I miss my inspiring pet pooch

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The disappearance of the pet pooch who inspired a Queenstown artist’s Holly-wood-bound Lonely Dog fantasy hasn’t slowed the project down.

Artist Ivan Clarke’s 12-year-old long-haired dachshund Arthur Snout went missing just before Christmas.

But even with his dog gone, Clarke, 48, is soldiering on with a week-long exhibition from Saturday.

The exhibition at “Alveridge Hall”, near the artist’s Bob’s Cove home, comes after a whirlwind year for Lonely Dog.

Clarke has signed a Hollywood movie deal, sold international book rights and opened an Auckland Lonely Dog gallery.

Not that it’s helped ease the pain of losing Arthur Snout.

“He had a bit of a fetish for spying an open gate and going hunting,” Clarke says.

“It would have been Arthur Snout’s 13th birthday [today]. I miss him.”

Clarke’s always maintained it was Arthur’s wistful look as the artist went on holiday eight years ago that triggered his original Lonely Dog painting Bon Voyage.

The upcoming exhibition features 31 Lonely Dog originals, a few drawings and bronze sculptures from special effects company Weta Workshop.

“I had [Lonely Dog] passed round Hollywood and somebody phoned me and said, ‘Look, why don’t you ping it through to the boys at Weta?”

Oscar-winning Weta boss Richard Taylor introduced Clarke and a business partner to a Warner Brothers top gun.

Clarke, who says he concluded the film deal with Warner in October, won’t talk numbers but confirms it’s seven figures.

“They’re well on with filming tests with live action and real actors and real sets using digital head and hand replacements and prosthetics.”

Writer/producer is Oscar-winning Akiva Goldsman, whose films include A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and The Da Vinci Code.

“Warners are extremely enthusiastic but there are no [release] dates yet – those things take years to go full term.”
Clarke has also sold worldwide rights to London’s Atlanta Books, who are publishing “the full Lonely Dog story as a sit-down novel” this year, and has opened a Lonely Dog gallery in Auckland.

During Saturday’s exhibition launch, a Lonely Dog collection owned by deceased local Lynn Baxter will be auctioned – she’s deeded it to Queenstown-based Orphans Aid International. The free exhibition runs from Sunday till the following Saturday between 10am-4pm daily.