Puppies and kitties and football; oh my! If any (or all) of those things interest you, be sure to mark your calendars for one of the year’s biggest upcoming weekends in canine and NFL fandoms alike. While you won’t be seeing any four-legged friends in attendance at the Super Bowl event inside SoFi Stadium, you can tune in to watch them competing in their own version before the real game.
Animal Planet (Discovery+) has hosted the annual Puppy Bowl since 2005, airing it the same day as the NFL’s Super Bowl Sunday for the last 17 years.
Representing 67 shelters and animal rescues all across the country, each tiny canine contestant will be assigned a team and try to score touchdowns through various challenges. The pups will perform simple tricks and follow commands such as guard, chase, and fetch as they make their way into their pre-assigned end zones. One team will take home the “Lombarky” trophy, named in honor of the famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi. All of this sounds quite impressive for an annual adoption show, even for Animal Planet. Yet the Puppy Bowl goes far beyond a typical rescue event. So how did it come to exist as their leading SuperBowl Sunday initiative?
Animal Planet executives first pitched the idea in a meeting, while thinking of programming concepts to counteract blows to their views during all of the actual SuperBowl action. There wasn’t much weight placed on actually accomplishing this goal; after all, the SuperBowl is one of the most watched events in U.S. television history. Imagine everyone’s surprise when the very first Puppy Bowl pulled in almost 6 million viewers during its 12-hour time slot. Ratings soared, and ever since, the Puppy Bowl has thrived. Nearly twenty years since starting, it has now become its own annual affair. Who would have guessed tiny fur-balls chasing paw-sized footballs would become such a National hit? Dog and cat people, that’s who. Never underestimate the power of a pet!
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
Since the first event was filmed, the Puppy Bowl has undergone some very major upgrades. Thanks to its success and over-the-top viewer ratings, they’ve grown from an unsponsored T.V. promotion to Animal Planet’s most sponsored and marketed programming enterprise. We’re no longer shown a few puppies and kittens romping around for the cameras. We’re now given well-planned and funded, top-notch entertainment, and for a stellar cause. Well-known sponsors, hosts, and famous T.V. personalities come together every year to help with the puppy and kitten adoptions.
The pre-game starts an hour prior, and the Puppy Bowl sportscaster lineup doesn’t disappoint. Fans will see many past favorites, including James Hound and Rodt Weiler, as well as Sheena Inu. Field reporters Greta Dane and Mini Pinscher will also be returning, to give us the stats on this year’s drafted puppies. And of course, we can’t forget “Rufferee” Dan Schachner, who will call the puppy penalties and announce the touchdowns. 2022 will mark his 11th appearance as one of the Puppy Bowl’s human participants.
To run the tailgate party and hype the audience about all the adoptable animals, celebrity hosts Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg once again join the show’s lineup, but this year, their involvement goes the extra yard. In addition to serving their signature snacks during downtimes, they’ll be acting as team coaches! Martha will coach for team Ruff and Snoop Dog will rep for team Fluff. Their coaching duties will include running pregame puppy drills and giving the audience play-by-play updates.
Though viewers are sure to see each featured puppy’s distinctive personality, every player shares a common factor with their teammates: All are in search of their “furever” homes. In total, viewers will see more than 100 adoptable rescue and shelter pets from 33 country-wide centers, though all won’t be playing the Puppy Bowl games. While not every puppy ends up with a trophy, they all leave the field as big winners. So far, 100 percent of the players have been placed with loving families after their time on the show. What’s even more remarkable is most of these puppies would be overlooked by shelter-goers everywhere.
Keeping in line with the regular Super Bowl traditions, the Puppy Bowl also has (dog and cat) cheerleaders and half-time entertainers. In fact, one of the show’s cherished customs is the Kitty Half-Time Show, where rescue and shelter kittens will show off for the cameras during a Purrfect Beach dance off. Some other recurring traditions include slow motion replays and footage from the Puppy Bowl’s infamous Water Bowl Cam. Luckily, each puppy gets the chance to shine and show they all look the same on the inside, with hearts full of pure, unconditional love. With the Puppy Bowl occurring the day before Valentine’s Day, what better “true love” tale exists than the one between babies with actual tails and their human rescuers? Whatever activities make an appearance, let’s hope the Puppy Bowl’s winning streak when it comes to adoption success continues to 18-0.
If you can’t adopt an animal, but still want to do something more than just watch, there are plenty of ways to participate.Those in or around Cincinnati, Ohio on February 5th have the opportunity for an additional treat. The Animal Friends Humane Society will be hosting a “pawtographs” session with Odell Barkham, also known as Bowser. As the only open-admission shelter in the Butler County area, Animal Friends assists more than 5,000 shelter pets each year. Those in attendance will get to meet up with the team Ruff puppy, receive his paw print autograph as a souvenir, and hopefully help even more shelter animals find a loving home.
Can’t make the trip to Ohio? Don’t worry! Viewers and fans can get on in the action well before the game. To learn about each puppy through the player gallery, participate in playoff votes, collect all 23 exclusive puppy NFTs, and read highlights from prior Puppy Bowls, fans should visit the official Puppy Bowl headquarters webpage. Voting and collecting both end on the 10th. NFT purchases all come with trading cards, and proceeds are to benefit the Orange Twins Animal Rescue. Orange Twins was co-founded by siblings Scott and Brian Nicholson, as well as teen pop idol Ariana Grande.
With so much excitement packed into one day, and right before Super Bowl kickoff, Puppy Bowl XVIII is a paw-fect choice for all of your Super Bowl pre-gaming needs. While not everyone is a football fanatic, I’d venture to say that most want to support furry friends in finding homes. Not only does the Puppy Bowl do exactly that by showcasing dozens of animal shelters and their current rescues, but it offers a family-friendly experience within your own four walls.
Who do you think will take home this year’s trophy? If anything like last year, Team Ruff will get the Lombarky. Team Fluff may seem like the underdog, but with two amazing coaches and adoptions for all at the end, it’s every puppy’s game!
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The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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