Ranch Dog ‘Flint’ Is The 2020 Farm Dog Of The Year

woman in cowboy hat petting farm dog

Across the rugged cowboy terrain of central Utah, an 8-year-old blue merle male Australian Shepherd named “Flint” gathered cattle for the first time. Steady and sure, he drove the stock with moxie, blending instinct and intuition. A ranch dog he became.

“Flint acted like he had spent his whole life as a ranch dog, though he hadn’t had many opportunities to do ranch work,” says Beth Crandall of Smithfield, Utah. She picked the Aussie pup when she was a teenager from a 2008 litter sired by a prominent stud dog of her veterinarian grandmother, Rebecca Powers Anderson.

Ranch dog Flint, now 12 years old, is the 2020 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year. The esteemed award celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers as loyal partners and enrich the lives of their farm families. A thoughtful, biddable worker, Flint (J Bar D Lor A Flint’s Dee-Light CGC STDd RN DNA-VP) fetched a leading role as the main ranch dog on the Crandall family ranch with his low-stress cattle handling and stock-savvy judgment. 

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which presents the award with support from Purina, says, “Flint is an inspiration to people on and off the farm. Doing what he loves, Flint is a true partner with the Crandall family doing the work of multiple ranch hands.” 

Beth was hooked on the versatility, loyalty and intelligence of Aussies when her grandmother offered her the pick of the litter sired by her stud dog “Ranger” (Lor A Iyanbito Flint Lex) out of “Dee” (WTCH Makin’ 8 Hanging In The Dees PATDcs RTDcs), a Hall of Fame dam from the J Bar D line begun in the 1960s by Jerry and Sharon Rowe.

Rebecca Anderson began breeding Aussies in 1969 as a 4-H project with help from her mother, Loretha Powers, a wonderful dog trainer, breeder and enthusiast for whom Lor A is named. The foundation behind Lor A Australian Shepherds includes prominent early working lines, such as J Bar D, Silverledge, Crown Point, and Las Rocosa.

Growing up on a ranch in Taos, New Mexico, Beth says, “Although Flint didn’t work on our farm, he helped me exercise my goats for 4-H and FFA. At the time, I had no idea how helpful a dog could be on a ranch,” she says.

When Beth left for college at Utah State University, Flint went with her. Four years later in 2016, Beth married — and Flint adopted — a fellow Utah State graduate, Rhett Crandall, whose family settled in the rugged mountainous state in the 1850s. Running Hereford and black Angus cattle on 26,000 acres, the Crandalls understand how a good stock dog comes in handy.

Beth and Rhett began taking Flint to the ranch, where he worked cattle alongside two Border Collies owned by Rhett’s father. “One of my favorite things about Flint is how he watches us to understand what we want,” Rhett says. “As he comes to obstacles like gates, creeks, trees, and brush, he figures out what he needs to do to get the cattle through. His biggest strength is wanting to please us.”

A ranch dog Flint became. Although his passion for working livestock was realized relatively late in life, his legacy will continue through his offspring and service to the Crandall family.