A runner-up finish barely scratches the surface of what this farm dog means to its owner.

According to Montana's Northern Ag News, Fez, a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd, was named runner-up/western region in the 2023 Farm Dog of the Year Contest, put on by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Farm Bureau says that, "The contest celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers as they sustainably produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America. Rounding up livestock and chasing off predators are among the many tasks performed by farm dogs."

But this is much more about love, loyalty, support, friendship, grief recovery and devotion than it is about an award. Just ask Fez's owner, Lexie Coniglione from Glasgow, Montana.

In 2021, Lexie's life was in a dark spiral, after losing a family member in a tragic accident, followed by the news that her best friend had taken his own life. At a low point dealing with grief, she came in contact online with a family in Ekalaka advertising stock dogs, specifically rough-coat mixed Border Collie/Australian shepherds.

Was their room in Lexie's heart? Did she have the emotional wherewithal to let a puppy into her life?

That leap of faith has rewarded Lexie with a bond and a connection that maybe only dog lovers can truly understand: a best friend that will work tirelessly all day, then help with small jobs at the feedlot. Lexie swears that Fez stops for a minute and looks around to see what is left to be done. What else can I do to help my friend? A little four-footed mind reader.

For Fez's efforts, Lexie Coniglione received $1,000 in prize money, a trophy and various products from  Purina, one of the sponsors of the Farm Bureau's fifth annual contest.

But really, she receives much more than that from Fez every day.

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