Hollywood star Uggie hangs up his skateboard


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The Independent Culture

Some might wonder if the age of ten is a little early to be thinking about retirement. But friends of the up-and-coming Hollywood star known only as “Uggie” point out that it equates to at least fifty in dog years.

The Jack Russell terrier, who was propelled to fame by his critically-acclaimed role in The Artist, is therefore to hang up his collar and withdraw from show-business. Friends say he has grown weary of the physical demands of life in front of camera.

“I'm retiring him,” was how owner Omar Von Muller announced the sad news this week. "He may do a couple of little things here and there because he enjoys them, but I don't want to put him through long hours anymore. He's getting tired.”

It has certainly been a long, hard road. After being abandoned as a puppy by owners who thought him “too wild,” and adopted by Von Muller, a professional trainer, Uggie spent his early life earning a crust in a touring canine talent show.

He later won roles in a string of TV adverts, before moving into film. But early projects such as the TV movie Life is Ruff and the 2005 comedy Wassup Rockers failed to ignite. Box-office success didn’t come until last year, when he joined Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants.

It was Uggie’s touching performance as the faithful companion of fading silent film star George Valentin in The Artist that propelled him to celebrity, though. And the dog’s stunt double in the film, a brother called Dash, will now become the family’s chief breadwinner

“I think he (Uggie) will be fine with Dash stepping in,” Von Muller told Life & Style magazine. “Uggie is 10-years-old and has done a lot of work, so he wants to relax at home. If somebody wants to do a movie with Uggie, they’ll just have to deal with Dash.”

A noisy online campaign to have Uggie nominated for an Oscar has failed, since Academy rules only sanction awards for humans. However Von Muller hopes the dog will nonetheless be invited to next month’s ceremony, where his co-stars are nominated in ten categories. "They should give him an envelope to bring to [host] Billy Crystal," he added.