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09 December 2023

Campaign heats up for pet Oscar award

Uggie the dog poses with the Best Movie award at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California. A growing pack of fans are howling for Uggie to get a sniff at the Oscars after the Jack Russell stole the show in the silent movie "The Artist" that scooped a slew of Golden Globe awards. (AFP)


A growing pack of fans is howling for Uggie the terrier to get a sniff at the Oscars after the Jack Russell stole the show in the silent movie "The Artist" that scooped a slew of Golden Globe awards.
The nine-year-old mutt last year took the unofficial Palm Dog prize at Cannes for his role in the French-directed movie that won best musical/comedy, best musical/comedy actor and best musical score in Sunday's Golden Globes.
It is time, say his many supporters across the world, for animals like Uggie, who was heading for a grim fate in an animal shelter before his trainer saved him, to be eligible for an Oscar.
Steven Spielberg has joined the campaign, even if his hopes are more equine than canine as he has his sights on a gong for the role of Joey, an English horse caught up in the horrors of battle in his latest movie "War Horse".
"Consider Uggie" is the name of the Facebook and Twitter campaign for an Oscar nomination for the dog so he can take his place among the two-legged acting fraternity at the January 24 Oscar awards in Los Angeles.
Uggie, who previously starred in "Water for Elephants " and "Mr. Fix It", made no comment when he joined "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius on the stage to pick up the prizes at the Globes ceremony in Los Angeles.
Billed as a tribute to the silent movie era, the black-and-white film tells the story of silent star George Valentin (played by French actor Jean Dujardin) whose career is torpedoed by the arrival of the talkies.
The film is tipped to scoop the best picture award at the Oscars.
Uggie has no chance to display his vocal range in the silent film, but he does get to show off his ability to play dead, walk on his hind legs and bury his head in his paws. He even saves George Valentin from a burning house.
The Californian-born terrier's skateboarding and waterskiing abilities can be seen on Internet videos.
The BBC interviewed him when he visited Britain last week on a promotional tour but he responded only with a bark when asked if he thought that what he was doing was really acting.
His trainer, however, told the broadcaster that claims that his dog was only doing it for sausages were false.
"He is a real actor, I don't care what anybody says. He deserves an Oscar more than anybody I know," said Oscar Von Muller.
Toby Rose, the organiser of the annual Palm Dog prize at the Cannes film festival, denounced what he called the "outrageous dogism" that was stopping Uggie from getting a shot at the Oscars.
He noted that "the homeland of this Gallic production has recognised the plucky pooch in the French equivalent of the Golden Globes, the Lumieres."
There are of course some dissenting voices.
"Giving Oscars to animals is a beastly idea," was the headline on Monday of a tongue-in-cheek editorial in Britain's The Independent newspaper.
"The Oscar recipient is supposed to sob while delivering a rambling homily to all the wonderful people who helped them to stardom. Until animals can show they can master that key skill, the case for animal Oscars cannot be said to be proven," it said.