By Linda Cole
Skidboot became famous as the World’s Smartest Dog because of his amazing tricks. However, this is not the story of Skidboot and his wonderful bag of tricks. This is a story about mutual respect, understanding and love that transformed a bored and out-of-control dog into the World’s Smartest Dog.
I spoke with Skidboot’s owner, David Hartwig, and found a heartwarming story about unconditional love shared by a man and his dog. We like to think we train our dogs, but dogs can also teach us a little bit about ourselves and life.
David resides in Quinlan, Texas and lives the modest life of a farrier (a specialist in hoof care who trims, balances and shoes horse). It’s hard work and takes a steady hand and a gentle, calm demeanor around the horses. On Christmas Eve in 1992, David was working on his friend’s horses when he noticed a litter of pups in the barn. “I didn’t think you liked dogs,” David said to his friend. “I don’t. This stray female blue heeler came over here on Thanksgiving and started dropping puppies all over the yard. So I just picked them up and put them in the barn.” David hadn’t gotten his wife a Christmas present yet and decided a puppy would be perfect, so he picked one out and headed home.
Sometimes things happen in life we can’t always explain – a gut feeling that causes you to change your mind. David was half way home when he had second thoughts about the pup he had chosen. He turned around and went back to the barn. That’s when he picked out a pup standing by himself away from the other ones. At the time, David had no idea how that puppy was going to change his life.
Skidboot’s mom was a Blue Heeler, but the breed of his father was unknown. He was named after a protective boot horses wear on their hind legs to protect the area above and behind the hoof during activities like barrel racing. Skidboot was a natural at working on the ranch with David. “He did his job. He did it perfect and I didn’t have to teach him.”