We all know that dogs are furry and cuddly, sweet and loving. Man's Best Friends are also often strikingly intelligent.
Cattle farmer Jackie Allenbrand always loved having dogs around in her day-to-day life. She says that she's "always had a knack" with the animals—but she had never thought about training them to actually do some of the work that farmers themselves do. That is, until 2005, when she met a Border Collie named Weasel and his owner at a farm show.
Weasel was one of those strikingly intelligent dogs; the four-legged farmer was able to herd cattle and help his owner with a number of different tasks. This was critical to the success of Weasel's farm, because his owner was living with a partial leg amputation and couldn't get around very easily.
The human farmer explained how the two worked together to Jackie: "He said, 'I can send Weasel out to get my cattle and all I have to do is sit at the gate and close it behind me, and that really saves me a lot of time.'"
This exchange inspired dog-loving Jackie to think big about how farm dogs could assist their owners with day-to-day tasks, when the human farmers needed a bit of extra help, whether due to injury, disability, or simply being short-handed. After several years of research and work, in 2012 Jackie established PHARM Dog USA, the only non-profit in the United States dedicated to training dogs to assist disabled farmers.
PHARM Dog USA trains two types of four-legged farmers: herding dogs (usually Border Collies), and service dogs (usually Labradors). And each service dog is specifically trained to help the farmer with whom it will be paired. For human farmers who struggle with legal blindness, long-term injuries, or conditions like a lack of balance, these furry partners are truly godsends, helping them remain independent and productive on the farms that they love.
Photos via Modern Farmer. If you love reading inspirational stories about animals, check out our Heartwarming Animals YouTube channel or our original series, Life in the Dog House. And as always, don't forget to smile!