Disabled Farmers Get Assistance from Dogs

The difficulties of running a farm are greater when you have disabilities, but thanks to some dogs, the task is getting a little easier.

by Dani Yokhna

Alda Owen has been legally blind since childhood. Previously hiding her disability, she now strives to help her husband work on their farm in Maysville, Missouri. The task, of course, is extremely difficult. Because of her extremely poor eyesight, if she sees a dark spot on the ground, she thinks it’s a cow, but it is just a patch of dirt, she told NBC News. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Owen was worried she wouldn’t be able to help her husband at all.

“I wanted to be a partner,” Owen told NBC News. “I didn’t want to be a disabled handicap.”

Shortly after, Owen obtained a border collie from P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA, an organization that pairs working dogs with disabled farmers. Besides Owen, P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA has helped a dozen farmers; they’ve trained the dogs to be of assistance by retrieving buckets and tools as well as herding animals, NBC News reports. Owen’s border collie herds the cattle, which helps the farmers out greatly.

Disabled Farmers Get Assistance from Dogs (HobbyFarms.com)
Screengrab via NBC News

Having the dog “protects her,” Owen’s husband told NBC News. “I worry about her safety. [But] I worry a lot less now than I did.”

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The dog, it turned out, had another benefit for Owen. “She’s just made me open up and see, ‘You’ll be all right. You can do anything you want to do. Don’t let your disability hold you back.’”

To learn more about P.H.A.R.M. Dog USA, visit their website.


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