambassador pups to the fearless four-legged guardians, AFBF is proud to partner with Nestlé Purina PetCare to present the Farm Dog of the Year contest.
The grand prize winner – Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year – will win a year’s worth of Purina dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner will be recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year recognition ceremony at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Atlanta in January 2022. Up to four regional runners-up will each win $1,000 in prize money.
Nominations will be accepted through July 2. Visit https://www.fb.org/land/fdoty for eligibility guidelines and submission requirements.
Bailey Corwine is media relations specialist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.