Jeff Clausen / Facebook
Cowboy cattle rancher Jeff Clausen was completely blown away after receiving $45,000 at an auction for this 3-year-old border collie named Skittles.
He had spent the last year training Skittles as a stock dog, meant to help ranchers move cattle, and brought her to the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale in California to show her off.
Skittles competed in the Red Bluff’s stock dog runs, showing off her skills and incredible ability to drive a herd of cattle into a pen, or pick a single animal from the group all from following one of Jeff’s whistles and voice commands.
She came in fifth place out of 17 dogs that were competing. After the competition was over, she went on to be put up for auction where buyers looking for valuable ranch hands bid on dogs.
“When we walked in there, the aura of the whole place just changed,” he told the Idaho Statesman. “Everyone started screaming and whooping.”
Jeff said he figured he’d get about $8,000 to $9,000 for Skittles and was totally shocked when the bidding war started over the pup.
“I lost my mind at $23,000,” Jeff said. “I didn’t even know what was going on.”
When the auctioneer yelled “Sold!” for $45,000 and slammed his gavel on the podium, the crowd went nuts, cheering and clapping. The bidding war broke the Red Bluff stock dog sale record set by Jeff and another red border collie, Gurdy, back in 2018 at $30,000.
What’s crazy is the other four dogs that ranked higher than her in the competition only sold for between 6,000 and $11,000. Jeff credited the sale to Skittles winning over her new owners Neal and Andrea Siller, with her bubbly, affectionate personality.
“She was extremely loving, and you could tell she was going to be a family dog,” Andrea said. “He [Neal] looked up at me and was like, ‘She’s coming home with us.’”
Jeff added, “In Red Bluff, they want a dog that gets ahead and stops cattle hard. She wasn’t that dog. She wasn’t the strongest dog in the competition, but she had the strongest personality.”
Although he doesn’t consider himself a dog trainer, Jeff believes it’s his training techniques that set his dogs apart from the others. Each year he trains just one dog and brings it with him every day to work on the feedlot he manages.
He says that too much socializing will spoil a working dog but he’s learned that friendly dogs with a personality are what people want.
“It used to be these cowdogs were tools,” Jeff said. “They’re not tools anymore, and I think today’s society wants a pet at the same time as they want a partner to work with.”
Neal and Andrea Siller’s family runs a small Texas longhorn ranching operation in Penn Valley, California. They were looking for a dog that would help move their herd of about 100 cattle across their 8,000 acres of land but would not bite and potentially injure them.
“We were calling in friends to help (move cattle),” Andrea said. “We anticipate with Skittles working with us that we’re not going to need to do that anymore.”
When they saw how carefully she moved cattle during the stock dog runs and got the chance to meet her before the auction, they had fallen in love and their hearts were set.
“She has fit in absolutely perfectly with our family,” Andrea said. “She’s living the spoiled life now” playing with the 12 other dogs the family owns.