Every farm has at least one tractor, at one old shed, an old grain silo and, definitely, at least one farm dog. In celebration of National Dog Day (follow the feed on Twitter), I thought we could take a closer look at the roles of a farm dog, from guardian and labourer, to playmate and friend.
Protection of the family and livestock has always been critical due to the remoteness of many farms. (Think of the sheep dog protecting the flock from wolves, coyotes and foxes.)
Historically, and to this day, many dogs are used to work on the farm in livestock operations. Working feedyard dogs can be extremely great assets in herding or pushing cattle (and they don’t cuss or yell!).
The farm dog must be a great listener also. And, let’s face it: it’s likely a good thing that dogs can’t talk as they know pretty much everything that goes on in a household and on the farm. If you’re like me, you may recall a time or two when you have asked your dog for advice, only to get a staring tilted head with tongue out and tail wagging in response.
Besides the increase of new breeds on the farms, another interesting change is that many of us grew up in a time when the farm dog was never allowed in the house no matter the season. When it was too cold the dog may have slept in the shop. Nowadays it seems the dog has the run of the house unless he is belly-high in cow sh*t all day….”gross, the dog smells like dad!”
By now you are probably wondering about my dog pictured with me at the top of the page. Kipper, as described by Kevin Serfas is a 100-pound house cat. He is half Burmese Mountain dog and half Lab. He is allergic to grass, scared of the vacuum and fireplace and thinks that the couch is his bed. He is definitely not a working farm dog but definitely full fills many of the friend, protector and companion roles that are described above. Kipper is definitely a family member as his hair all over the house will attest.
Whatever the role of your dog, I am sure that above all else, s/he is an important member of the family and the farm operation. Here’s hoping you celebrate National Dog Day with your dog and the rest of the family.