Bindi_Sonja_Galley.jpg

Courtesy photo.

Who’s a good dog?

That would be “Bindi,” a 5-year-old Australian shepherd owned by New York Farm Bureau member Sonja Galley. Bindi was named the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year at this year’s American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention. She 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,” explained Galley. “She stays calm even when the calves kick up their heels at her.” Bindi also has a protective instinct, once pushing back a heifer that had pinned Galley into a corner of a pen. And much like their off-farm counterparts in the suburbs, farm dogs bring strong emotional connections to their owners.

“We do a lot of things together, and she’s a big source of joy in my life,” Galley said.

Farm Bureau launched the Farm Dog of the Year contest three years ago, in partnership with Nestle Purina PetCare, recognizing the four-legged farming buddies riding around in pickups all over the nation.

“We’re proud to partner with Purina for the third annual Farm Dog of the Year contest, celebrating hardworking farm and ranch dogs and the role they play in helping farmers and ranchers produce our sustainable food supply,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall in a release. “From rounding up livestock to chasing off predators, a farm dog’s work is never done.”

A panel of experts in veterinary medicine, pet care and communications reviewed the 90 nominations for this year’s contest. 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 responses to a questionnaire, photos and video clips as part of their nomination packages.

Purina donated $5,000 in prize money, a trophy plate, a year’s supply of dog food and other Purina products for Bindi and the Galley family. The company has a 90-year history of using science-backed nutritional innovations for dogs and cats.

“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:

  • “Rayne,” owned by Illinois Farm Bureau member Julie Willis;

  • “Mike,” owned by Montana Farm Bureau member Tim Feddes;

  • “Ajax,” owned by Texas Farm Bureau member Alexis Ender; and

  • “Sawyer,” owned by Massachusetts Farm Bureau member Elizabeth Smith, who was also named “People’s Choice Pup” in a social media contest.

Five other dogs rounded out the top 10 in the overall contest and were contenders for the People’s Choice Pup title, including “Keeper,” owned by Kansas Farm Bureau member Donna Ashcraft.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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