December 2015
Homeplace & Community

A Four-Legged Farmhand

 
  Left to Right, Tammy Dunham, just started helping at PHARM Dog USA, Sheila Hunt and her new dog Sue, Jackie Allenbrand, PHARM Dog USA originator, Wendy Miller and Bobby Miller with their dog Cap. Bobby helps train and Wendy helps on the board and with placements when she can.
   

PHARM Dog USA provides dogs for help around the farm to farmers with illness or disabilities.

If you are reading this, chances are you are involved in agriculture in some form or the other. Sure, some of you own large farms and have lots of helpers; but, for a lot of people, you own a small farm growing as much as you can on your land and/or raising cattle, goats, sheep, so forth.

Things are going great, your farm is prospering, your health is good and then … you suffer a debilitating injury or illness. No longer can you round up the livestock, you can’t even get the pasture gate open. Do you sell your property and move into town or try to scrape up money you don’t have to hire a helper? Where do you go from here? I am happy to tell you there is somewhere for you to go: PHARM Dog USA.

  Left, Allenbrand and her first demo dog, Kristy, trained with service skills. Right, this is Odie. Labrador Retrievers or Lab mixes saved from shelters or rescues are trained with service skills a farmer might need. Things such as retrieving tools, carrying buckets, helping with mobility and opening gates can be helpful to save time and energy.

I thought of the PHARM Dog USA concept in 2005. My husband and I used dogs on our farm to work the cattle and wondered if a dog could be trained for further farm use. Since developing the program and placing our first dog in 2009, PHARM Dog USA has placed several dogs with farmers with a disability or illness that may need the help of a four-legged farmhand.

We use Border Collies only for herding purposes. For service work, the program uses Labrador Retrievers or Lab mixes saved from shelters or rescues. Opening gates and retrieving tools are a few of the things dogs can be trained to do on the farm. Mobility is another purpose dogs have been trained in to assist with walking on a farm’s uneven terrain.

PHARM Dog USA has not only placed dogs in Missouri but in Nebraska as well, and hopes to expand this service to farmers in other states. The program travels to the farm for the final placement to be with the farmer onsite and to make sure the farmer is comfortable with commands and to answer any questions while on the farm. These travel costs add up and PHARM Dog USA does not receive corporate sponsorship but runs off donations and small grants. We currently have a Go Fund Me campaign established.

We are a 501c3 Not for Profit and a group of farmers just trying to do our best to help other farmers. No one within our group receives a salary and money donated goes back into the program. Since we are a small group, the placements do take some time before becoming finalized.

If anyone has further questions, please visit our website, www.pharmdog.org, and Facebook at PHARM Dog USA.

While PHARM Dog USA has not yet placed a dog in Alabama, give us a call. We are looking to expand the program as quickly and widely as we can.

Jackie Allenbrand is originator of PHARM Dog USA.