Service Dogs are now being trained to help farmers and farm family members with disabilities, thanks to P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA (Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri).
Jackie Allenbrand was inspired to start P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA, after hearing the story of a farmer and his special dog Weezil, who helped him to say in work following a partial leg amputation. She became only further motivated after thinking about how helpful the dogs are around her farm. Placing her first dog in 2009, Jackie has never looked back. Thanks to P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA, twelve dogs are now at work helping farmers do what they do best and Jackie says that this is only the beginning.
When I asked Jackie to tell me a story about a dog who had been particularly inspirational, she didn’t hesitate to tell me about Duke, a dog who was formerly homeless. Duke was placed with Troy, a cattle farmer who had become paralyzed following a car accident. Troy said that after his accident the cattle did not respect him as much because his wheelchair was low. However, ever since being paired with Duke, Troy has been able to regain his independence and remain active on the farm. Jackie said that this is only one of the many successful placements that P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA has been able to foster over the years.
Although P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA has placed many breeds, they tend to gravitate towards Labs and Border Collies. Jackie explained to me that Border Collies are ideal for farmers that need help with livestock, whereas Labs are multifaceted and can be trained to meet farmers individual needs. Some of the tasks that Jackie and her team can train dogs to perform include: carrying buckets, retrieving tools, helping with mobility, opening gates, and going to get help in the case of an emergency.
The future of P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA looks bright. Jackie hopes that soon they can expand to help any farmer in the United States that is in need of a Service Dog. The organization also hopes that eventually they can have their own training facility to help farmers in need.
If you are inspired by this story and would like to help P.H.A.R.M. Dog with their work, you can visit their website to make a donation. They are also looking for corporate sponsorship and people who can donate vet supplies such as wormer, tick/flea meds, and heart guard. For additional information you can also reach out to Jackie on the contact page of the P.H.A.R.M. Dog website.
What an innovative idea for an underserved population. We can’t wait to see what Service Dogs will be trained for next!