|Death: ||Mar., 2007|
It was Christmas Eve 1992 when David Hartwig was shoeing horses for a nearby ranch. A stray dog had had puppies in the ranch owner's barn. The ranch's owner offered Mr. Hartwig a last-minute Christmas present for his wife.
Mr. Hartwig came home with his second pick - a male puppy. He called him Skidboot, a name that refers to a cover used to prevent horses' hooves from sliding.
The puppy, which was half Australian cattle dog and half Heinz 57, initially was unruly. Neighbors began complaining that he was chasing livestock and pets. Mr. Hartwig said in later interviews that he almost gave Skidboot away -- the dog needed a job, that was for sure. He decided that the thing to do was keep the dog's mind occupied by teaching him tricks.
The rest, as they say, is history.
He taught the dog increasingly intricate tricks - including the signature "stuffed-ball trick."
Mr. Hartwig would tell Skidboot to grab the ball on the count of three. While Skidboot waited in suspense with his nose poised a mere inch above the ball, his owner would count "one ... two ..." and then throw out a long series of unrelated numbers, until casually adding "three" - and Skidboot would instantly sink his teeth into the stuffed ball.
Skidboot began performing tricks for local schools, as well as the Texas State Fair. He had a real knack for public performance and seemed to love an audience. It was clear to see that there was a strong bond between this highly intuitive dog and his humble owner. Mr. Hartwig was quick to give the dog credit for everything. At times one got the feeling he was just a sort of haphazard passenger on the dog's road to fame.
Skidboot went on to win the $25,000 championship on Animal Planet TV nework's Pet Star competition in 2003. That title led to appearances on the Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman and Jay Leno TV shows.
What was perhaps most appealing of all about this duo was the nonpretentious way in which they presented themselves. David Hartwig had an air of sincerity about him that was completely disarming. Thanks to Skidboot, "I got to meet Oprah." He added that the chances of that were mighty slim, for "someone like me."
Despite his national accolades, Skidboot continued his work as a ranch dog, accompanying Mr. Hartwig to work in his job as a farrier. In 2005, the dog was kicked in the head by a horse and blinded in one eye. His health began to decline after that.
Finally, on a Sunday morning in March 2007, Skidboot was unable to raise his head, and his owners made the decision to have him euthanized.
Mr. Hartwig is raising puppies, and has trained several other cattle dogs to take on tour. But Mrs. Hartwig said they had no plans to replace Skidboot as a personal pet.
"There was only one Skidboot," she said.
Created by: Anna Stangeland
Record added: Dec 19, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 32283378
Added by: Anonymous
Added by: Anonymous
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