Recognizing that work on the family farm takes everyone pitching in and doing their part, including four-legged friends, Farm Bureau launched the Farm Dog of the Year contest three years ago.
The winner of the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award is Bindi, an Australian shepherd owned by New York Farm Bureau member Sonja Galley. The American Farm Bureau Federation, with support from Nestlé Purina PetCare, recognized Bindi, four regional runners-up and a People’s Choice Pup at the American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention.
The contest celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers to produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America. The contest is popular with farmers and the general public alike, reaching nearly 400,000 users on social media through People’s Choice Pup.
Bindi, the grand prize winner of the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award, is five years old and has been part of the family dairy farm since she was a puppy.
“Bindi is especially good at working in tight spaces to help move animals around the farm. She stays calm even when the calves kick up their heels at her,” Sonja explained. Bindi’s also very protective, and once pushed back a heifer (young cow) that had pinned Sonja in the corner of a pen.
Much like their non-farming counterparts, farmers often benefit from a strong emotional connection with their dogs. “We do a lot of things together, and she’s a big source of joy in my life,” Sonja said about Bindi.
Purina donated prizes for the contest again this year. This included $5,000 in prize money, a trophy plate, a year’s supply of dog food and other Purina products for Bindi.
“The Farm Dog of the Year contest embodies Purina’s belief that people and pets are better together, and we are proud to help recognize the Galleys, Bindi and all of the great farm dogs across the U.S.,” said Jack Scott, vice president of sustainability at Purina. “Purina has a long history of sourcing nutritious ingredients from American farms to make our high-quality pet foods. We salute farmers and the important work they do to steward their land and help feed generations of people and pets, with the help of their amazing dogs who help enrich lives on and off the farm.”
Four regional runners-up in the contest will each also receive $1,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and Purina products. They are:
- Rayne, owned by Illinois Farm Bureau member Julie Willis, from the Midwest region;
- Sawyer, owned by Massachusetts Farm Bureau member Elizabeth Smith, from the Northeast region;
- Mike, owned by Montana Farm Bureau member Tim Feddes, from the Western region; and
- Ajax, owned by Texas Farm Bureau member Alexis Ender, from the Southern region.
A panel of judges with expertise in the pet care industry, veterinary medicine and communications reviewed 90 nominations to select the 2021 Farm Dog of the Year.
Judging criteria included the dog’s helpfulness to the farmer and his/her 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.
People’s Choice Pup
Runner-up Sawyer was also named People’s Choice Pup in a social media contest with online voting as part of the overall competition. Sawyer won bragging rights, a year’s supply of dog food, and other Purina products.
Five other dogs rounded out the top 10 in the overall Farm Dog of the Year contest and were contenders for People’s Choice Pup: Jade, owned by California Farm Bureau member Lindsey Swall; Cash, owned by Idaho Farm Bureau member Carol Gerken; Keeper, owned by Kansas Farm Bureau member Donna Ashcraft; Pepper, owned by Tennessee Farm Bureau members Tom and Stephanie Barnett; and Dasher, owned by Virginia Farm Bureau member Sandy Riepe.
Learn more about the contest here.