After being the delighted beneficiaries of a
charity screening of The
Artist, we were bowled over
at meeting the canine star of the Oscar-winning film. Uggie, an utter charmer
on-screen and off, is today launching his autobiography - Uggie, the Artist: My Story - in the
UK. We're very
excited to be able to share a special guest post (bark?) from the world famous
JRT, as well as announcing an amazing
competition for all Dogs
How I Learned to Skateboard - by Uggie
Some might say that I was born a star. Others would suggest that I was trained to become one, but having been rescued from a pound by a Hollywood acting coach I was destined to make the most of my dog years.
My new ‘dad’, Omar Von Muller, trained me up for street theatre. Before long, though, he sensed that I could go further. Little did he know how far!
With Omar, training is all about one step at a time, so – once I’d mastered basic agility skills, he decided to teach me how to skateboard. “Uggie was a born actor.” He said later. “I just didn’t know how much of a red carpet darling he’d become!”
Omar began by feeding my all my meals by hand and I mean from his hands. “There’s a good muchacho,” he’d say as I chomped on some chicken.
Then he got me the right tool for the job, a skateboard perfect for my height and weight. It had to be light, strong and smooth to ride. “Go top of the line on wheels, trucks, ball bearings and boards,” he advises. “It makes a big difference.” Having trimmed away the edges so that they wouldn’t get in my way, he picked a spot in the front yard for us to start our coaching– a small patch of grass by the sidewalk. We only ever trained in the cool of the mornings or evenings, so that I didn’t get too hot.
To begin with, he set the board on the grass so it wouldn’t roll. He also locked the wheels and encouraged me to jump on and off the board as if it were a low table. I was hand fed on that rock-solid board every day for weeks and praised warmly every time I stepped up onto it until I felt 100% comfortable.
Next, I did some obedience exercises on it, including Sit, Down, Stay, and Turn Around. Once I’d mastered that, he began to move it slowly from side to side, shaking it a little or lifting it off the ground, but making sure I didn’t get scared.
He took his time. We’d train for 10 minutes at a stretch and then he’d put the board away – to my crushing disappointment. When he brought it out again the following day, my tail would wag wildly. Once he felt that nothing would faze me, he loosened the wheels a little and put the board in the sidewalk. Then he began to roll me along slowly with the promise of a treat if I stayed on, stopping it with his foot if it went too fast or I seemed unsure.
Repetition, diligence, patience, and positive reinforcement were the keys to success. “Awesome, Uggie!” Omar might say as he slipped me a bacon bit, or “That-a-boy!” with a liver treat. In no time at all, he was able to pull me around the block.
I’d experienced some public admiration in the past but the attention I began to attract as a cute Jack Russell riding a skateboard really went to my furry head. The motivation to do more and go faster was overpowering. Before I knew it, I was clinging to that deck with all four paws as Omar loosened the wheels some more and let me pick up speed to lead me down hills and up curbs.
Instinctively, I’d contract my muscles and lean into a curve. Or I might put out a rear paw to steady myself or push the board along. Before I knew it, there was no nylon rope anymore; it was just me--free and easy, with the California breeze flapping my ears. In my red bandana, I’d kick off against the pavement. Soon I was bumping down stairs and shredding ramps.
The high was so addictive that I forgot about the treats that had once been my motivation. Now I understood why Omar’s other dogs had been so hooked. Omar used to have to pull the skateboard away from them to be sure they’d get some rest..
For me, being on that board was reward enough.
Uggie, The Artist: My Story, published by Harper Collins on October 18, price £9.99
Uggie The Artist app is available on iTunes
Harper Collins has very kindly provided a whopping ten chances to win!
- Three lucky winners will get their hands on star prizes of special signed prints along with their copy of Uggie's brilliant book.
- Seven runners up will receive a copy of Uggie's autobiography.
How to Enter
Enter the draw by sending full name and address details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be in with a chance of winning a star prize, you also need to include your answer to the following question:
"My favourite thing about Uggie is ____________________________"
Our three favourite answers will bag the star prizes, with the rest of the prizes drawn at random from the remaining entries.
The competition will be open until 5pm on Thursday, 25th October 2012. Go, go, go!
Can't wait to get your paws on a copy? Get one at Amazon today!
Terms and Conditions
- Entrants must be based in the UK or Ireland. Entries from outside these areas will not be counted.
- One entry per address. Entries must be emailed to be counted; comments on this post will not be included.
- Full name and address details should be provided; Dogs Trust reserves the right to redraw if there is an incomplete entry. Entries after the closing date / time will not be counted. The winners will be chosen after the closing date / time and notified by email.
- The prize must be taken as stated and there can be no cash alternatives.
- By entering the Competition you grant Dogs Trust and any third parties appointed by it for the purpose of organizing and managing the Competition permission to use your name and location for announcing the winner of the Competition and for related promotional purposes.
- Data provided for the purposes of the Competition will not be held afterwards by Dogs Trust or Harper Collins.
- The decision of the winner is final and Dogs Trust will not enter into any correspondence.
By entering this competition, entrants are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions and agree to be bound by them.