For the Love of Maj….and Dogs

For the Love of Maj….and Dogs

They’ve watched us play Maj for so long, is it possible they understand the game more than we think?

While I am not a dog person per se (a fact mentioned in previous blogs), I appreciate the role these cute canines play in our Mah Jongg lives. If you have a dog and you play Mah Jongg, you know that these furry friends never stray too far from the sound of the clicking tiles.

A friend of mine is a total dog lover. When we go to her house to play Maj, her little guy is such a gentleman–he barks like crazy when we first arrive, but then settles down, sprawling out under our Maj table. Shifting our feet must be done carefully lest we step on the little guy, as he covers the entire space under the table. This is his preferred vantage point from which to observe us, ignoring his plush bed situated just a few feet away.

Then there are the big dogs–the golden retrievers, who are so happy to see people that they have been known to almost knock me down upon my arrival, or bump into the Maj table, knocking over the tiles in a fit of playful excitement. Giving these dogs attention and playing Maj at the same time is a skill worth honing.

Another Maj friend has a pair of pooches–they’re a sight for sore eyes. They watch over her like nobody’s business. They, too, bark excitedly upon the arrival of the Maj ladies, and calm down as we take our seats. An occasional car or strange noise will set them off, but then they calm down after a mild scolding by mom. Sometimes climbing in a lap will do the trick, as they need a bit of attention, much like young children.  The more mischievous of the two spends most of the evening under the table seated on top of someone’s foot. It’s warmer than sitting on a cold floor…

Then there is the adorable little guy who resembles a white ball of fluff. He likes to bark, quite a bit, even when there is no reason to be barking. His mother tries hard to calm the little guy down, but he’s a bit hyper. He finds relaxation playing with his rubber toys under the table – he seems to feel safe there, and we have gotten used to the rhythmic squeaking of his toys. Not surprisingly, he is most comfortable in the arms of his mother, who can adeptly hold him while picking and discarding her tiles.

Early in my Maj career, I played with a good friend who had just gotten a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. This puppy was so adorable (and large) that most of our Maj group found the puppy more interesting than the game itself. He was so popular that on one particular Maj night, one lady brought her dog to play with this puppy. Towards the end of the evening, three of the women got up to see what the dogs were doing and I was left sitting alone at the Maj table. Was there a subtle message here?

As we are drawn to the game of Mah Jongg, could our canine companions, who know us so well and feel our emotions, be absorbing the game by osmosis? Given the amount of time they spend with us while we play, it’s too bad they can’t fill in as a 4th player in a pinch.

Or could they?  Stranger things have happened…

I welcome your comments.

(Photo created by John Davis of Mahj on My Mind)

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