Casper The American Farm Bureau’s “Farm Dog of the Year”

Story by Rebecca West, Images provided by John Wierwille
In case you missed it, it was one of the wildest, most intense stories of the year in the world of canines. A stout-hearted Great Pyrenees named Casper determinedly fought with a pack of coyotes while guarding his flock late one night in Georgia, killing eight of the 11 marauders in the process.

It all went down at a home in Decatur around 9 p.m. on November 3, 2022, when a small group of coyotes skulking about approached the property Casper stood guard over. Initially, the animals were run off, but when they returned several hours later on the 4th, Casper, just 20 months old at the time, was ready for them.
John Wierwille, Casper’s owner, was reawakened that night by barking and went back outside to investigate. To clarify, Wierwille is the owner of Ewe Can Do It Naturally, a landscaping business that enlists a small flock of formerly-homeless sheep to organically clear invasive species like kudzu, privet, and all sorts of ivy with the added benefit of slow-release fertilizers.

Once outdoors, he was greeted by the sight of his two LGDs, Casper and Daisy, backing the flock into the corner of their pen in an attempt to safeguard them. From there, Casper did exactly what you’d expect a member of his powerful working breed to do: deter the predators at all costs. It was a chaotic skirmish that spilled out onto the street and continued through neighbors’ yards and even garages before disappearing into a narrow tract of dense woods.

When it was all said and done, he had killed eight coyotes while Daisy stood vigilantly by the sheep. Casper, however, wasn’t seen for two days following the fracas, as he’d resolutely chased after the remaining coyotes in his zeal to finish the job. When he finally returned, it was clear he had been badly injured during the violent scuffle and required multiple surgeries to close wounds to his neck and back. His condition was so bad he had to have the remains of his tail amputated.
While it took six to eight months to heal, Casper slowly regained his strength. “In lots of ways, Casper is back to his old self and ready to go back to work full time. He was a bit depressed the few times Daisy was out on jobs with other dogs (training LGD puppies, basically). They are clearly a bonded pair and happiest together, and that is the goal, but we have some retraining to do for Casper,” Wierwille shared with us.

The tenacious pup went on to be nominated for the American Farm Bureau’s “Farm Dog of the Year” and ended up winning the 2024 People’s Choice Pup Award, which included a trophy plate and Purina brand products.

Additionally, Casper received a $1,000 cash prize that a grateful Wierwille graciously donated to the Lifeline Animal Project, the Atlanta-based nonprofit animal shelter that cared for the indomitable Casper after his brutal mauling. “Thank you also to everyone who voted for our brave, determined, and goofy livestock protector. We are proud of Casper and glad he has a long life of doing what he loves ahead of him,” Wierwille, a Georgia Farm Bureau member, wrote in a social media post regarding the award.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is the national advocate for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Every year, Farm Bureau members in more than 2,800 counties meet to discuss and vote on policies affecting their farms, ranches, and communities. Those policies then set the agenda for their state Farm Bureaus and, ultimately, AFBF.

The Farm Dog of the Year contest celebrates farm dogs and the many ways they support farmers and ranchers across the U.S. Each year, farmers are invited to submit nominations for the Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest supported by Purina. The grand prize winner receives a year’s worth of Purina Pro-Plan dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner is recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention, which was held in January this year. Three regional runners-up each won $1,000 in prize money.
While the overall winner this year was a dog named Skippy, the People’s Choice Pup award saw more than 100,000 people cast their votes for the 2024 title. Judging of the contest is based on nomination materials submitted. Desired attributes in the Farm Dog of the Year are helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness, and obedience. You can visit https://www.fb.org/initiative/farm-dog-of-the-year for more information.

On a final note, we asked Wierwille about the relationship between him and his LGDs. “All of our working dogs are part of the family. They all get days and weeks and sometimes months off between jobs. This allows us to take care of veterinary, grooming, and other needs and just gives them a break. It is pretty obvious when they want to get back to work, and when we see those signs, we get them there.” All in all, it sounds like a darn good life.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *