Dog bowling notes |

Dog bowling notes

It started with the simple act of scooting a little yappy dog across a hardwood floor. It ended in the loss of gainful employment and companionship. And it’s all my fault.My wife, Christina, and I were dog sitting a little Pomeranian. At one point I skidded – “bowled,” if you will – it across our hardwood floor. Not far, or fast, or often. But I did. It seemed to enjoy it well enough. You know, wagging and smiling.The owner came by to collect her dog, and Christina decided to show her the dog’s new “trick.” Alas, Christina was not the designated bowler, so she scooted the dog a little too enthusiastically to the waiting hands of the owner. Gutter ball. The little toenails scrabbled and over she went. She was fine. She’s a dog. The owner, who had recently bought a condo in Aspen specifically so she could keep this dog, freaked. And why not? She thought we must have been doing this the entire two weeks of dog sitting – thumping the little dog noodle against the floor. She was wrong. I bowled the dog twice, three times tops. I love dogs and am an exceptional dog bowler – skilled, careful and respectful. Christina, a novice, had no business bowling, but everything turned out OK, once the long, awkward silence had passed.Fast forward three months. I’m visiting my friend, Kevin, in Seattle. We are at his girlfriend’s house. I tell the dog bowling story, really punching up the horribly embarrassing part with the dog’s owner. We all think it’s funny. Real funny. We laugh. We laugh hard. We create a new sport – Dog Bowling. It’s not cruelty, it’s a good time with your dog. The pins are bone-shaped, made of foam rubber and squeak when hit.The dogs wear special harnesses which provide maximum comfort for the canine and control for the bowler. If dogs were capable of exclaiming “wheee!” that’s what they would say while sailing down the lane. The “dog return” is a cozy ride with pictures of trees and other dogs and features a constant supply of bacon-flavored snacks. Both owner and dog enjoy the sport thoroughly.We need a slogan, so I start calling bowling alleys to get some insider lingo.”Hey, you know if you are going to play basketball you might say, ‘Wanna shoot some hoops?’ Well, what would be the equivalent slang for going bowling?”Most alleys hang up on me before I even mention the dog part. My request is sincere, but I come up empty-handed. We all laugh some more. And yes, we are very stoned.Fast forward another month. Cathy, the girlfriend who was in on the birth of Dog Bowling, the fastest growing canine-based bowling sport in North America, is interviewing for a job. The interviewer asks her an odd question: “When was the last time you laughed really hard?”Before she knew it, she replied, “Dog bowling.”She then has no choice but to explain how she and some friends sat around inventing the sport of dog bowling, and how everyone howled with laughter for much of the afternoon.Which was equivalent to answering: “The last time I laughed hard? Oh, that would be that time when I was really, really high.”She didn’t get the job.I felt bad. Somehow responsible. Upon hearing the news I sent her a letter on National Dog Bowlers Association (NDBA) letterhead. In part, it read, “We were saddened to hear of your suffering at the hands of closed-minded individuals who do not know how to have a good time with their dog, or, as we like to say, a dog-gone good time.We hope this incident has in no way soured your conviction to the growing sport of Dog Bowling. As we struggle for acceptance (remember, snowboarding was once looked down upon), we need the dedication and fearlessness of enthusiasts like your fine, fine self. Sincerely,B. Smith, Acting President, NDBA.”I even had NDBA stickers made and sent her one.She and Kevin broke up shortly thereafter. Again, I felt I was somehow to blame, that this whole dog bowling thing had negatively affected so many lives, and that I should have just never bowled that dog to begin with. Now the dog owner is wary of me, Cathy is without a job, and Kevin is without a girlfriend. So I sent him a sticker, too.Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at

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