KINGSTON - Missouri is leading the way on a new program that pairs shelter dogs with farmers who have disabilities. Click on the video at the left to watch this Sarah's Story.
"Pharm Dog" is part of the University of Missouri Extension's Agribility program. PHARM stands for Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri. Four years ago, Bruce Trammell of Kingston suffered a head injury when some heavy machinery hit him in the back of the head. Trammell now uses Odie, a one year old lab, to be his extra sets of hands around the farm. Odie, a Pharm dog, picks up buckets, rakes and even cordless drills when Trammell drops them.
"In the first year, I never left the house," said Trammell from his farm. "I didn't want to be around people and then God led me to bigger and better things."
One of those things was Odie, a yellow lab that someone in Ohio gave up.
"Pharm is for farmers who want to stay active on the farm," said Jackie Allenbrand, the program's founder. "So we train border collies for herding purposes or lab or lab mixes for service skills."
Due to the farm's uneven terrain and balance issues, Trammell had fallen ten times before he met Odie. Now, the dog serves as a walking cane of sorts and self esteem booster.
"I know I'm not going to fall in front of a bunch of people," said Trammell with the dog sitting at his side.
Odie costs about $5000. Several community groups have offered to do fundraisers for Trammell. If you'd like to help or help another farmer get a Pharm dog, you can contact Jackie Allenbrand at JackieA@meril.org