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An Australian Shepherd races through the agility course during a Pro Plan Performance Team show. Dogs of varied breeds—retrievers, cattle dogs, and shepherds—get to show off daily for visitors.
The dogs are adopted by the performance team’s trainers, who develop the dogs’ natural skills for agility, flying disc, or diving.
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A Belgian Draft horse stands quietly in the doorway to his stable. The day’s rush of visitors having passed through, the horse calmly poses for the one admirer who remains.
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Dalmatians wait their turns to be evaluated by a judge during a conformation show in the Purina Event Center. The center hosts many dog shows.
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John Casey, the head dog trainer, entertains the crowd with one of his flying disc dogs. The routine mixes long-distance throws of the disc that the dog races to leap and catch with discs tossed in rapid succession that the dog quickly retrieves.
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During a cow-milking demonstration in the barn, children get the opportunity to see the process up close. If they muster the courage, they are welcome to try their hands at milking the cow.
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A Dalmatian stands at attention before beginning a competition. He will be tested on his ability to follow the commands given by his owner as she travels a circular route on a horse-drawn carriage.
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A father and son enjoy the barn’s peace and quiet in the late afternoon after the day’s visitors begin to leave.
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Sheep, like the cows and horses in the barn, can freely rest, eat, and pass between their indoor and outdoor spaces to get fresh air and meet visitors.
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Piglets rest on a heating pad in a corral opposite the horse stables inside the barn. The piglets are easily within reach of a curious child and other passersby.
By Adam Williams
If there were ever a need for an exclusive location for exceptional animals in the same vein as the need for summer sports camps for kids or elite college prep schools, Purina Farms in Gray Summit has satisfied it.
There are the expected farm animals—horses, cows, chickens, geese, and sheep—in their stables and yards, but the farm’s stars are the dogs.
Every day, dogs that have been adopted and trained strut their stuff as part of the Pro Plan Performance Team’s agility, flying disc, and diving activities. Visitors delight in these shows as they watch the dedicated trainers and talented dogs work seamlessly together.
Over at the Purina Event Center, another type of show takes place. Owners and handlers from around the country bring dogs of nearly every breed to participate in purebred and competition dog shows.
The farm is also a place where the general public can engage with all the animals that call Purina Farms home. Visitors often crowd the farm’s venues by the school-bus load.
They flow through the barn, peeking into stables and saying hello to the farm’s residents.
And when the crowds of school children and families who visit on any given day start to thin, the farm animals continue their quiet, exceptional lives.