It was September, 2007, a year and a half since my exit from the military. I sat at my desk sifting through emails and noticed one with the subject: ‘The Amazing Skidboot.’ It was a forwarded email that I nearly deleted, but decided not to when considering that the sender, my father-in-law, would later quiz me on it. I clicked on the Youtube link. The first couple of minutes revealed to me nothing distinguishing this dog from any other who performed basic tricks like ‘fetch,’ but then something happened that caused me to scroll back and watch several times over. Skidboot’s owner, David Hartwig commanded his dog: "wave your left hand, wave your right hand, wave your left hand, now turn around, turn the other way, ease up on it, now touch it,” and without fail, Skidboot complied. It was then that I was convinced that this dog was, in fact, ‘amazing.’ By the end I was choked up and filled with inspiration. Growing up with favorite movies like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows, I said to myself, that’s a movie! and was sold on watching it in the theaters whenever it came out.
I then searched the internet for a release date expecting to see a Disney trailer but was surprised to find nothing. After forwarding the email to my friends, I went on with my life.
Two years later I received a newsletter with another link to the Skidboot story and watched again repeating the same sentiments. I again searched the internet for a movie trailer or Hollywood press release reporting the film’s release date. I was baffled after finding zilch. How was this possible?
In early 2011, I received yet another email with a link for Skidboot, searched the internet, same result. It was then that I decided to find out why a story so big would fizzle to so little. Evidently, no movie studio had picked it up. I called my good friend and fellow screenwriter, Guillermo Machado, and asked him if he would be willing to partner with me on the development of the Skidboot project. He expressed interest peppered with apprehension. Tongue-in-cheek, he said—suspecting my chances at slim to none—that if I could secure the story rights, he might commit.
I immediately searched for David Hartwig's number, and quickly realized he resided just outside of Dallas, Texas. I called and reached a voice-mail with David’s voice: "thanks for the call, leave a message." Within hours, he returned my call. I expressed my love for their story and how it begged for a theatrical release, then described how Guillermo and I authored a screenplay in 2000 that gained a lot of attention and how I had a deep desire to take a crack at drafting a movie script for Skidboot.
“Well, come on up then,” David replied.
The following weekend, I drove my two girls to the Hartwig ranch in Quinlan. We toured the grounds and Skidboot's burial site, beneath an old oak tree. We rode horses, fed calves and played with Skidboot’s offspring. By the end of the day, David and I shook hands, deciding to move forward with the development of the Skidboot project. Soon after, we wrote the script.
Fast forward two years, and here we are today. It has been a long road, littered with Starbucks coffees, conference calls, dinners, meetings, meetings about meetings along with all sorts of diverse obstacles. Over and again we were told "great story, but not commercial enough," and that has translated into the one constant that followed David and Skidboot throughout their lives: underdogs, without a shot in the dark, and yet, theirs has always been a story that resonated well with people, pet lovers or not, children and adults. Because of this, we felt it deserved to be shared with the rest of the world. And with that driving force, I would reach out to renowned Texas author, Cathy Luchetti, and within no time, she would express the same enthusiasm to join the Skidboot team. It has been our deepest privilege and honor to work with both her and David … only wish I could’ve met Skidboot.
—Joel Carpenter, Project Skidboot
Cathy Luchetti has written seven books on American history; three have won prestigious national awards: Women of the West, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award; Medicine Women, runner-up for the Willa Cather Award; Home on the Range, the James Beard Award, and The Hot Flash Cookbook, an international cookbook prize.
After college, Cathy joined the Peace Corps and lived for two years in remote villages in Colombia, South America. She has spoken frequently on NPR and been featured in several television documentaries.
Cathy enjoys backpacking, mountain scrambling and desert exploration. Her current books-in-progress focus on adventure, risk, and uncertainty. She lives in the Northern California with her husband Peter. Cathy’s humorous and informative talks have been popular around the country, including the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Nevada Humanities Council, the Junto Society and more.
Premise: Fame and Fortune is no substitute for love.
Synopsis: Every once in a lifetime something magical happens, something so special it leaves us breathless. And although we want it to last forever, we know that nothing ever does. In the early 1990's David Hartwig, a Texas cowboy with dreams of rodeo stardom, struggled to support his family and, in doing so, discovered a dog with talents he himself could never realize. Together with David, Skidboot shot to international fame, despite tumultuous events that nearly sent this rural family to the brink.
*Serious inquiries only please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org