A daily bulletin of news & opinion

12 January 2012

Have you seen the film The Artist? You know, the one with the cute dog in it? Yes, it’s also the silent film that’s in black and white. Yes, it stars handsome Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. But oh, that dog, he’s so adorable.

Have you seen the bit where he pretends to look ashamed? Or what about when he runs to the rescue? The dog in question is called Uggie and he’s a nine-year-old Jack Russell with winning ways. His performance has enchanted so many people that there are demands he should be allowed to be nominated for an Oscar.

It’s a campaign that is unlikely to succeed despite his trotting out on the publicity trail. At the Cannes Film Festival he was awarded a Palm Dog but his scene stealing antics have not won over the Oscar authorities.

And perhaps they shouldn’t. We need to keep a little perspective. You have to be careful of the point where dogs, well, stop being dogs.

No, I am not being hard-hearted. Just over a year ago my dog, a Weimaraner who could have snacked on little Uggie, died. It was the middle of the night when Bruno woke me up and in the time it took me to stand up he had had a heart attack and gone. At three in the morning it’s hard to go to sleep with a body the size of a man next to you, so I took him to our 24-hour vet. I loved Bruno, he knew me. We had 12 years together and we got each other. But he was a dog.

The vets, it turned out, had a room where I could spend some time ‘with the body’. I could choose a casket. I could decide where to have his ashes scattered. I am sure I could have hired a carriage drawn by horses with black feathers sprouting from their heads to take him to his grave. I didn’t. And I didn’t need the number of the counsellor offered.

When you are in Japan visit a pet store and you’ll be faced with rows of dog prams, dresses for poodles and doggie trousers. Funny at first glance but if you want a baby get to it, don’t disguise a pug as a child (although of course there are many babies that look like bulldogs in bonnets).

Dogs are dogs and Uggie doesn’t care if he gets an award. A reward maybe, especially if it is bone-shaped and tasty. But Oscars cannot be thrown and fetched and are not nice to chew. So Uggie can cope without.


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