The inaugural Golden Collar Awards, held last night in Los Angeles, paid homage to Tinseltowns four-legged set, with six talented dogs trotting away with dazzling trophies and lots of stories to tell their pooch pals about the A-list human celebs they shook paws with on the red carpet.
Uggie, the talented and adorable 10-year-old Jack Russell co-star of The Artist, was the paws-down winner for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film. He is retiring from the film business soon after the upcoming Oscars, so this was his penultimate swansong.
He is a great family member as well as a great performer, and he will be enjoying a lot more couch time now, Uggies owner-trainer, Omar Von Muller, told me after the ceremony, with Uggie trembling lightly in his arms. (Uggie has a mystery neurological syndrome vets havent yet been able to diagnose.) He has helped pave the way for other dogs and trainers to get the recognition they deserve for their hard work in the future.
Uggie is expected to take his final bow-wow at the Oscars, where he will reportedly open the show beside host Billy Crystal. I dont normally glue myself to the Oscars, but Ill definitely be watching this years from the start.
Acceptance speeches at the Golden Canine Awards were blissfully short, with no sentimental gushing. The award-winning dogs didnt go on and on about their gratitude to their mothers, directors, and spouses, and their people had just a few well-chosen words for the audience, who braved an ice-cold banquet hall for the awards portion of the event.
The dogs who didnt win anything didnt seem to care. There was no dismay, no dashing of self-worth, no back-stabbing. When Wendy Malick from Hot in Cleveland announced Uggie as the winner of the nights big award (pronouncing his name “You-gie â€” oops), the two Dobies who were the evenings stand-ins for Blackie, of Hugo fame, slept right through it. They only roused when they heard the name Blackie in the nominee list, but they went right back to sleep a few feet away from me when Blackie didnt win. I am pretty sure I even heard one of them snoring.
What all the dogs â€” winners and otherwise (there are no losers in the dog world) really wanted was to know what goodies were inside the Natural Balance swag bags that seemed to smell insanely appealing to them. It was not uncommon at the end of the ceremony to witness a famous dogs head buried in a blue bag, snortling around the sample packets of treats and kibbles. This is not something we generally see human celebs do at the end of the Oscars or Emmys. They wait until theyre in the car on the way home.
It was a quirky event, with its share of little gaffes (eg, no envelope for the very first winner, announced by actress Pauley Perrette, who handled the problem with aplomb), but thats part of what made it a refreshing break from a typical Hollywood awards ceremony.
Even veterans of awards events were smitten by the Golden Collars.
This is more fun than Ive had the whole time Ive been covering the Oscars and Golden Globes, said Elizabeth Snead, contributing editor at The Hollywood Reporter, who helped judge the Golden Collars. Dogs make the awards season much more human.
Shes right. Theres something about dogs that humanizes so many situations â€” even war. With a dog at your side, barriers break down, and people can see everything from a different perspective â€” a kinder, less judgmental one with admiration for the silent loyalty and love dogs bring with them. Its hard to explain, but I think my regular readers know exactly what Im talking about.
Uggie, who brought a strong dose of humanity to The Artist and to the evenings festivities, was more than happy to share the spotlight with his brother, Dash, who will be taking over the familys acting legacy. Uggie was often content to be in his handlers arms while Dash did way-cute tricks on the red carpet. Move over, Barrymores!
There were plenty of other winners as well last night.
The Best Dog in a Foreign Film category was won by Koko from the Australian film Red Dog, which is definitely on my list of must-see dog films. In Australia, Koko is just as famous as Uggie. A tongue-in-cheek video by Kokos people said Koko wasnt at the Golden Collars because the people of Australia refuse to let the dog leave the country.
The Best Dog in a Television Series category went to the uber cute French bulldog Brigitte from the ever-popular TV series, Modern Family.
Nanette Gonzales. Keep your eyes peeled for more celebrity canines.