Rainbow is a mixed breed, perhaps part Australian Cattle Dog, perhaps part Alaskan Husky. We say she’s 2/3 border collie because she has a partial ruff around her neck. She weighs 50 or so pounds, has a long back and is lean and extremely agile. She knows where her rear legs are. When excited, she makes a trilling sound.
Rainbow has the genetic framework of a herding dog, but lacks the eye. She waits, chases, herds, nips. Things that move, interest to her. She’s herded the neighbor’s horses out of our yard. Alys considered training her to herd sheep, but decided that she’d be too hard on them.
Rainbow is playful and likes kids and other dogs.
Pete and Alys acquired Rainbow when she was eight-months old. Alys was mountain bike riding in the Silver Bowl area, outside of Butte, Montana. Rainbow followed her for several miles to Freemont Hot Springs. Alys ditched her by walking in one door of Hot Springs lodge and out the other. Rainbow was picked up by the shelter people. Two days later, Alys went to the shelter with a neighbor who was looking to adopt a cat. Alys then, for the next two weeks, tried to find her a home, but to no avail. So she and Pete felt they had no recourse but to adopt her.
Rainbow was a high energy dog. Alys worked on socializing her, by letting her play with other canines. She’s no longer as interested as she used to be in playing, but has maintained her friendly attitude. She’s a good doggie diplomat.
Rainbow gets lots of exercise. Pete takes her skijoring in the winter, and Alys takes her on trail rides in the summer. She works with her after exercising her because she’s then more amenable to this. Rainbow’s an excellent inside dog and has good house manners. Alys and Rainbow took agility classes when we lived in Butte. They were booted out of the class because Rainbow was uncooperative. One evening, three dogs, including Rainbow, got loose. It took 20 minutes to round them up. Alys and Rainbow continued to work on basic commands. Rainbow was eventually invited back in class, but shortly thereafter, resumed running off. That was the end of formal agility training. Informal agility training has continued, with Rainbow having some say about the rules. She likes the home course, and enjoys doing it at her bidding. She knows table, weave, sit, stay, and up ramp.
Once Alys and Pete went to Homer, where Rainbow spotted two loons. Of course, she jumped in the cold ocean water and began the chase. Alys feared she was a goner because she and the birds, which were playing with her head, drifted further and further away from shore. Rainbow finally began swimming for shore, but as Alys could tell, she was struggling. Once her feet were on shore, she shook uncontrollably. Alys and Rainbow were headed back in the direction of the campground when the dog turned and bolted back towards the water. Alys grabbed her collar, and in this way kept her from again going after the loons.
Alys has done clicker training with Rainbow. Rainbow would, if allowed, would be a car chaser. For this reason, Alys and Pete put in an invisible fence shortly after moving to Squalor Holler Rainbow has 2.5 acres to do as she pleases, so having the wire fence in place doesn’t seem to bother her.
Rainbow has a mind of her own, and so obeys the come command only when she feels like it. She doesn’t wander far, but won’t return to us if distracted. She likes to pull, so doing the halt thing works limitedly – Rainbow will sit or stand and watch whatever is going on around her. A sparrow or raven can keep her attention for up to five minutes. Saying “let’s go” and going in the opposite direction works for about three seconds. Using the clicker and treats works for about four seconds. Saying “focus,” having her look at the handler, and then reinforcing this behavior works for ten seconds.
Rainbow is going on the Divide Ride because this will make it all that much more interesting.