LESLIE CRISS: An Oscar for Uggie should be seriously considered

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“Dogs travel hundreds of miles during their lifetime responding to such commands as ‘come’ and ‘fetch.’”
– Stephen Baker

“Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.”
– Corey Ford
My dog George enjoys watching television from time to time. I’d love to tell you of his good taste in programming, but truth is, it’s the sound that first catches his attention. And he’s drawn to his own kind – the canine kind.
If he hears barking, he begins to watch the screen, intently searching for the source of the sound.
I wanted to take him with me to the movie last week to see “The Artist,” a delightful film that’s received multiple Academy Award nominations.
There’s an amazing actor in the film I wanted my George, a Jack Russell mix, to see. The movie star’s name is Uggie and, as far as I’m concerned, he steals many of the show’s scenes.
Uggie plays Jack. You might remember him also as Queenie in the movie “Water for Elephants.”
Uggie and my George look alike. But Uggie, though plucked from a pound as a puppy, possesses something my George does not: a pedigree. He’s a Jack Russell. Full-blooded.
Anyway, I was unable to take George to the Malco because dogs aren’t allowed. Even if George had been admitted, though, he likely would not have paid much attention to the movie since, well, it’s silent.
When the movie makes it to DVD, I’ll give it a whirl to see if George will watch Uggie even if he can’t hear Uggie.
I’d love to be able to tell George that Uggie has been nominated for an Oscar. I’d love for Uggie to win one of those gold statuettes. But it’s not happening.
Oh, it’s not because folks haven’t tried. The great actor James Cromwell, who played the owner of “Babe” the pig and is a player in “The Artist,” has taken on trying to convince the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to install a special Oscar for animals in film.
My question would be – why hasn’t that been done already?
What about Terry, the Cairn terrier who played Toto in “The Wizard of Oz?” Or Skippy the wire-haired terrier, who was Asta in the long-ago “Thin Man” films? Or Moose and his son Enzo who both woofed it up in “My Dog Skip” before crossing over to TV as Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier in “Frasier?”
And let’s not forget the felines, equines, dolphins and other animals in film through the years.
Imagine some of the movies we’ve all loved – or not – that have had amazing animal actors. And they’ve been neglected, snubbed by the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Academy Awards and others.
According to Oscar lore, back in 1929, the premiere year for the awards, a German shepherd who played the role of a dog named Rin Tin Tin gained the most votes for Best Actor. The award, however, went to a human being.
I, for one, think it’s past time the folks in charge of the Academy Awards pay homage to the animals who’ve enriched our lives through film.
This year, I’d cast one vote for Uggie.
And my dog George would second that.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com