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The Amazing Skidboot: The ‘World’s Smartest Dog’ [VIDEO]

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The Amazing Skidboot: The 'World's Smartest Dog

David Hartwig, a farrier from Quinlan, Texas was busy trimming horses for a client on Christmas Eve in 1992. As he worked, he noticed a litter of puppies in the barn. Hartwig and his stepson chose one of the puppies as a last minute Christmas gift for Hartwig’s wife Barbara. They named him Skidboot. When Hartwig began training the dog, he quickly realized Skidboot was more than just man’s best friend; he was the world’s smartest dog.

Barbara treated her new dog like her only child and spoiled Skidboot, creating an entitled family pet. After several incidents of Skidboot misbehaving, Hartwig threatened to get rid of the dog. Instead, he started training Skidboot and teaching him manners. The dog soon became extremely obedient and learned several tricks. If Skidboot didn’t understand a command, Hartwig would show him by acting it out with the dog.

“He changed into this remarkable animal that would just pick up anything and learn any trick,” Hartwig said. “Then he became my life.”

As Skidboot perfected his tricks, Hartwig would show guests who came over. He didn’t realize it at the time, but this is how Skidboot grew to love performing. Many people asked what type of dog he was, but Hartwig wasn’t sure. However, he knew the dog was special and brought people happiness.

“His mother was a Blue Heeler. We don’t know his daddy so we say part Blue Heeler and part gift from God,” Hartwig said. “Then I got to thinking about the word ‘heeler.’ Not only does he heel cattle, but he heals you on the inside and makes you feel better.”

After roughly a year, word spread about Skidboot, and he began performing at rodeos. Hartwig and Skidboot were also asked to perform at the Texas State Fair, where they became regulars. Soon, Skidboot was attracting the attention of media outlets and performing for audiences around the country.

Skidboot stole America’s heart and became known as the All-American dog. He could throw away trash in the trash can and kneel down to say his prayers. He smiled and performed multiple other tricks on television shows such as Good Morning Texas, Inside Edition, The David Letterman Show, The Jay Leno Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

When Skidboot was kicked in the head by a horse, he received cards, letters and prayers from fans around the country. Skidboot was near death for a week. Three months later, he made a miraculous recovery and was performing once again.

Near the end of Skidboot’s life, he was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Skidboot stayed active and continued to perform as long as he could. On March 25, 2007, Skidboot passed away at the age of 14. His legacy is remembered by Hartwig and fans around the country.

“I treated Skidboot just like I would any other person,” Hartwig said. “I would get letters and cards from people thanking me for teaching them about love, patience, understanding, forgiveness, and showing them about relationships. It took on a life of its own, and I realized there was something else going on besides a dog doing tricks. I got to meet Oprah, I was in limousines in Beverly Hills, California – with my dog. I’m the luckiest cowboy ever.”

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