Our Birds may not be in the Super Bowl this year. But, hey! How about those dogs?
Come February 11, the Delaware Valley region is going to have bragging rights to eight puppies in Puppy Bowl XX — that high-cute-quotient annual event that organizers promise to be the “puppiest Puppy Bowl ever.”
This year’s Animal Planet’s extravaganza will feature 131 puppies from 73 animal shelters and rescues across 36 states and territories representing Team Ruff or Team Fluff and vying for the coveted Lombarky Trophy.
Our area pups hail from five different rescues. Happily, the puppies selected for Puppy Bowl have usually found homes by the time the show airs, as it is filmed in advance. This year, game time was actually last October.
But Puppy Bowl’s mission is to inspire people to think about adoption from rescues and shelters for their next furry best friend and family addition. And, even more than football, that’s what these puppies do best.
Phoenix Animal Rescue in Chester Springs has three puppies in this year’s Puppy Bowl — all from puppy mills, like 431 of the 551 dogs the rescue took in last year.
“This is our very first time going to the Puppy Bowl, and we are so happy to have our pups representing puppy mill survivors,” Phoenix’s Marta Gambone. “The boys brought all the drama and action to the filming. They are on opposing teams, so our house is divided, and we are cheering for both team Fluff and Ruff.”
Small Ed, competing on Team Ruff, is a French bulldog who was rejected by his puppy mill breeder because he had an injured eye and was thought to be unsellable. Phoenix got his eye treated and now he lives with a family in Broomall.
Bertie, a Boston Terrier recruited onto Team Fluff, was surrendered by a puppy mill looking to cull its stock. He was adopted by a Maryland family who takes him swimming, kayaking, and out to eat.
Whistle, a cavapoo, was born with luxating patellas, a problem that affects the limbs. But that won’t keep her from serving as Puppy Bowl’s first doggie referee. She’ll be helping Puppy Bowl long-time ref Dan Schachner, a former NFL ref. They’ve become a team in other ways, too. Whistle is being fostered by Schachner and his family in their New York home.
“For those who think they have to turn to breeders for their next companion and friend, we really hope they will give their rescue a try first,” said Gambone, “as you really can find any breed with local groups like us. From doodles of all types, to Frenchies, Bostons, English bulldogs, cavaliers and more, we truly have a dog for everyone.”
This year, Brandywine Valley SPCA sent two pups to the Puppy Bowl. Vanessa, a Yorkie on Team Ruff, came to the shelter through an animal cruelty case. Dominic, an American Staffordshire Terrier/American Pit Bull Terrier mix on Team Fluff, came through the agency’s Second Chance program where dogs are brought from states where they believed unlikely to be adopted. Both of them now have found forever families.
In addition to the puppies Brandywine has in this Puppy Bowl, 2024 brings the rescue other furry bragging rights.
“The Brandywine Valley SPCA is so excited because we are the only one who has kittens for the Temptations Skybox,” said BVSPCA communications director Sara Smith.
A fan favorite, they’ll be in the Skybox with commentators Steve Levy and Taylor Rooks. Other rescue community kittens will be in the halftime show.
Moe, a floppy-eared American Pit Bull Terrier on Team Ruff, is the Puppy Bowler for foster-based Renee’s Rescues of Hockessin, Delaware.
Renee Martini, the rescue’s executive director and founder, said Moe’s foster family, the Domanskis of Newark, Del., was instrumental in submitting the pup for the Puppy Bowl.
“The kids created a video,” Martini said. “They were jumping for joy when I drove over to tell them” Moe made the Puppy Bowl. Moe has been adopted by a Delaware family who have two acres for him to romp on.
Rocky, a Border Collie-Labrador retriever on Team Fluff, came from Charlie’s Crusaders, which rescues animals from rural Mississippi and Tennessee and adopts them to the Lancaster area. He and his littermates were orphaned when their mom was run over by a car. He’s been adopted by a Pennsylvania couple who pampers him with doggie fashions and takes on runs with them.
Sasha, a Siberian Husky/Perro de Presa Canario mix on Team Fluff, hails from the Providence Animal Center in Media.
Where and how to watch the Puppy Bowl
For those who want to get even more into the spirit, some pet-minded emporiums are throwing game day events.
Bark Social, a dogs-welcome bar in Manayunk, is having a Puppy Bowl viewing party. ACCT Philly, the city’s open in-take animal shelter, will also be on hand with some of their rescue pups available for adoption.
The Boozy Mutt, Fairmount’s dog-friendly pub, will be hosting its Wooder Bowl from 1 to 5 p.m. on February 11. A fundraiser for ACCT’s Yoda Fund, providing emergency care to needy dogs, there will be food and drink specials, every pup wearing a jersey will earn their person a free dessert, and from that day through March 11, $1 for every Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Mulled Wine, and Fairmount Fries will go to ACCT. Adoptable dogs from ACCT will also join the festivities.
“We’re really excited to be partnering with the Boozy Mutt and Bark Social, and we’re glad Puppy Bowl is elevating the profile of dogs in need of homes,” said Sarah Barnett, ACCT executive director. “We’re looking forward to these events both to raise funds and to have adoptable dogs there so they can find homes and watch the Puppy Bowl next year with their family instead of from a shelter.”
The Puppy Bowl kicks off at 2 p.m. and will be simulcast across Animal Planet, Discovery, TBS, truTV, Max and discovery+.