Having evolved from a hard-to-place rescue to an agility champion and working farm dog, Dasher is one of 10 dogs across the U.S. competing in the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Contest sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The public is encouraged to vote for their favorite farm dog on social media by Dec. 18 to select the People’s Choice Pup. Likes on dogs’ photos will be counted as votes. The winner will be announced during the AFBF virtual convention in January.
“My first meeting was not that great with him,” admitted owner and Charlotte County Farm Bureau member Sandy Riepe. Dasher growled and jumped on Riepe when she first met the 3-year-old border collie at his foster home. “He had a lot of energy, and he really needed a job.”
Despite a rocky start in life, he found his place, and “he’s a happy dog,” Riepe said. Because he’s still energetic at 11, “farm life is just perfect for him.” Dasher helps herd cattle on Riepe’s farm in Charlotte Court House. Without any formal herding training, his strong instincts help get cattle where they need to go.
“What he does is natural. There have been times when the calves got out and were in a briar patch,” Riepe said. “He and the other border collie went in, got the calves out and brought them back through the gate and back into the pasture.”
When he’s not working, Dasher competes in agility trials and has won multiple awards. He’s also helped train Riepe’s border collie puppy.
“He’s kind of teaching her things—helping her get familiar with the farm animals—he’s sort of the puppy’s mentor,” she said. “He likes to be around other dogs, and he has a lot of fun.”
“He can boost your spirits because he’s happy,” Riepe added. “He’s been perfect for me.”
This is the third year the AFBF competition is celebrating dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers. “Even in these uncertain times, farm and ranch work doesn’t stop, and farmers count on farm dogs to be right there to face these challenges together,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
The contest is sponsored by Purina, and the grand prize is a year’s supply of Purina dry dog food, Purina products and $5,000 in prize money. Up to four runners-up will win Purina products and $1,000 in prize money. The People’s Choice Pup will receive bragging rights, a $50 gift card and Purina products.