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Dog Poker...A Hand of Poker...with the dogs?

By: Rebecca O'Connor

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We all know those famous paintings of dogs playing poker, right? You probably even have friends that have a reprint in their game room. We just love the idea of dogs in a card game, wearing their best poker faces. Those painting have become American icons. Do you know their history, though?

The Paintings

The title of the most famous painting of dogs playing poker is "Looks Like Four of a Kind". It was painted by C. M. Coolidge (1844-1934) around 1910. According to the Santa Cruz library, "Between 1868 and 1872 Cassius Marcellus Coolidge worked as a druggist and sign painter, founded a bank and a newspaper, then moved from Antwerp, New York, to Rochester, where he started painting dogs in human situations. His poker-playing dogs are the most famous, but he also painted dogs on a commuter train and in a ballpark. Coolidge's first customers were cigar companies that printed copies of the paintings for giveaways. Coolidge eventually signed a contract with Brown & Bigelow to turn out hundreds of thousands of copies of his dog paintings for advertising posters, calendars, and prints."

How much would you pay?

In 2005 two of Collidge's "Dogs Playing Poker" paintings were sold for a record price at Doyle New York's annual Dogs in Art Auction, fetching a staggering $590,400. The (paintings') sequential narrative follows the same 'players' in the course of a hand of poker," said an auction note from Doyle. "In the first, our main character, the St. Bernard, holds a weak hand as the rest of the crew maintains their best poker faces. In the following scene, we see the St. Bernard raking in the large pot, much to the very obvious dismay of his fellow players." The St. Bernard obviously wasn't the only one with a winning hand. No one expected the paintings to go for more than $30,000.

Try Your Own Hand

Even if you aren't rich enough to buy a Collidge original you could still stage a little dog poker of your own. Okay, so the dogs won't really be the card players, but why not have a poker party and invite the dogs to come along? It would be fun for all.

Look for dog-themed favors and fun to add some festivity to the party. How about some bone-shaped plates and paw print napkins? Find the appropriate cards too. Heritageplayingcards.com has a deck of cards decorated with images of dogs of the world. Dig up your old decks of cards or buy some doggie playing cards to get the games rolling.

Don't forget the snacks. Make sure there are plenty of great people snacks as well some pooch friendly treats. Popcorn and pretzels are great for the human card players. The dogs will love a gourmet doggie snack and other canine treats. Stop by your favorite pet stores and gather a variety of small tasty snacks. Don't forget the drinks either. How about some doggie beer. And who needs poker chips when you can play for doggie biscuits? Fido will be thrilled to go home with whoever takes the spoils.

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