David Hartwig admits there’ll probably never be another Skidboot, but his show goes on wherever he’s invited with three dogs and a horse.
“They entertain in Skidboot’s tradition,” Hartwig said Saturday after a program in Greenville. “They are friends of Skidboot.”
Skidboot, a Blue Healer mix, is best known for winning the $25,000 championship on Animal Planet TV network’s Pet Star competition in 2003. The title led to appearances on the Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman and Jay Leno television shows.
Skidboot died in 2007. Hartwig and Skidboot had performed together since 1994.
Today, his show features a horse named Cheyenne and three dogs — Tie-Down, Bois d’Arc and Little Skidboot. Little Skidboot is not related to the famous Skidboot, Hartwig said.
Hartwig and the “friends of Skidboot” entertained children Saturday who were attending Camp Lone Star at the Audie Murphy-American Cotton Museum.
Hartwig, a Quinlan horseshoer and former rodeo performer, is serious about his life as an entertainer.
“This means everything to me,” Hartwig said of the program he presents to young audiences like the one in Greenville. “How lucky can a guy get, to get to have an influence on the future of our country.”
Part of Hartwig’s message focuses on encouragement.
“I think encouragement is everything. Kindness is everything, just being nice,” Hartwig said.
He also throws in something for adults.
While one of the dogs was performing, he urged the kids to encourage him with — not applause — but “apaws.”
“Most of this is for the kids, but some of it is for y’all,” Hartwig said to the adults who were standing by watching and photographing the event.
Hartwig said he doesn’t preach to the kids and he never practices for his next performance.
“I never practice at home,” he said. “I got more practice and training right here today than I have all week at home.”
A favorite trick involves the dogs responding on the count of three. Hartwig counted, “One, two...” Then, he threw in several unrelated numbers. The dogs responded, but only after they heard “Three.”
Later, Hartwig placed a doggie treat on the ground in front of each dog. Then, Hartwig began to pray. The dogs looked at their doggie treats and they appeared to be a little restless, but they didn’t grab their doggie treat until Hartwig said, “Amem.”
Hartwig has presented programs in 38 states. Now, Hartwig said, he “makes about three stops a month.” He welcomes the opportunity to make presentations to any age group.
“I like to make it fun,”Hartwig said of his programs he’s presented since 1994. “I’ve learned a lot.”