It’s not everyday an international star of film and screen licks your face. This particular day however, I was lucky enough to be covered in the slobber of one Hollywood’s favourite hounds – Uggie.
As we reported last week, the once pound bound hound has penned his biography (with a little help from author Wendy Holden), charting the trials and tribulations of his eventful career. From his days of small parts in B-movies and commercials to the dizzy heights of Oscar winning film – The Artist, Uggie has seen it all and perfected his art form along the way. A true thespian, Uggie has rubbed shoulders with George Clooney, kissed Reese Witherspoon (his one true love) and won the Palm Dog Award at the Cannes Film festival. It’s fair to say his life is far more interesting than mine.
I stole some time with the Uggster on his book tour (fresh from Paris if you don’t mind), along with his trainer and owner Omar von Muller and his co-author, Wendy Holden to find out a big more about the dog that’s stolen a thousand hearts (and sausages).
SyleTails: It must have been an interesting writing process. How did you get inside Uggie’s head and what did you find in there?
Wendy Holden: Lots of sausages! No seriously, I’ve been a dog owner all my life and when I saw Uggie in The Artist, I knew has was an absolute star. I was born to write his biography. We really wanted to channel the inner Uggie and do justice to all the amazing things that have happened in his life – all 70 dog years of it! I worked with Omar to fill in the gaps and used lots of footage and photos of him over the years to tell his story.
ST: Uggie didn’t crack the big time until he was in his twighlight years. Did you ever think of packing it in and pursuing another career for him?
Omar Von Muller: No way. I knew he was special and the kind of dog that could handle an entire film on his own. We just had to wait for the right opportunity but never in our dreams did we think it would end being this big.
ST: What advice would you give to hopeful hounds in Hollywood?
UGGIE: Never give up! I had plenty of rejection but you have to keep going. When you’re on set, you also need to be patient with the humans. Whenever a scene goes wrong it’s usually down to the human, but they can’t all be one take wonders like me I guess.
ST: What has been your proudest moment?
UGGIE: It has to be the Oscars. From the beginning we had no idea how big the film would turn out to be and then there we were mixing with Hollywood. I remember waiting to go on and all of a sudden we were called. Meryl Streep was being interviewed and we were like ‘sorry Meryl!’ and pushed right past her to get out there in the spotlight!
ST: Uggie gave such an accomplished performance in the Artist that the ‘Consider Uggie’ campaign was launched urging the Academy to consider him for an honorary Oscar. Are you disappointed they didn’t award him with one?
OVM: Uggie’s always been an Oscar winner in our home and he doesn’t need a trophy to prove it. In our hearts, he won the Oscar.
ST: Why do you think Uggie is so loveable?
WH: Uggie gives hope the rescue dogs. He was bound for the pound before Omar rescued him and trained him into the star he is today. He also gives hope to aspiring actors. He didn’t get his big break until he was nearly 70 in dog years and a perfect example of hard work and persistence.
ST: Uggie was headed for the pound before you rescued him. What would you say to people who are considering getting a dog?
OVM: Rescue dogs are really in trouble. A lot of them will end up being euthanised and it’s up to us to give them a second chance. If you do adopt, it’s your responsibility to train the dog and understand its needs so it doesn’t end up headed for the pound again. The most important thing is education. You need to teach the dog what it’s supposed to be doing, lay down the rules and spend time with them everyday. If you don’t have the time to devote to the dog, then you should think twice before getting one.
ST: Do you think it’s wrong to spoil dogs?
OVM: No, you can spoil your dog all you like. Let them sleep on the bed and eat from the table if you want, but you have to train them first to understand the rules so when you tell them to stop or give a command, they follow. All this wolf-pack stuff is nonsense – none of the wolves in the pack actually like the pack leader. They think he’s an a*sehole. You want to share your life with your dogs, love them and occasionally spoil them – you can still do that and do that with obedience and good training. It has to be the right balance.
ST: You’ve had a long and eventful career. How will you be spending your retirement?
UGGIE: I’ll be doing a lot of relaxing and spending time visiting hospitals, playing with children and making people smile. I’ll also be continuing my work to help rescue dogs like me.
ST: And finally, tell us what is happening with Miss Witherspoon. Have you finally conquered her heart!?
UGGIE: Ahhhh Reese. She’s just had a baby with her new husband so I’m a little jealous to be honest. I see how happy she is though which makes me happy.
Uggie – We lick you! x
Uggie’s Book – Uggie The Artist: My Story is published by Harper Collins in the UK and is available now at www.amazon.co.uk