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Georgia’s very good farm dogs get their day with state Department of Agriculture commendations

DeKalb County Metro ATL

Georgia’s very good farm dogs get their day with state Department of Agriculture commendations

Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and about a dozen members of the legislature were on hand to congratulate Skippy and Casper. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

By Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
March 6, 2024

Two of Georgia’s goodest dogs had their day Wednesday in a special ceremony at the Georgia Department of Agriculture headquarters in downtown Atlanta where they were honored for acts of bravery and loyalty.

Skippy, a mixed breed dog from McDuffie County, won this year’s American Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Contest, and another Georgia dog, Casper, a Great Pyrenees from Decatur, took home the People’s Choice Pup Award.

Georgia Secretary of Agriculture Tyler Harper handed commendations to the pups’ owners. Harper said the bond between farmers and their working dogs is often even stronger than the bond between other dog owners and their beloved pooches.

“In many cases, they’re the farmer’s best employee, probably because they show up to work on time every day,” he said with a laugh. “They typically never complain about work. But definitely, it’s because of their unwavering commitment to their family and the job that each of our farm dogs do and the job that Skippy and Casper do every single day.”


Skippy moved in with Donald and Laura Adams after a falling hay bale struck Donald Adams, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed.

Skippy came to the Adamses courtesy of PharmDog USA, a nonprofit that matches disabled farmers with four-legged farmhands.

“There’s a misconception about herd dogs: all they do is herd. Skippy does so much more than that,” said Laura Adams.

“She’ll watch the gate, when the cows are going in and she’s 20 foot ahead of you, she’ll watch the gate when you tell her to watch so the cows don’t come back out. Or you can tell her to watch the gate and you can go in and feed and not have to close the gate. She’ll keep the cows away from you when you’re feeding. She’ll go into the messy, rainy places Georgia has that I don’t want to go.”

Skippy. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Adams said Skippy even learned without being taught how to help tag a newborn calf, or attach an ID to its ear. She said sometimes mama cows try to protest the process, but Skippy figured out how to keep them away long enough for the tagger to finish his job.

Donald Adams has had what his wife called a miraculous recovery and now walks around with the help of two canes, and Laura Adams said Skippy helped prevent him from being seriously injured again when 40 cows started pushing at a gate he was standing in front of.

“Skippy saw what was going on and ran around behind him, pushed all of them back,” she said. “So now the rule is Skippy gets out first.”


Skippy seemed a little nervous from all the attention, seeming content to watch the goings-on from the safety of the underside of a chair.

Casper. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Casper, on the other hand, made himself at home, plopping down on the floor when he felt like relaxing and approaching legislators and state workers when the mood struck him, offering his head for them to scratch.

Owner John Wierwille said Casper is a friendly, big-hearted dog, but when predators threaten his flock of sheep, the sweetness stops.

He proved that in 2022 when 11 coyotes approached the flock. Casper leapt into action and charged the coyote pack. After a long fight, eight coyotes lay dead at his feet, and the rest fled, but Casper himself sustained life-threatening injuries in the melee.

“What happened with Casper is hard to talk about, because it was terrible to watch, and it was even more terrible when he came home and was all torn up,” Wierwille said.

Wierwille credited the LifeLine Animal Project with patching Casper up and helping save his life.

Casper’s $1,000 prize was donated directly to LifeLine.

“We could not do urban agriculture here in Atlanta without the dogs,” he said. “It just is not possible. There are too many other predators that are a threat to the sheep. Quite honestly, there are a lot of people that are sometimes a threat to the sheep. The dogs keep all of those away, and they’re just priceless dogs.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: [email protected]. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.