The Dog that Plays Monopoly

On weekends and holidays my family likes to play long, leisurely games of “Monopoly.” Because little kids also participate, we bend the rules just a little bit. What’s funny is that when my husband, Danny, or I say, “Let’s start a game of Monopoly,” our dog, Baxter, lifts his ears and wants to play, too.

He heads over to a small pocketbook we keep in the living room and lifting it with his mouth, Baxter heads to Danny or me and is excited about playing Monopoly. Opening the pocketbook for Baxter, he sees lots and lots of fake Monopoly money inside and somehow he knows or senses that it’s his money to play with.

A five-year-old Golden retriever, Baxter is as smart as can be and from the day we got him he’s made himself an integral part of our family. He’s got a gentle and affectionate nature and has a striking golden coat. Baxter’s a medium-size dog, not small like a terrier and not large like a St. Bernard. Baxter is excellent at playing fetch outside in the large back yard but indoors on cold winter days he seems happily entertained by a lively game of Monopoly.

Placing the Monopoly board on top of the ottoman in our living room, Danny, our two kids, Jake, who’s eight, and Joanie, six, gather around. We sit on the couch and kneel on the carpet as Danny plays the banker and distributes the initial amount of cash to each of us. He then shuffles and sets out the stacks of Chance and Community Chest cards in their right spots on the board. 

Choosing our playing pieces, I pick the penguin, Danny chooses the race car, Joanie picks the Scottie dog and Jake always chooses the top hat. He likes that one. 

Rolling the dice to see who goes first, Joanie is the lucky one then Jake so around we go as we start landing on utilities and buying property. When one of us lands on “Go to Jail” and has to pay a $50 fine, we skip that because Jake and Joanie are just kids and having to pay that penalty is negative. We’d rather be optimistic as we move ahead and build on our real estate. Monopoly is a fun game, one that makes me feel like a real estate mogul as I buy my favorite properties. I always like to get railroads and utilities but each person has their favorites. 

When we land on a desirable property, we get rather excitable and Baxter gets excited, too. He’s right there squeezed between two of us and I’ve noticed that he seems to watch the movement on the board as attentively as we humans do. Sometimes Baxter grabs his money and throws it on the board. 

Jake considers himself an old hand at Monopoly and Joanie is the precocious one who comes out with some cute sayings as she snaps up Boardwalk and Park Place and continues with her real estate buying spree. Sometimes Jake wins the game and sometimes he doesn’t but he sure has fun playing with all of us.

Danny and I take turns letting Baxter roll the dice, buy property and collect the rents that inevitably come in. We make believe he is playing – and he sure looks like he’s concentrating on the Monopoly board – because including Baxter in our family game helps make it all the more exciting. When each game ends and we congratulate the winner Baxter barks good naturedly. It’s his way of chiming in and being part of the group.

We slept well that night pleased with how our game of Monopoly went. The next day my brother, Steven, and his wife, Jill, came over for brunch along with their brother and sister dogs, Akila and Kanoe. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were happy to be part of our little party. 

As we enjoyed our omelettes and lingered over coffee we caught up on family news. Then everyone headed out the back door to frolic in the two inches of snow that had fallen overnight. Our back yard looked pretty. It’s up against a golf course and the pure white snow looked pristine and covered everything.

We were the first to set foot on it and everyone had fun playing in the snow. The kids laughed as they tossed snowballs here and there. They were friendly fights and no one got covered in snow. 

Baxter loves playing in the snow so he jumped right in and tried catching the snowballs. Akila and Kanoe joined in the fun although Kanoe was the more adventurous of the two.

Afterwards we went back inside to warm up and gather around the dining room table with mugs full of hot chocolate. Akila and Kanoe sat on Steven and Jill’s laps, happy to be cuddled and part of the group.

Danny had turned on the fireplace so the room was warm and the flames threw off a cozy ambiance. We told Steven and Jill about the prior day’s Monopoly game and before they could even ask, Joanie proudly announced that she had won.

Steven congratulated her on winning the game then asked Joanie what her strategy was. Without hesitating she said snapping up the best properties on the board as quickly as she could. We all laughed because young Joanie was so serious about buying the Monopoly real estate. She also has a competitive streak and enjoys being the winner of the game. 

Jake said that he was thinking of asking to play a second game but somehow he knew his parents had had enough of Monopoly for one day. 

At one point as we all chatted I looked over at Baxter and there he was lying comfortably next to the fireplace. Curled up next to him and making themselves right at home were Akila and Kanoe. There was one Cavalier on each side of Baxter and all three dogs looked as happy as could be. 

This is fiction.

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