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Enter your winning farm dog in Prairie Farmer’s annual Favorite Farm Dog Contest, and your faithful helper can join the ranks of Roxie, Colby, Max, Dixie and others.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

January 24, 2019

4 Min Read
Roxie, a Welsh corgi farm dog
COVER DOG: Barb Helmink’s Teutopolis, Ill., farm is home to Prairie Farmer’s 2018 Favorite Farm Dog, Roxie. Roxie is a 3-year-old Welsh corgi.

What’s a farmer without a faithful canine sidekick? If our years of Prairie Farmer Favorite Farm Dogs are any indication, he or she would be a lonely one — because Illinois farmers love their dogs. And we’ve learned they have some pretty incredible dogs.

Is your farm dog tops? We’re willing to bet it is. Make sure your dog gets his or her day by nominating them for our 2019 Favorite Farm Dog Contest. To enter your dog, use the app below to submit your favorite photo and an essay sharing your dog’s best stories and exactly why he or she should be our 2019 Favorite Farm Dog. Please limit essays to 300 words.

In your essay, tell us just what makes your dog the perfect canine candidate. Include your name, address and phone number on the entry form, and your dog’s name, age and breed. Entries are due March 25.

The winning dog’s owner will receive a complete photo shoot of their dog on the farm, on the job, and with and without family members, plus a 16-by-20-inch Modern Metals wall art fixture featuring their favorite farm dog photo, complete with the winning credentials. In addition, the first-place farm dog will receive $100; second place will win $75; and third place will receive $50.

And don’t forget the real prize: neighborhood glory for your four-legged friend.

Looking back
Last year’s winner, a 3-year-old Welsh corgi named Roxie, lives with her owner, Barb Helmink, on their Teutopolis, Ill., farm. Roxie won for her plucky ability to join Barb morning and night for chores, barking to move dairy steers back from the feed bunk so Barb can feed. But Roxie’s had an even more important job on the farm: faithful companion and listening ear. After Barb’s husband, Joe, died suddenly three years ago, her daughter Beth brought Roxie home for her. Turns out, Roxie was just what Barb needed.

“You can talk to a dog about all kinds of things,” Barb says. Roxie follows Barb to the garden throughout the summer, lying in cool soil as she waits. When the gardening and the chores are done, the two sit for a spell in the swing that Joe built.

“We sit in the swing and we just talk,” Barb says. “She’s sure been good for me!”

Roxie with cows in barn

MOXIE: Writes Beth Helmink of her mom’s dog, Roxie: “She certainly believes herself to be much bigger than she is. Standing far less than a foot tall, she feels right at home around 1,600-pound cattle.”

In 2017, Colby, an Australian shepherd from Rosamond, Ill., won first prize for his ability to herd cattle as easily as he snuggles poults — a calm and gentle soul who’s eager to please and quick to obey. Owners Missy and Dustin Cothern entered Colby in the contest.

“They say you only get one good dog in life, and I believe it. That’s Colby for us,” Dustin says, reiterating the sentiment believed by the winning farm dog family before Colby.

In 2016, Max, a border collie-terrier mix from Elizabeth, Ill., won first prize. Like a lot of farm dogs, Max is pretty much one of the family. “Some people say you only get one good dog in your life, and for us, that is Max,” says owner Sierra Downing, with Randy Haas.

In 2015, Dixie the Australian shepherd took top honors for her ability to help manage a 150-head cow herd. Dixie’s owners, Matt and Liz Hulsizer, went straight for top recommendations in finding their perfect farm dog, looking up our 2009 winner, Smokey, and his owner, Tony Tadie.

Tadie’s advice: “Don’t pick a dog; let the dog pick you.” Timeless wisdom.

Enter now
Prairie Farmer’s Favorite Farm Dog Contest began in 2000, and ever since, editors and judges here at the magazine have weighed the qualifications and debated the merits of talented working dogs, terrific companion animals and guardians of the farm. We examine photos and read essays, and are reminded again and again that a good farm dog is truly a farm family’s best friend.

So whether your dog is your companion, protector, family or best friend, be sure to send your favorite stories and best photo our way by March 25. Send digital entries using the form below. Applicants must be 14 or older. All photos become property of Prairie Farmer and will not be returned.

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About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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