10 Most Memorable Animals of 2012

Maybe it's just us, but 2012 seemed like a great year to be a celebrity animal.From sour-faced kitties to dogs who backflipped their way to Vegas, amazing pets dominated our TV screens, bookshelves and Internet memes.

We caught up with the year's most buzzed-about pets to get the inside scoop on how they're wrapping up the year — and what 2013 may have in store for them.

What 2013 Has in Store for Boo, Henrí and More

Grumpy Cat

Courtesy of Bryan Bundesen

Grumpy Cat

She’s one of the hottest Internet memes of the year, and we just can’t get enough of that adorable scowl. You know her by the name Grumpy Cat, but did you know that her real name is Tardar Sauce? And did you know that she’s actually not grumpy at all?

We got a chance to talk with her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, about how the funny feline is handling her newfound fame. Bundesen says Grumpy Cat is perfectly friendly (her brother, Pokey, is actually the grumpy one) and was on her best behavior when the Today show flew her out to New York City.

If you can’t get enough of Grumpy Cat’s hilarious mug, she now has her own online store, and the retail chain Hot Topic will soon carry Grumpy Cat T-shirts. After such a successful 2012, we can only imagine that the web celebrity will gain steam in 2013. “We're really hoping for a cool kids book," Bundesen hinted, "or maybe even a cartoon.”

Olate Dogs

Courtesy of Jane Samis

The Olate Dogs

It’s only been three months since the Olate Dogs won the seventh season of America’s Got Talent, but they’ve already taken Sin City by storm. We caught up with Nicholas Olate, the younger (human) half of the father-son act, to find out how the canine crew is wrapping up 2012.

“We’ve been super, super busy since we won,” Nick says. The act spent two months performing in Vegas, and has since logged 9,000 miles of travel to do halftime performances, private parties and dog shows. The Vegas show is paused for the holidays, but will resume again in January, along with a 44-city America’s Got Talent tour that starts in February.

And here’s another thing to watch for in 2013: A few of the dogs filmed a guest appearance on the Disney Channel’s hit TV series Dog With a Blog. Nick says the episode will air soon, so keep checking your TV lineups to find out when you can see the special guests on the show.

Hank the Cat

Courtesy of Anthony Roberts

Hank the Cat

We’ll always remember 2012 as an important election year — but not necessarily because President Barack Obama was elected a second term. Our favorite political moment came when a cat from Virginia ran for a U.S. Senate seat. Hank the Cat got 6,000 write-in votes, which, unfortunately, wasn’t enough to send him to Washington.

But that doesn’t mean his campaign was all for naught: Hank's supporters raised $16,000 for animal rescue groups. Anthony Roberts, his owner/campaign manager, told us that Hank doesn’t have any future political plans right now — he’s keeping his options open. Roberts joked: “He’s working in the private sector right now as a business consultant.”

Jess's Dream

Courtesy of Stonestreet Farm

Jess's Dream

You may not recognize him by name yet, but we have a feeling this handsome foal is going to live up to his famous parents’ reputations. This little guy, named Jess’s Dream, was born in January to 2009 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra and 2007 Preakness winner Curlin.

“He shows a lot of dominant characteristics. He definitely takes charge,” a Stonestreet Farm rep tells us. “He’s so socialized, just like Rachel. Nothing rattles him.”

We know 2013 will be a big year for Jess’s Dream — he’s racing in the yearling division, and he’s also going to become a big brother. Rachel Alexandra is due to give birth in February to a filly sired by 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini. We hope Jess is ready to show his little sister the ropes!


Courtesy of Alan Nevins


There’s no denying it: Uggie’s fame knows no bounds. He stole the show at the Golden Globes. He got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he even kissed Reese Witherspoon in front of the paparazzi.

So what does The Artist star do when he’s not accepting accolades and having his every trick and sniff photographed? According to owner and trainer Omar von Mueller, Uggie just likes to chill out at home with his family, which includes three humans (von Mueller, his wife and their daughter) and six other dogs. The whole gang plans to spend Christmas in the California mountains, where all the dogs (who are mostly rescues) can enjoy long winter walks, von Mueller told us.

Sadly, Uggie is now retired from showbiz due to a mysterious neurological disorder that causes him to shake. But he's been visiting his brother Dash on the set of his new movie, 10 Things I Hate About Life, which also stars Across the Universe star Evan Rachel Wood.

Uggie doesn’t plan to stay out of the limelight completely, though. He’ll ride on the Pet Care Foundation float in the Rose Bowl parade on New Year’s Day, and von Mueller hinted that there may be the possibility of commercials, as long as they’re short and sweet and don’t require long hours on set. For a retiree, that sounds like a pretty exciting 2013!

San Diego Panda Cub

Courtesy of the San Diego Zoo

Xiao Liwu

Xiao Liwu captivated the nation when he was born in July at the San Diego Zoo to 20-year-old mother Bai Yun. In fact, we are compelled to admit that we follow the giant panda cub's weekly health examinations more closely than we do our favorite primetime shows.  

Thankfully, the zoo keeps us updated when Xiao Liwu (which means “little gift”) reaches a new developmental stage, like opening his eyes, learning to walk or playing with a ball. So what do his fans have to look forward to in 2013? Finally seeing the little guy in the zoo’s panda exhibit, of course.

Beth Bicknese, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, says, "He needs two things to go on exhibit: The ability to climb — and he's not quite there yet — and he also has to have the behavior of following his mom out and back into the den. We're waiting for him to be stronger in climbing and waiting for him to be better at following, and then we're going to have him out on exhibit." We can't wait.

Giant George

Courtesy of Paul O'Rourke

Giant George

2012 was a big ... er, giant year for a Great Dane from Arizona. Guinness World Records recognized Giant George as the World’s Tallest Dog back in 2010. Since then, though, that title has been claimed by another Great Dane named Zeus.

But despite being ousted as biggest dog, Giant George is still enjoying his huge success. This year he was profiled in a book called Giant George: Life with the World's Biggest Dog, which has been translated into eight languages.

George hints that major announcements in 2013 could include a children’s book series and a calendar. There’s also been preliminary talks about turning his first book into a movie. “I want Denzel to play me,” Giant George writes. Watch out, Hollywood!

Henri the Cat

Courtesy of William Braden


If you asked Henrí, he’d probably tell you that he had a dreadful year tolerating the “thieving filmmaker” and L'Embecile Blanc, his snow-colored cat brother. But in the short span of 2012, Henrí went from anonymous former shelter cat to bona fide Internet sensation.

Le Chat Noir, who stars in black-and-white YouTube shorts with French narration and English subtitles, laments just about everything: shaving cream, mirrors, Halloween, closed cat doors — the list goes on and on. Even when he won the top award at the Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Minneapolis, we’re sure he remained unimpressed.

Still, Henrí must have found some glimmer of kindness in his tortured soul — his online store, which sells merchandise like mouse pads and calendars, has raised $5,000 for charity. That should give him something to be happy about... or, maybe not.

Beyonce Tiny Dog

Courtesy of Lisa Van Dyke, EDDOG Photography


You may not even recognize her now. At birth, Beyonce the dog fit on top of an iPhone. The abnormally small pup wasn’t breathing when she was born and had to be resuscitated by staffers at the Grace Foundation, the organization that took in her mother, a pregnant stray.

Her first year of life isn’t even over yet, and she’s already a thriving (but still little) girl named for the Destiny’s Child song “Survivor.” She now works as a canine activist for animal rescue. The Dachshund-Chihuahua mix promotes a program called “S.N.A.P. to It, America,” which encourages people to spay, neuter, adopt and protect rescue pets. That's big work for a little dog.

Boo the World's Cutest Dog

Courtesy of Chronicle Books


Here’s a riddle: What has 6.1 million Facebook fans and the cutest face on the planet?

Boo the Dog, of course. This cuddly canine has had quite the year. He published Little Dog in the Big City, the much-anticipated sequel to his 2011 book, Boo: The Life of the World's Cutest Dog. His merciless grip on the entire Internet is as strong as ever. He has a line of T-shirts and electronic accessories with his face on it, and a plush dog bearing his likeness. And he ended 2012 by hanging out with Santa. Not too shabby.

So what will 2013 bring for the photogenic Pomeranian and his sidekick Buddy? His representative at Chronicle Books tells us that the company will publish a Boo paper doll set and an ABC book for children next year. We can’t wait!


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!