The world of poker experienced a bit of sad news last week when it was reported that Jilli Dog, a Yorkshire terrier who delighted fans the world over by performing tricks involving playing poker and miniature basketball, passed away of natural causes.
Jilli Dog’s exact age was unknown because owner Rick Caran rescued her from the hard life of a stray when he found her on a UK street about 16 years ago, no tags or collar and apparently homeless. What developed after that chance meeting is the stuff that legends are made of, as Jilli Dog spent her life paying forward Caran’s kindness by performing poker-playing tricks to adoring audiences on television, at charitable events, and at a number of other gatherings.
Retired from show business the past two years due to declining health that included poor hearing and blindness, Jilli Dog stepped out of the limelight to allow another Yorkie owned by Caran, Ruby Dog, to take over the starring role. Ruby Dog is four years old.
Jilli Dog died while with Caran as he clicked away at his computer one morning, perhaps for the best considering her deteriorating health.
Her last two days she couldn’t stand well,” Caran told Newsday, admitting that up until the end Jilli Dog “still loved to do the tricks. She couldn’t do her old stuff but she’d try.”
A star is born
Jilli Dog got her start playing poker when Caran visited his mother in a nursing home and amazed the elderly residents with her tricks. Word spread regarding the performing antics of the poker-playing pooch and a career was born.
That career included traveling to other countries to put on shows, as well as guest appearances on “Live! With Regis and Kelly,” “Today,” “Good Morning America,” and “Dogs 101” on Animal Planet.
My Sweet Jilli Dog, I don’t know what I did to deserve such a blessing in my life, as you, but I will love you, and miss you, forever,” Caran posted on Facebook, adding that the lovable pooch “changed my life, showed me unconditional love, and brought me, and so many others such amazing joy… I cherish the day you walked into my life, those 16 years ago, a sickly pup from the street, and you turned it upside down… It’s been a great ride… Thank you…”
Take a look at the video below to see Jilli Dog in action. Rest in peace, Jilli Dog.