Smurf, a cattle collie from Madison, Ga., can clown around when his farmers, Zachary and Sydney Floyd, need a laugh, but he’s all business when there’s work to be done on his farm.
“Smurf can find and bay loose cattle that have gotten out, sort and gather groups or singles, load trailers and bring cattle up alleyways to me at the head gate,” Zachary said. “In the pasture he protects me from nervous mothers while I tag newborns. He’s the first in the pen with an unruly cow or bull and ensures my safety. His courage and obedience are unmatched.”
These standout qualities prompted judges to pick Smurf as one of four runners-up in the 2020 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest. He received $1,000, a trophy plate and Purina products. He was recognized at the AFBF convention.
Smurf competed against nine other dogs from across the U.S. The contest winner was an Australian Shepherd, Flint, from Utah.
Smurf inherited his namesake blue color and toughness from his dad, a “blue heeler” Australian cattle dog. His friendliness likely came from his mom, a short-haired border collie. Both breeds are known for their intelligence and herding skills.
“What’s amazing to me is how good these cattle dogs are at picking up English and the context of what you’re saying,” Zachary said. “He’s good at judging the situation we’re in and distinguishing between domestic and wild animals. We have a pot-bellied pig and cats that he’d never harm. He’s friends with them. But he’s also caught and killed three small wild hogs that were about his weight.”
Zach has trained Smurf to respond to all of the basic obedience commands of sit, stay, turn, rollover and come. Smurf can also do one especially clever trick; he can turn off light switches. Zach says his wife, Sydney, loves playing fetch with Smurf. On dove shoots, Smurf is good at retrieving birds.