On the family farm, there’s a job for everyone, including our furry, four-legged friends. Farm dogs play an important role on the farm and hold a special place in our hearts. They show up every day without complaint and eager to pitch in, and many go above and beyond in caring for their farm families. That’s why the American Farm Bureau is proud to partner with Nestlé Purina PetCare each year, as we celebrate the hardworking farm and ranch dogs across our country with the Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest.

Farm dogs can perform a variety of jobs on the farm. From rounding up livestock and chasing off predators to opening gates and fetching or carrying tools, dogs truly are a farmer’s best friend. Beyond the daily farm tasks, some dogs can even be trained to sniff out diseases in herds and crops. And farm dogs are good for human health too, as studies show that spending time with a dog can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost your overall mood.

This spring, Jennifer and I welcomed a new member to our farm family, a Red Heeler named Ziggy. (Yes, believe it or not, that’s the name he came with, so we knew it was meant to be.) Though he is new to farm life, Ziggy loves every minute of it. He’s already jumping in and helping Jennifer with her morning chores. When I am home on the farm, he follows me everywhere, jumping around the fields and chasing chipmunks out of the way. He tries to herd the cows—bless him—but he still has a lot to learn. As any farmer or rancher knows, it takes months—sometimes years—to train a farm dog. But over time, a good farm dog becomes an invaluable member of the farm family—whether they are your constant companion or your faithful right hand.

Now in its seventh year, the Farm Dog of the Year contest is a real favorite at the American Farm Bureau Convention where the winner is announced. And it’s popular with audiences beyond our fencerows too. Last year, more than 110,000 people cast votes for the People’s Choice Pup—the social media component of the contest. Whether you live out in the country, in the city or in a suburb, people love their dogs. This popular contest is another way to connect with folks far from the farm or ranch and offers them a glimpse into daily life as we grow food, fiber and fuel.

Does your farm dog have what it takes to be the next Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year? Nominations are open now, through July 12. The grand prize winner, selected by a panel of judges, will take home $5,000 in prize money and a year’s worth of Purina Pro Plan dog food. For more on the contest, to learn about past winners, and to submit a nomination, visit our website.