GFB News Magazine

Skippy fetches national farm dog award

by Jay Stone
News Reporter

Posted on March 7, 2024 11:50 AM

Skippy, a four-year-old mixed breed with Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Catahoula hound in her lineage, wagged away with the top prize in the 2024 American Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Contest. 

Owned by McDuffie County Farm Bureau members Don and Laura Adams, Skippy was announced as the winner at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Convention in January.

“I didn’t expect anything [when we entered], and when they called with the Top 10 [dogs in the contest], we were floored,” Laura said. “I was happy to be in the Top 10. I certainly didn’t expect to win it.”

Skippy, a herding dog owned by Donald and Laura Adams of McDuffie County, is the 2024 Farm Dog of the Year./Photo courtesy of AFBF & Big Foot Media

Four-legged friends play a vital role on family farms and ranches, prompting AFBF to launch the Farm Dog of the Year contest in 2018. Rounding up livestock and chasing off predators are among the many tasks farm dogs perform. Learning which dog won the contest is now a popular feature of AFBF’s Convention.

Skippy has been with the Adamses for about two years. Helping the couple move beef cattle where they need to go is Skippy’s primary role on the farm.

Skippy to the rescue 

“Skippy’s a partner, she’s a pet and she helps us with the cattle every day,” Donald said. This assistance was necessary after a 2019 farm accident, in which a hay bale fell on Donald, left him paralyzed from the neck down. Eventually, he regained the ability to walk, using two canes. 

“Being able to keep the cows and having something for me to live for every day… she has contributed to that immensely,” he said.

The Adamses received Skippy from P.H.A.R.M. (Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri)  Dog USA, which supports farmers and farm family members with physical, cognitive or illness-related disabilities. The couple learned about the program while Donald was a patient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.  P.H.A.R.M. founder Jackie Allenbrand matched the Adamses with Skippy.

Laura shed 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.” 

P.H.A.R.M. Dog trainer Don McKay worked with Skippy to develop her cow herding skills. McKay spent three days helping the Adamses learn what Skippy can do, the commands she follows, and helped the dog adjust to the size of the Adamses’ herd of about 200 cattle. 

“Skippy is right there with you. If you go into a pen, she’s keeping the cows away. If you’re walking cows into a pen, she’ll get ahead of you, watch the gate and not let any turn back,” Laura said. “You can put her at the gate and watch them go in and feed and not worry about closing the gates. There’s just so much she does every day, it’s hard to describe. She’s there as a partner helping you every day.”

Laura & Donald Adams and their dog, Skippy, call it a day after working cattle. Photo courtesy of AFBF & Big Foot Media

Treats for a good girl

AFBF, with support from Nestlé Purina PetCare, recognized Skippy, three regional runners-up and a People’s Choice Pup on Jan. 21 during an AFBF convention general session.

Farm Bureau members submitted written responses to questions, photos and video clips to nominate their dogs for Farm Dog of the Year.

A panel of judges with expertise in the pet care industry, veterinary medicine and communications reviewed more than 100 nominations to select the contest winner. Judging criteria included the dog’s helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and its role in making life better on and off the farm. 

 “It’s well known that farming can be stressful. Farm dogs can help ease the burden, often playing a dual role as working dogs and companions to farm families,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.

Purina donated the contest prizes: $5,000, a trophy plate, a year’s supply of Pro-Plan dog food and other Purina products for Skippy. 

“Purina is proud to support the sixth annual Farm Dog of the Year competition with American Farm Bureau,” said Jack Scott, Nestlé Purina PetCare vice president of sustainable sourcing. “Skippy’s role on the farm and bond to Donald exemplify what this contest is about.”

Three other regional runners-up in the contest each received $1,000, a trophy plate and Purina products. 

See AFBF’s video about Skippy at Learn more about P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA at