'The Artist' Dog Uggie Retiring Early Due to Mystery Illness (Report)

11:56 AM PST 02/06/2012 by Erin Carlson
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"It is a neurological disorder and we’ve spent thousands on vets’ bills trying to figure out what is causing it but the experts don’t really know," the Jack Russell's trainer says.

Uggie, who's soared to fame as Jean Dujardin's canine co-star in the Oscar-nominated film The Artist, might soon go into retirement for an unknown illness.

The Jack Russell's trainer, Omar Von Muller, was quoted as telling the British newspaper The Daily Mail that he suffers from a "mysterious shaking syndrome. It is a neurological disorder and we've spent thousands on vets' bills trying to figure out what is causing it but the experts don't really know."

Calling the situation "very sad," Muller said Uggie's problems started prior to November 2010, when production began on The Artist, for which Uggie is nominated for one of two Golden Collar awards in addition to his performance opposite Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in Water for Elephants.

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"It comes and goes and, ironically, it is worse when he's relaxed. When we were filming you could hardly notice it," said Muller, adding: "It is a shame this has happened when he is getting the biggest success of his career but we feel the best thing to do is to retire him after the Oscars."

In a recent interview with THR, Muller's co-trainer Sarah Clifford said Uggie, who's 10 years old, would retire from his feature film career this year after working 15-hour days on set, most recently for The Artist.

"We don’t force our dogs to do this," she said "And it always has to be fun for them. Uggie's still enjoying it but he’s getting up there and he’s slowing down a little."

For his purportedly final hurrah, Uggie -- whose brother, Dash, is expected to step in his paws --  will open the Oscars telecast on Feb. 26 alongside host Billy Crystal, according to reports.

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