My life as a dog – the book they all want to read

Two new celebrity pet memoirs join a growing list of canine autobiographies

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Just as with their human counterparts, there is now an obvious arc charting the life of the celebrity animal: the star turn in a film or TV series, the interviews and adverts, the calendars and magazine spreads and, finally, the tell-all autobiography.

This week, two animal "autobiographies" become the latest in a publishing phenomenon that began seven years ago: Pudsey, the incredible dancing dog and winner of this year's Britain's Got Talent, and Uggie, whose turn in the Oscar-winning film The Artist won him the Palm Dog Award at Cannes in 2011.

Pudsey's owner, 17-year-old Ashleigh Butler, is said to have signed a £100,000 deal with Orion for Pudsey's autobiography, and the dog has already flown over to LA at the behest of Simon Cowell. According to a recent feature in Hello! magazine, Pudsey employs an entourage of six bodyguards and carers.

The publication in 2005 of Marley and Me, about journalist John Grogan and his family's experiences with their pet Labrador, made clear the public appetite for animal stories. The book sold six million copies and was made into a film starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson.

Cassius: The True Story of a Courageous Police Dog has sold almost 100,000 copies since it was published in 2010, and Terry, the story of the dog who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz, has sold 450,000 copies. And it's not just dogs who write their memoirs. Cats, monkeys and even tortoises have told their life stories.

Here we speak to six celebrity dogs and hear their side of the tail.

Pudsey's story – as yet unnamed , 2012

Despite numerous calls to Simon Cowell's personal office, we were unable to secure an interview with Pudsey, who since winning Britain's Got Talent, has become one of the most sought-after celebrities in the country. Escorted at all times by at least three security guards, and insured for £1m, Pudsey has been signed up for a £350,000 deal for his "bi-dog-graphy". According to tabloid reports, Pudsey recently came out as gay, and is now holed up with a team of minders and writers, who say the book will be a "paws and all" exposé. His dancing partner, 17-year-old Ashleigh Butler, admits he has become somewhat diva-ish, demanding steak dinners every day. Cowell said after Pudsey's victory that "my life's work is now complete". If only that were true.

Buster's Diaries, 2008

Buster was a mixed-breed rescue dog adopted by the Labour politician Roy Hattersley, who got his owner into trouble for attacking a goose in St James's Park. He told us:

"To borrow from the late George Mallory, I did it because it was there. I was merely acting in self-defence. How could I have known that the goose belonged to the Queen? Roy was fined £25 for letting me off the lead, which he tried to make me pay, saying I had slipped the lead, but I've always maintained he let me off. I did cough up the £50 fine for killing the damn thing."

My Life As a Dog by Moose, 2000

Moose the Jack Russell played Eddie Crane in the sitcom Frasier.

"Acting, I soon discovered, is all about less, not more. My big break came just six months after I started training, when I simply stared at Kelsey Grammer. Yup, just a long hard stare, and I got the job. Don't ask me why, but they all fell about laughing. From then on, I found acting was a walk in the park, or a stroll round the set! Occasionally, I would have to lick one of the actors, but I would do it only if they put sardine oil on first. "

I, Toto – 2001

In a rare interview before her death in 1945, Terry, the Cairns terrier star of The Wizard of Oz, said this:

"Ah was the original pooch starlet. Ah was a legend of the 1930s. Ah did all my own stunts, yes sirree. Ah was paid $125 a week, more than many humans. Born during the Great Depression in 1933, ah did a lot of doggy do-dos indoors, so ah was frequently abandoned. Then the great pet trainer Carl Spitz took me in, and ah made more than 10 movies, starring with Shirley Temple, Spencer Tracy and Judy Garland. Ma biggest break came in The Wizard of Oz – literally! Some bungling hobo trod on ma foot and broke it, forcing me to spend two weeks resting. But ah spent it at home with Judy Garland, and we became best buddies."

Triggs – The story of Roy Keane's Dog, 2012

After Triggs passed away from cancer this year, Irish sports journalist Paul Howard ghost-wrote her memoirs. Before she died, she told The IoS:

"I won't deny it – I was Roy's rock. I was there when Roy was unfairly sent home from the World Cup in 2002 by Ireland manager Mick McCarthy. For days we walked and walked, sometimes followed by the press, who I would growl at. Roy loved me because, as he famously said, 'Unlike humans, dogs don't talk shit.' I did occasionally eat some, because I'm a Labrador, and then I would bounce up and like his lovely cross face. Nobody knows Roy like I do."

Uggie – My Story (out next week)

"I always knew The Artist would be a hit, which is why I agreed to make time for it in my hectic schedule. But I never got why it had to be silent. No way will I be muzzled, I barked! I've got a story to tell. Today, when I look in the mirror, I see a good-looking Jack Russell terrier, a Hollywood legend adored by millions around the world. Many first saw me in 2006 in Mr Fix It, a movie I know will one day get the recognition it deserves. And some say my appearance in Water for Elephants in 2011 deserved an Oscar. But you know, life is a box of Bonio. It sure wasn't easy for me growing up: I was a crazy pup, way too much for my first two 'owners'. I owe it all to leading animal trainer Omar Van Muller, who spotted my talent, and saved me from the dog pound. The rest, as they say, is history. Fans may feel they know me from my Twitter account, but in my book I will be revealing all about my work as Nintendo's first ever spokesdog and that appearance on Graham Norton's show. And, of course, I'll be telling all about life on set on The Artist. Nobody muzzles Uggie!"