Danika and Mike Bannasch on their farm with their dogs

Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

Dog Trainers and Farmers

by | May 30, 2017 | Animal Science, Office Hours, Spring/Summer 2017

When the pressures of dual careers in veterinary medicine accumulate, Danika and Mike Bannasch retreat to their 40-acre slice of heaven, 15 minutes west of campus. At 5 Dog Farm, they are restoring the land to native vegetation, training an unusual breed of dogs and raising their 11-year-old son, Cameron.

“We bought this place 12 years ago because it was an adventure,” said Mike.

Both Bannasches work in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Companion Animal Health. Mike is a coordinator in the Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials, helping develop studies to evaluate better ways to diagnose, prevent and treat companion-animal health problems.

He dreams of one day making 5 Dog a “beer farm,” growing hops, wheat, barley, oats and rye but for now is happy to have 2 acres almost ready for planting hops.

Danika trains the farm’s namesake — five Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. Two-year-old Ritz is a grand champion and junior hunter just starting her working career, and 6-year-old Pint is a champion and the youngest master hunter in the breed.

Pint is also a campus celebrity, having retrieved the plastic tee from the football field after every Aggie kickoff since 2012.

Danika, a veterinary professor and geneticist, studies the genetic basis of various animal diseases and conditions. She and colleagues identified a gene mutation that causes a form of cleft palate in her beloved “tollers.” The discovery may help locate other genes relevant to the cause of cleft palate in humans.