Four-legged friends often play a vital role on family farms and ranches, prompting the American Farm Bureau Federation to launch the Farm Dog of the Year contest several years ago — now a popular feature of the group’s annual convention.
The winner of the 2024 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award is Skippy, owned by Georgia Farm Bureau members Donald and Laura Adams. AFBF, with support from Nestlé Purina PetCare, recognized Skippy, three regional runners-up, and a People’s Choice Pup this weekend at its convention.
“It has been a pleasure partnering with Purina for the sixth annual Farm Dog of the Year contest, providing the public a glimpse of daily life on the farm,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Although farmers and ranchers love what they do, it’s well known that farming can be stressful. Farm dogs can help ease the burden because they often play a dual role as both working dogs and companions to farm families.”
Rounding up livestock and chasing off predators are among farm dogs’ many tasks. The contest celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers as they sustainably produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America.
Skippy, the grand prize winner of the 2024 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award, is a 4-year-old mixed breed with Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Catahoula hound in her lineage. She has been with the Adams for about two years. Working livestock — helping move beef cattle where they need to go — is Skippy’s primary role on the farm.
“Skippy’s a partner, she’s a pet and she helps us with the cattle every day,” Donald Adams said. That assistance was necessary after he was injured on the farm in 2019 — paralyzed from the neck down — and faced a long road to recovery. “Being able to keep the cows and having something for me to live for every day…she has contributed to that immensely,” he said.
Laura Adams sheds more light on the farmer-farm dog connection and what having Skippy means to them: “Skippy and Donald had an instant bond from day one. Getting a farm dog changed our lives.” They received Skippy from P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA, which supports farmers and farm family members with physical, cognitive, or illness-related disabilities.
Purina donated prizes for the contest again this year. This included $5,000 in prize money, a trophy plate, a year’s supply of Pro-Plan dog food and other Purina products for Skippy. The company has been helping dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives through scientifically based nutritional innovations for more than 90 years.
Peoples Choice Pup
More than 100,000 people voted online in the People’s Choice Pup part of the competition. Casper, owned by Georgia Farm Bureau member John Wierwille, was named People’s Choice Pup.
Casper receives a trophy plate and Purina products. A $1,000 cash prize will be directly donated to Atlanta-based LifeLine Animal Project at the request of Wierwille. LifeLine cared for Casper after he was injured by coyotes while protecting his flock of sheep.
Four other dogs were contenders for People’s Choice Pup: runner-up Cinco, owned by Utah members Caleb and Samantha Smith; Trip, owned by Ohio member Loralynn Kadell; Margo, owned by Indiana member Rachel Hyde; and Morgan, owned by Idaho member Megan Stark.
Three regional runners-up in the contest will each receive $1,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and Purina products.
- Cinco, owned by Caleb and Samantha Smith, Utah members (Western region)
- Meg, owned by Michelle Wilfong, West Virginia member (Northeast region)
- Fancy, owned by Miles Bailey, Missouri member (Midwest region)
A panel of judges with expertise in the pet care industry, veterinary medicine and communications reviewed more than 100 nominations to select the 2024 Farm Dog of the Year. Judging criteria included the dog’s helpfulness to the farmer and their family, playfulness and their role in making life better on and off the farm.
Farm Bureau members submitted written responses to questions, photos and video clips to nominate their dogs for Farm Dog of the Year.
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Author: Heidi Crnkovic