Decatur livestock guardian dog that warded off coyotes up for Farm Bureau People's Choice Pup

Casper attempts to give his owner John Wierwille of Decatur a kiss at the LifeLine Animal Clinic on Dec. 1, 2022. (Zoe Seiler/Decaturish)

This story was updated on Wednesday at 9:27 a.m.

A year after fighting off and killing several coyotes to protect five sheep, Decatur’s own Casper the livestock guardian dog is in the running for People’s Choice Pup in the Farm Dog of the Year contest.

The public can vote for Casper to win the People’s Choice Pup award. To cast a vote for Casper, click here. According to owner John Wierwille, voting ends on Dec. 20 and individuals can cast one vote per day per device. Multiple votes can be cast in one day across different devices.

“Members of the public are invited to vote online for their favorite dog in the People’s Choice Pup contest as part of the overall competition,” the Farm Bureau website states. “The People’s Choice Pup will win bragging rights and a $1,000 cash prize from Purina. The winner of People’s Choice Pup, along with the Farm Dog of the Year and runners-up, will be announced in January at the American Farm Bureau Convention.”

In November 2022 the Great Pyrenees took on 11 coyotes, killing eight, while protecting five sheep along with another dog, Daisy, at a property near John Wierwille’s home. Casper suffered multiple significant injuries. He spent about 17 days at an emergency vet clinic and was at LifeLine Animal Project for about two weeks.

Casper, now about three years old, is fully healed and back with his sheep. Owner John Wierwille said that Casper and Daisy are both doing well.

“They are as stubborn and determined to do things their own way as ever, but they are also as brave and protective as ever,” Wierwille said.

On Dec. 2, Wierwille was out with Casper and Daisy looking over a group of sheep in Midtown that had been getting attacked by coyotes all week.

“We had two other dogs here for the last several weeks, but we lost two adult sheep, and a lamb to coyotes this week and the other two dogs suffered injuries yesterday, so I brought Casper and Daisy out here late last evening,” Wierwille said in an email on Dec. 2. “So, yes, the dogs are back at work. So far so good, although Casper keeps heading into the woods by himself and then coming back to Daisy, who is staying with me and the sheep.”

Wierwille said that he knows four other great dogs are nominated as well, but he has never known another dog like Casper that goes looking for the problem and hunts it down until the problem is gone the way that his beloved dog does.

“When I get him to a job, I don’t have to walk him around the location or try to explain the problem, he just sniffs adults and goes to work,” Wierwille said. ” I just think he is an exceptionally brave and determined protector of livestock. He makes me a much better shepherd, and that is what livestock guardian dogs are supposed to do.”