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updated: 10/22/2012 6:50 AM

Canine star of 'The Artist' visits Elgin, Naperville

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  • Uggie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, has appeared in several commercials and films, including 2011 Academy Award winner "The Artist." He lounges Sunday at the Elgin Sams Club on Randall Road while waiting for his fans.

       Uggie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, has appeared in several commercials and films, including 2011 Academy Award winner "The Artist." He lounges Sunday at the Elgin Sams Club on Randall Road while waiting for his fans.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Uggie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, has appeared in several commercials and films, including 2011 Academy Award winner "The Artist". He added his paw print to books and took photos with fans Sunday at the Elgin Sam's Club on Randall Road.

       Uggie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, has appeared in several commercials and films, including 2011 Academy Award winner "The Artist". He added his paw print to books and took photos with fans Sunday at the Elgin Sam's Club on Randall Road.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Trainer Omar Von Muller gets the attention of Uggie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier that has appeared in several commercials and films, including 2011 Academy Award winner "The Artist." He added his paw print to books and took photos with fans Sunday at the Elgin Sam's Club on Randall Road.

       Trainer Omar Von Muller gets the attention of Uggie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier that has appeared in several commercials and films, including 2011 Academy Award winner "The Artist." He added his paw print to books and took photos with fans Sunday at the Elgin Sam's Club on Randall Road.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 

While his long days on movie sets are over, retired canine actor Uggie is still in the spotlight, touring with his new book, "Uggie: My Story," "as barked to Wendy Holden."

He and his owner/trainer, Omar Von Muller, were at the Elgin Sam's Club Sunday where fans could get "pawtographed" copies of Uggie's memoir and photos with the Jack Russell terrier.

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When Uggie was a puppy, his owners decided he was just too hyper to keep around and decided to send him to the pound. Before they got the chance, Von Muller adopted him and turned him into a movie star.

"All the energy that he had is very common for Jack Russells," Von Muller said. "These dogs are very active and very hyper. They need a job."

Now 10 years old, Uggie followed up years of bit parts in television commercials and movies with an award-winning role in "The Artist," the film that took best picture at the 2011 Academy Awards. Uggie won the Palm Dog Award for best performance by a canine for his role.

Molly Sheahan, of Elgin, was shopping at the club Sunday with her 6-year-old daughter Ella and 4-year-old daughter Rebecca when Uggie showed up to greet his admirers. While the girls couldn't get over how cute the 17-pound dog was, Sheahan was impressed with his patience. The family was excited to get home with the signed copy of Uggie's story and read about his celebrity exploits.

"We met a star today," Sheahan said. "We feel very privileged."

Uggie lives with Von Muller's family and seven other dogs in Los Angeles. After the Chicago area stops, Uggie will head to France and the United Kingdom for more appearances -- flying first class with his own seat, of course.

Once Uggie's stardom dies down a bit, Von Muller plans to take him to schools and hospitals to entertain children and the elderly.

"To make people laugh," Von Muller said. "Because that's what he likes."

Uggie's future will be full of showing off his tricks and playing with his fans, but he'll also spread a serious message -- the importance of pet adoption. Von Muller said they always promote adoption wherever they go, discouraging people from buying animals from pet stores.

Uggie will be at Anderson's Bookshop Monday at 7 p.m. at 123 W. Jefferson Ave., in Naperville before leaving the Chicago area.

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