Uggie, the dog star of The Artist, spent the day on which his film received 10 Oscar nominations on the observation deck of the Empire State Building after shooting a segment for Today. Eighty-six stories above ground, photographers took their shots as the dog stood on its hind legs, rolled on the ground, and—riskiest, perhaps, for a small Jack Russell terrier on a breezy day—rode a skateboard. He hadn’t had to skateboard in The Artist, in which he cavorts and shows off a cutie-pie personality that overshadows his human counterparts. “Work it!” shouted one photographer. “Over the shoulder!” True to form, not a single photographer felt they’d gotten enough from Uggie when they were escorted downstairs.
“Uggie was snubbed by the Oscars—how do you feel about that?” asked a reporter from 1010 WINS, whose assistant was so nauseated by the altitude that the interview had to be reshot, in exactly the same manner. Uggie’s trainer, Omar von Muller, was himself well-trained, and responded to each of the reporter’s questions patiently, including the question/statement, “Oooh, I just want to pet him!”
The Transom edged up to the safety railing to interrogate Mr. von Muller. “He knows that he’s getting a lot of attention,” said Mr. von Muller, but the attention had not made training Uggie more difficult. “It’s always been part of his training, to socialize a lot.”
At age 9, Uggie is getting up there in years—past credits include this year’s Water for Elephants (for which he received one of his two Golden Collar nominations this year) and Larry Clark’s Wassup Rockers. “He’s pretty much in his retirement,” said Mr. von Muller. “I’ll let him do little things, but not long hours anymore.” Uggie was snuffling gently in Mr. von Muller’s arms, asleep. We badly wanted to ask him how he’d gotten here and what he made of it all, but we already knew the answer. (“Woof!”)
By the time we reached solid ground, Mr. von Muller was already setting Uggie up on a skateboard to the delight of passersby who knew him only as a cute dog.