May 16 2024 04:21 PM

Getting into trouble seems to be a favorite activity for our pair of farm dogs.

Ever since I can remember, my parents have always began their day bright and early by heading to the barn at 4:30 a.m. After following this routine for nearly 50 years, my dad scoffs at the idea of using an alarm clock, strictly relying on his internal clock that wakes him up at the same time every morning. Now that all my siblings have graduated, my parents have earned the title of “empty-nesters” and have moved on from waking up kids, to waking up our two farm dogs — Jeddy and Buddy.

Farm dogs have been around for centuries. The main purpose of these dogs was to round up livestock, ward off predators before they had the opportunity to prey on livestock, and locate lost farm animals in the vast terrain using their keen sense of smell. Although these dogs were used as a layer of protection, they also seemed to bring a sense of companionship to farmers.

During my time growing up on the farm, we always had a dog. After our previous farm dog passed away from old age, it wasn’t the same around the farm. Initially planning on coming home with only one new member of the family, after some convincing and a lot of “But dad, please!” we somehow ended up coming home with two new beagle puppies. Anyone who has picked out a new dog knows how hard it can be to choose just one. With a dozen puppy eyes staring at you, it makes the selection process that much more difficult. From the moment these dogs stepped onto our farm, they have become part of the family. Getting into trouble is one of their biggest (and I think favorite) hobbies. Jeddy and Buddy love to be in the barn, in the field, or alongside my parents as they tinker around the farm.

After I graduated college and had my first career stint in feed sales, it didn’t take me long to notice that almost every single farm I visited had a farm dog. Often, these pups followed the farmers around like a shadow, everywhere they went they were happy to be there and tag along. As an important member of the family, most visitors that step on the farm know these furry friends by name. As a former salesman, sometimes becoming acquainted with the farm dog was much more daunting than getting to know their owners. Keeping the truck stocked with dog treats served its purpose and often broke the ice.

Farm dogs are also known for their emotional support. Having a dog on the farm helps curb anxiety and depression, provides emotional support, and reduces stress levels. Because they don’t talk back, they often serve as a listening ear. They are quick to hop in the truck or tractor to enjoy the ride. Farmers value and rely on their companionship through the good times and the bad. It’s safe to say that after many belly, head, and ear scratches, farm dogs will continue to hold a special place in farmers hearts for years to come.

Jenna Byrne

Jenna Byrne is an associate editor for Hoard’s Dairyman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2022, majoring in agricultural business with an emphasis in communications and marketing. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm near Neillsville, Wis.