It's Uggie's Time to Shine
PLACE IN THE SUN
There are no two ways about it: Uggie has had a remarkable year in the spotlight. The unexpected breakout star of Oscar-nominated film The Artist has been heralded for his charm, good looks and, of course, his talent.
SIGN OF ARRIVAL
As a veritable celebrity, Uggie has caused other Hollywood notables – like Tilda Swinton and George Clooney – to become starstruck around him.
Sadly, after a long career in show business, Uggie will soon be retiring, according to his trainer, Omar Von Muller. “He’s done a lot of work in his life and I really don’t want to put him through so much long hours anymore,” he tells PEOPLE.
LIVIN' THE GOOD LIFE
Uggie’s golden years will be filled with lots of time outside and sunning by the pool. “You have to let them be dogs, too,” Von Muller says. “It’s not all about just work.”
CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION
Uggie (seen here at the Golden Globes) was rumored to be a performer at this year’s Oscars, but it turned out to be just that: a rumor. Still, he’s had plenty of other red carpet moments this year.
“Uggie’s actually not that different from the dog in the movie,” says Von Muller. “He’s my buddy. We go out, we perform tricks. We have a great time. In the movie, that’s what he’s doing with [Jean Dujardin]: He’s being his partner.”
The 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier traveled from his L.A. home to New York City – in coach! – to make the media rounds, including an up-close-and-personal Jan. 23 appearance with Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen.
CLAIM TO FAME
Once a rambunctious puppy, Uggie was given up by a Florida family who couldn’t handle his energy. “He was just born to be a showman,” says dog trainer Sarah Clifford, Von Muller’s business partner.
(a dog lover!) was captivated by his canine costar in 2011’s Water for Elephants, but reports that he wanted to buy Uggie are untrue, says Von Muller. But, he adds, “They had a really good bond together. They just really clicked.”
“He kind of took over the Golden Globes red carpet,” Von Muller says of Uggie, whom he describes as a “natural.” “Everybody was taking pictures with him, a lot of celebrities.”
TAKE A BOW
Getting Uggie to play bashful like he did in the film is a lot tougher than it looks. Von Muller encourages the pooch to bow his head by sneaking treats underneath his paw.
Before his superstar turn in The Artist, Uggie spent years appearing in commercials for beer, dog food and – you guessed it! – cars. Has the sudden rush of fame gone to his head? “I think he is turning into a little bit of a diva,” says Von Muller. “Sometimes he’s looking away from the camera, like, ‘Leave me alone!’”
LEND ME YOUR EAR
Uggie whispers sweet nothings to Extra host Maria Menounos during an interview. “He’s responded to the spotlight quite well,” says Von Muller. “As long as he gets his treats, he’s fine.”
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND
What a performer! Uggie wows a crowd at New York’s Empire State Building with his skateboarding skills.
The dapper canine was a guest on Today the morning his movie was nominated for Oscars in 10 categories. But even with all the attention, Uggie is still just a dog. “He likes to get into the trash, believe it or not, being a Hollywood star,” says Von Muller.
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
Von Muller says that , above in Water for Elephants, fell hard for Uggie and his canine pal, bulldog Popeye, who also worked on the film. “She’s a total animal person,” he says.