Chapter 12 – Gabby Bowling

I’ve loved bowling since I was young, though I’m not particularly good at it. My high score is 223, but I usually average 130 or 140. I don’t bowl enough to be consistently good at it.
It turns out Gabby loved bowling, too.
It all started one Saturday night when I went all-night bowling.  They had a bunch of prizes they were handing out halfway through the evening, and one of them was a brand-new bowling pin. I didn’t win, but I really wanted a bowling pin. I asked the desk manager if he could sell me a brand-new pin since I did not win. He didn’t have another one available for sale, but he went in the back and found a used one he gave me for free.  That was good enough for me.
I was home with Gabby the next day. I looked at her, looked at the pin, and thought of something. I got a DVD case and put it on the carpet so I had a smooth, flat surface to put the pin on. I sat next to her, set the pin on the DVD case and said, “Make a strike!” Then I knocked the pin over with my fingers. I did this two or three times, then I took her paw, said “Make a strike!” and used her paw to knock over the pin. I repeated this two or three times, released her paw and said, “Make a strike!” and she knocked it over on her own. That’s all it took to teach her the trick. I praised her and gave her a treat after she did it.
This was meant to be a trick, but it turned out to be one Gabby’s favorite games. Before long she was pawing the pin as she looked at me, encouraging me to set it up and command her to knock it over. She didn’t even want rewarded with a treat after. She just wanted to bowl!
What doesn’t show in these videos is the little scowl that would sometimes appear on her face just before she raised her paw knocked it over. She took it very seriously!