Specially trained dogs help farmers with disabilities
Specially trained dogs help farmers with disabilities Alda Owen pets her farm service dog Sweet Baby Jo after moving cattle on her farm near Maysville, Mo., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. Operating in only four Midwestern states, PHARM Dog USA, or Pets Helping Agriculture in rural Missouri, has placed 10 dogs since 2009 and has two more in training. The nonprofit, believed to be the only one of its kind in the United States, trains dogs specifically for farmers with disabilities. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Specially trained dogs help farmers with disabilities
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The demanding daily chores of a farmer were always a little different for Alda Owen. She is legally blind, able to see some blurry shapes and very close objects but not much else.
 
It was like that for years on the 260-acre farm she shares with her husband in northwest Missouri. That was until a bull knocked a gate into her. The injury required 60 stitches in her left leg. Owen's daughter decided her proud mother needed a helping hand. Or in this case, a wagging tail. Help came in the form of Sweet Baby Jo, a friendly, energetic border collie. The dog helps control the couple's Angus cattle.
 
The pairing was made possible through a nonprofit. It is believed to be the only one of its kind in the United States. The organization trains dogs specifically for farmers with disabilities. Operating in only four Midwestern states, PHARM Dog USA, or Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri, has placed 10 dogs since 2009. It has two more in training.
 
"She's made it possible for me to be a productive person, to keep the life we've built," Owen said of the dog, which she received in 2012.
 
PHARM Dog USA has a shoestring budget. But founder Jackie Allenbrand is committed to help disabled farmers prove they can be as independent as their able-bodied peers.
 
"People think of farmers as rugged and tough," Allenbrand said. "When you see a big, burly farmer crying after they get a dog because they know they can keep farming, you see what a difference it's making. That's what drives us."
 
PHARM Dog USA trains Labrador retrievers and lab mixes for service skills, such as retrieving tools, carrying buckets or opening gates. Border collies are trained only to herd and help control cattle and other animals. The farmers never pay for the dogs, which are donated or rescued from shelters, and agriculture rehabilitation groups pay for the training. PHARM Dog also has received some grants, and gets dog food donated by Cargill Nutrition.
 
It takes about a year to determine if a dog has the intelligence and temperament to be a service dog, according to Bobby Miller, a Plattsburg, Missouri, rancher who also trains border collies, including Sweet Baby Jo. The biggest challenge is matching a farmer's specific needs with the right dog, said Don McKay, an Iowa farmer who trains border collies.
 
"Dogs have different abilities, just like people," he said, adding that the first days can be bumpy but that most matches work out once the dog and farmer improve their communication.
 
The emotional support is as important as the work Sweet Baby Jo does, Owen said. Now 62, Owen spent most of her life hiding her disability and staying within a small comfort zone. Since she got Sweet Baby Jo, Owen has started traveling and speaking at panels about farmers with disabilities.
 
"It gave me back my self-esteem and pride," Owen said.
 
Troy Balderston, who has been in a wheelchair since a car accident in 2010 left him a quadriplegic, said he wouldn't be able to work on a feedlot in Norton, Kansas, or live on his farm near Beaver City, Nebraska, without Duke. That is his border collie provided by PHARM Dog and trained by McKay.
 
"Duke keeps me safe. He keeps the cattle from running me over," Balderston said. "He goes everywhere I go. He's a great worker and a great companion."
 
PHARM Dog USA has had inquiries from farmers in several other states, including New York, Colorado and Mississippi. But Allenbrand said it isn't yet financially possible to meet those needs. She hopes to someday have corporate sponsorship to expand the effort because, "there are farmers all over the country who need this service," she said. "It's important that we help them."

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/specially-trained-dogs-help-farmers-disabilities/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did "PHARM Dog USA" choose this name?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (22)
  • genevieveb-6-bar
    9/18/2015 - 08:12 p.m.

    "PHARM Dog USA" chose this name because it is an acronym for "Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri", as well as being an abbreviation of sorts for the word "pharmacy" and a play on the word "farm". At the article's end, Jackie Allenbrand states, "there are farmers all over the country who need this [dog-help] service" (paragraph 14). Since a pharmacy is a place that helps people. Also, the dogs involved are being given to ranchers for help on their farms, hence the play-on-words. "PHARM Dog USA" chose this name to describe what they do, as well as provide a humorous and witty title for themselves.

    • carlsonc-rei
      9/21/2015 - 04:03 p.m.

      Well, this article is NOT about a pharmacy. I know that pharmacies help people ,but this article is about dogs helping farmers not pharmacy people helping farmers.

  • carlsonc-rei
    9/21/2015 - 03:48 p.m.

    PHARM Dog USA in Missouri chose this name because it means Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri. The company named it that because they wanted dogs to help out farmers with disabilities. Some farmers worked their lives on farms and since they have a disability they think they have to stop farming. When a dog with farming experience the farmers are relieved that they don't have to stop farming.

  • lilyg-2-bar
    9/21/2015 - 07:53 p.m.

    I think PHARM Dog USA chose this name because it helps farmers with special needs in the USA. I think this article is really interesting because I didn't know about this type of service a dog could help with and make such a difference to people that need it.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    9/21/2015 - 08:16 p.m.

    The PHARM Dog USA chose its name because PHARM and farm are homophones. Since the dogs work on the farm, it would make sense to name the program after where the dogs work. I found this article interesting because, I didn't know that people could train dogs to do that sort of thing. It did not surprise me because dogs are helpful in many ways, and I am glad that they are taking that helpfulness into a field where people need help.

  • jacksonm-2-bar
    9/22/2015 - 08:27 p.m.

    PHARM dog isa is something that everyone should know about because of how well these dogs do tough work. This article surprised me because i never knew that there was a disability that would not allow you to farm.

  • madisona1-lam
    9/23/2015 - 01:39 p.m.

    I have always been interested in service dogs. I know they take very long to teach and train along with receiving capable puppies. It's amazing that this organization is able to donate the very special dogs to people with disabilities sense it cost so much to get puppies and to find willing trainers.

  • davidd-4-bar
    9/28/2015 - 09:07 p.m.

    PHARM Dog USA chose this name because it stands for Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri and its also a play on words because pharm sounds like farm and this organization helps farmers

  • karlio-mil
    9/30/2015 - 04:05 p.m.

    This article is about some dogs helping out disabled farmers. This is a really cool article it shows compassion and lending a helping hand. I think it is really cool how it is a non-profit showing how they can impact the world. I also think that it is really cool because you don't really hear about people helping out farmers. I loved this article especially because it was close to us.

  • giavannac-orv
    10/06/2015 - 12:49 a.m.

    "PHARM dog USA" chose this name because it stands for pets helping agriculture in rural Missouri. "PHARM dog USA"this program helps disabled farmers prove they can be as independent as the farmers without any disabilities.

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