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On Sunday, February 4, millions of people will tune in for the year’s biggest game. No, we are not talking about the Super Bowl 52 matchup between the Patriots and Eagles, but Animal Planet’s adorable Puppy Bowl where two canine teams will go nose-to-nose for the coveted “Lombarky Trophy.”
While Puppy Bowl 14 will feature a total of 92 dogs representing Team Ruff and Team Fluff, only 10-12 will be on the field at any given time. The “athletes,” all between 12 and 21 weeks old, will tackle, bite, and wrestle for toys, treats, and bones. A touchdown will be declared each time a puppy drags his/her toy into the end zone. Penalties can result from “painter-fur-rence,” “unnecessary ruffness,” or anything the referee deems as unsportsmanlike conduct.
The fun begins at 2 PM ET with a pregame show that provides the audience a behind-the-scenes peek at the puppies’ pre-Bowl rituals. During the game, which starts at 3 PM ET, viewers will be able to create digital trading cards using photos of their own pets or go online to learn more about each competitor and even vote for the game’s most valuable puppy (MVP).
Of course, no championship would be complete without celebrities. Jokgu, a chicken famous for its piano-playing skills, will kick off the afternoon with a performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” while a slew of farm animals including chickens, pigs, and hedgehogs will show off their cheerleading prowess from the sidelines. A sloth named Shirley will assist seven-time human rufferee Dan Schachner, and Meep, an African Gray Parrot, will live tweet the game. During halftime, two viral feline sensations, Prince Michael and Phil the Cat, will take to the stage as Kitt-ENSYNC and perform “Meow Meow Meow,” a cover of Justin Timberlake’s boy band NSYNC’s hit song “Bye Bye Bye.”
Though the Puppy Bowl, which closely mimics the Super Bowl, is fun, the show’s primary purpose is to help find the dogs a loving home. This year’s participants come from 48 shelters across 25 U.S. states and territories that suffered natural disasters in 2017, including Houston, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Among them are Moonshine, a sight-impaired and deaf Border Collie, Sophie, a three-legged Goldendoodle, and Luna, a Pomeranian mix with a cleft palate. Mango, a Chihuahua/American Staffordshire terrier mix from Mexico will be the game’s first international player. “It’s really about the rescue and welfare of pets. This is just one of those fun [ways to] heighten the awareness of adoption,” said Animal Planet’s general manager Patrice Andrews. The good news is that since parts of the Puppy Bowl, which was filmed in November 2017, have been available for preview on the Animal Planet Channel website for a few months, many of the rescue dogs have already found homes!
Started in 2005 to attract viewers to the television channel during Super Bowl Sunday, Puppy Bowl now draws over 2.5 million human fans annually. The show’s success has spawned numerous copycats including Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl and National Geographic’s Fish Bowl.
Happy Puppy Bowl Sunday! Go Team Ruff! Go Team Fluff!
Resources: AnimalPlanet.com, wikipedia.org, dogonews.com