“Uggie! Uggie! Look here! Over here!,” photographers called out to the canine star of “The Artist,” as he worked the red carpet at a special screening of the HBO documentary, “One Nation Under Dog: Stories of Fear, Loss & Betrayal,” Wednesday night at the Lighthouse in Manhattan.
Uggie pranced, pawed and strutted. Wearing an elegant, black bowtie, Uggie wasn’t so interested in the photographers. His eyes followed the treats owner and trainer Omar von Muller pulled out of a little red pouch. The crowd, crammed against the ropes, “Oohed” and “Aahed” at Uggie’s every move.
“Uggie is definitely the star of the show tonight,” said “One Nation” director Amanda Micheli. “Like nobody gives a crap about the director. It’s all about Uggie. I’m all for it. I don’t mind.”
Once in a while Mr. Muller picked Uggie up and handed him to a pretty woman. Uggie licked their faces.
One of those pretty women was Georgina Bloomberg, the mayor’s daughter. The experienced Equestrian told us she’s also an animal advocate and owns five rescue dogs. (Her father has two dogs.) At one point she looked over at Mr. von Muller, who gave Uggie a hand command, and then Uggie did his signature swan-lake move from the “The Artist,” where he bent over and covered his eyes with his paws. “I could definitely use that trainer for some of my dogs,” Ms. Bloomberg said.
We asked Sheila Nevins, the savy President of HBO Documentary Films, how they got Uggie to attend.
“We paid for him to come,” she said. “We knew this was not a show dog,” she said, pointing to her own dog, Bogie, an adorable and winning bichon mix, who like most dogs, can’t hop on his hind legs like the Uggster. His fee, Ms. Nevins said, was not “reprehensible” because Uggie is also a rescue dog.
Mr. von Muller told us Uggie’s story, which was that his family was ready to surrender him to a shelter because they couldn’t handle him any more. “He was way too crazy. He wanted to kill cats and do every bad thing that a Jack Russell wants to do, so I picked him up, took him home,” he said. “We’ve had him for almost 10 years, and he’s a member of our family, and a great movie star.”
What turned Uggie around was obedience training.
“It was actually pretty simple, pretty much what he needed was work. He needed to do something. That’s what Jack Russells are all about. He still wanted to chase cats but slowly he got used to it,” he said. “We have three cats at home and he’s fine with them. Sometimes he’ll chase them around but he won’t kill them or anything.” Good thing, we told Mr. von Muller, or it would kill Uggie’s good-dog image.