Omar Von Muller, animal trainer of Uggie from “The Artist”

Omar Von Muller–trainer of Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who stars in the Oscar-nominated black-and-white silent film, “The Artist”– discusses how he met and adopted Uggie, who was so wild and high-strung, he had been unsuccessfully placed in at least one home before meeting Von Muller.

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He recalled the initial training he provided Uggie, how the dog performed with him and some other animals on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, as well as in a touring production called The Incredible Dog Show–Uggie’s key trick was riding a skateboard. Von Muller also charted Uggie’s path from live shows into making commercial’s and then appearing in films, including “Mr. Fix It” and “Water For Elephants” before “The Artist.” He briefly commented on the shooting of “The Artist” and the virtues of–it being a silent movie–being able to give Uggie commands in a way that filmmaking doesn’t usually allow; he also described teaching “Artist” star Jean Dujardin some basic Uggie commands. Von Muller conceded that while making “The Artist,” that neither he nor anyone else involved with the film imagined it would become as celebrated or successful as it turned out, discussing some of the awards and accolades accorded “The Artist”–and Uggie.

ALSO: We had another brief conversation with Libby Boosalis, our friend and “Talking Animals” family member who, in early January, decided to go vegan. We spoke with her on the Jan. 11 show, when she was just a few days into the conversion, then again on the Jan. 25 show to get an update. On today’s latest installment in our periodic series we’ve dubbed–tongue-in-cheek–“The Vegan Chronicles,” we’re joined by Nikki Benoit of Vegan Outreach, who responds to the chief challenges Libby mentions in her update–and a notable new personal development that Libby reveals. (,,

COMEDY CORNER: Bill Engvall’s “Never Have My Own Animal Show” (

MUSIC: Lee Rocker’s “Swing Cat Stomp,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Weather Report’s “Birdland”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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