Jilli Dog, billed as the world’s only poker-playing dog, has passed away of natural causes in her owner’s home at the age of 17. Jilli Dog became famous for performing a variety of feats, including dunking basketballs on a miniature hoop and acting on television programs and in commercials.
But Jilli Dog was perhaps most renowned for her poker skills. In a YouTube video with owner Rick Caran, Jilli is seen playing a form of poker especially designed to fit her canine skill set.
“I had to look for a game where she didn’t have to hold the cards,” Caran once told News12.
In “Five Card, No Peak Poker,” Caran deals out five cards each for himself and Jilli. Each of the players take turns choosing a card face down and turning it over, after which they bet. After three rounds, the best three-card hand wins. Jilly is not only able to choose and flip her own cards, but also puts money into the pot and celebrates her big win at the end of the hand.
According to Caran, he first met Jilli, a five-pound Yorkie, about 16 years ago. At the time, she was an abandoned stray. But Caran took her in, and soon realized that Jilli had a talent for picking up tricks in short order. Since then, Jilli has become something of a canine celebrity, making appearances on Animal Planet, on television programs around the world, and at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. She’s even had the chance to perform her tricks in Las Vegas, the dream of any serious poker player.
Both Jilli and Caran were also involved in charitable causes. Jilli was the Goodwill Ambassador for the Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue, an organization that Caran also worked with. The duo also found time to support the ASPCA, the North Shore Animal League, and other animal rescue organizations. Caran has also written columns for YorkieÂ Club Magazine.
While many players have been described as donkeys, fish, or sharks, an actual non-human poker player is a rare sight. However, there certainly have been other animals that have gotten caught up in the exciting and glamorous world of gambling.
Take, for instance, the curious case of John. A chimpanzee who was the mascot for the Casino Kosmos in Moscow, John became a popular attraction among guests, as he would smoke and drink with them as though he was just another gambler. Russia eventually outlawed the practice of making chimpanzees perform in such a manner, though, and John ended up being taken to the Gekendzhik Safari Park.
But John’s gambling past stuck with him, and it turned out that it wasn’t so easy for him to give up a few of the bad habits he had picked up in the casino. Workers at the park discovered that John was still addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, addictions that were sometimes encouraged by visitors who would throw cigarettes into his habitat. As a result, John was sent through a rehab program and has since kicked his habits.