Best, Four-Legged Farm Hands Announced in Farm Bureau’s Farm Dog of the Year Contest

Tough, 2023 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year with her owners, Denny and Donna Ashcraft.
Tough, 2023 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year with her owners, Denny and Donna Ashcraft.
(AFBF, Big Foot Media )

The best, four-legged farm hand has been announced in Farm Bureau’s Farm Dog of the Year contest—Tough, a Border Collie owned by Kansas Farm Bureau members Denny and Donna Ashcraft—recognized at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Convention, in partnership with Purina. 

The contest celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers as they sustainably produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America. Rounding up livestock and chasing off predators are among the many tasks performed by farm dogs, says the release.

“Farmers and ranchers love what they do, but it can be stressful, even on the best days. Because farm dogs often play a dual role as both working dogs and companions to farm families, they can help ease the burden,” says Zippy Duvall, president of AFBF, in the release.

Tough, the 2023 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year, has supported the Ashcrafts for the past 12 of 14 years in her life, working livestock and helping move them where they need to go. At the age of seven, Tough suffered a severe spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from the neck down for a week, but as Denny says, “Tough persevered, worked at rehab and is now about 90% back to normal.” Prior to the injury, Tough competed against the top herding dogs across the nation in livestock shows in Houston, San Antonio, Denver and Fort Worth, bringing home champion, reserve and third place honors many times.

Tough lives to work and lives for Denny, Donna adds. 

Tough - AFBF Farm Dog 2023
Tough,  2023 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year
(Photo provided by AFBF, Big Foot Media)

In addition, four regional runners-up and the People’s Choice Pup were announced, including:
•    Stan, owned by Lexie Hain, New York Farm Bureau, Northeast region runner-up
•    Pepper, owned by Tom and Stephanie Barnett, Tennessee Farm Bureau, Southern region runner-up
•    Bree, owned by the Nowobielski family, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Midwest region runner-up
•    Fez, owned by Alexa Coniglione, Montana Farm Bureau, Western region runner-up
•    Case, owned by Kelsi and Amanda Duhon, Louisiana Farm Bureau, People’s Choice Pup

2023 Farm Dogs of the Year
Provided by AFBF

A panel of judges reviewed over 100 nominations, judging the dogs on helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and their role in making life better on and off the farm. The People’s Choice Pup is found through a social media contest with online voting as part of the overall competition.

People's Choice Pup 2023
Provided by AFBF

As partner in the contest, Purina donates $5,000 in prize money, a trophy plate, a year’s supply of Pro-Plan dog food and other Purina products to the winner, as well as $1,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and Purina products to the four regional runners-up. The People’s Choice Pup earns bragging rights, a year’s supply of Pro-Plan dog food and other Purina products.

The 2024 Farm Dog of the Year Contest is open for nominations, with applications to close July 14.


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