SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, January 8, 2023 – Fez, a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd trained and owned by Lexie Coniglione from Glasgow, Montana, was named runner-up/western region in the 2023 Farm Dog of the Year Contest. The contest celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers as they sustainably produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America. Rounding up livestock and chasing off predators are among the many tasks performed by farm dogs.
Fez came into Coniglione’s heart at a low point in 2021. She had lost one family member to a tragic accident, and had just come back from a branding when she learned that her best friend since college had taken his own life.
“I was at a low point dealing with the grief. I had gotten in touch online with a wonderful family in Ekalaka who were proud of their stock dogs—rough-coat Border Collies with a quarter Australian shepherd. I didn’t know if getting a puppy would work out and if I had room emotionally,” Coniglione said. “Fez has become my best friend. He will work a 30-mile day or help me with small jobs at the feedlot. He’s been my right hand. I’ve watched him stop for a minute to look around and see my end goal. He is a little mind reader. That’s what I value most about him, the connection we have.”
Farm Bureau launched the Farm Dog of the Year contest five years ago – now a popular feature of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Convention. A panel of judges with expertise in the pet care industry, veterinary medicine and communications reviewed more than 100 nominations to select the 2023 Farm Dog of the Year. Judging criteria included the dog’s helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and their role in making life better on and off the farm. Farm Bureau members submitted written responses to questions, photos and video clips to nominate their dogs for Farm Dog of the Year.
The Valley County Farm Bureau member was thrilled to learn that Fez had been named a runner-up in the competition. “There are outstanding working dogs, and having them recognized in a national competition is fantastic,” she said.
Coniglione receives $1,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and Purina products.
The winner of the 2023 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award was Tough, a Border Collie owned by Kansas Farm Bureau members Denny and Donna Ashcraft. AFBF, with support from Nestlé Purina PetCare, recognized Tough, four regional runners-up including Fez, and a People’s Choice Pup today at its convention.
“We’re very excited to partner with Purina for the fifth annual Farm Dog of the Year contest, providing the public a look into daily life on the farm or ranch,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers love what they do, but it can be stressful, even on the best days. Because farm dogs often play a dual role as both working dogs and companions to farm families, they can help ease the burden.”
“Purina is proud to once again support the American Farm Bureau’s Farm Dog of the Year contest and congratulate this year’s winner, Tough,” said Jack Scott, vice president of sustainable sourcing at Nestlé Purina PetCare. “We recognize the important role dogs play on farms and believe this is at the core of our purpose that people and pets are better together.”