GFB News Magazine

Casper: The People’s Pup

by Jennifer Whittaker
Editor, Georgia Farm Bureau News

Posted on March 7, 2024 10:46 AM


Maybe it was Casper’s fluffy, polar bear cuteness and the novelty of having eyes with two different colors. Maybe it was the valor Casper showed in protecting his sheep and then-pregnant mate, Daisy, from multiple coyotes. 

Regardless, Casper, a Great Pyrenees, captured the hearts of America, receiving enough online votes to win him the People’s Choice Pup title. American Farm Bureau coordinates the annual contest supported by Purina.

Owned by Rockdale/DeKalb County Farm Bureau member John Wierwille, Casper received a trophy plate and Purina products. A $1,000 cash prize was donated directly to Atlanta-based LifeLine Animal Project at Wierwille’s request. LifeLine cared for Casper after he was injured by coyotes in November 2022 while guarding his sheep.

                                                                                                                                                              Photo courtesy of John Wierwille

“Thank you to all the folks at the American Farm Bureau Federation and Purina,” Wierwille said in a Facebook post after Casper was announced the winner at the AFBF Convention in January. “Thank you also to everyone who voted for our brave, determined, and goofy livestock protector.”

Casper is one of six livestock guard dogs Wierwille uses to protect the sheep he leases to clients to clean brush and invasive plant species off their property.

Wierwille’s Ewe Can Do It Naturally landscaping business serves clients across Metro Atlanta and cities within three hours of Atlanta. When Wierwille leases his sheep, he often sends at least one dog with the flock to protect it against coyotes, hawks, owls and two-legged thieves. 

The Wierwilles have a small farm in Decatur raising sheep, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.

“Casper is a goofball. He loves other animals. He lets chickens sit on his head, and he’ll walk up to the sheep and just lay his head on their backs,” Wierwille said. 

While he has the gentle, loving disposition Great Pyrenees are known for, Casper is living proof that his breed will turn into ferocious warriors to protect any livestock or family members threatened by predators.

In the wee hours of Nov. 4, 2022, a pack of coyotes threatened to attack sheep Casper and Daisy were guarding near the Wierwilles’ home. Casper took out three coyotes that made it inside the pen and then leapt the 4-foot hog wire fence to pursue the rest of the pack. Daisy, only nine days away from delivering their puppies, stayed with the sheep.

Casper was missing for two days. When he returned home, he was so badly injured Wierwille feared the dog wouldn’t make it. But thanks to multiple surgeries at an emergency vet clinic followed by extensive care for 30 days at LifeLine, Casper made a full recovery. 

“Great Pyrenees are so loyal,” Wierwille said. “I couldn’t do my job without them because I can’t be out with my sheep 24 hours a day, but the dogs can.”