When dogs played dominoes
Thereis a famous painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, from 1894, that depicts a number of dogs sitting around a table playing poker. It became his calling card as an artist, and he painted and repainted the scene well into the 20th century. Perhaps, it might be argued, Coolidge found inspiration for this scene two years earlier, when the Jarrow Express carried an exciting report of a famous ‘Dog Domino Player’. Mr Leonard, who the paper described as “a gentleman of independent fortune”, had taken up a new hobby.
Clearly blessed with more money than sense, Mr Leonard was occupying his time by teaching his dogs to play dominoes. A number of his friends, having witnessed the dogs play one another, began to argue that it was all a trick, and so to challenge Mr Leonard’s canine competitors, a game between man and dog was devised. Each player placed their domino, taking in turns to play the right piece. To try and prove that the dog was simply doing what it was told, Mr Leonard’s companion played the wrong piece. To everyone’s surprise, the dog went berserk, and then won the game. News story sourced from britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk and rediscovered by Fern Riddell. Fern regularly appears on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking