April 16, 2024

Bowlingual Dog

Animal Planet Directory

What happens to the puppies after the Puppy Bowl? Adopters share stories ahead of the 2024 game

The Puppy Bowl returns this Sunday with more than 100 up for adoption

The Puppy Bowl returns this Sunday with more than 100 up for adoption


He stunned on Team Ruff as a young gun, then came back to coach a Puppy Bowl player — now Maddux is one of four players set to be inducted into the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Maddux, whose name was Bubba when he played in Puppy Bowl XI, found his forever home the day Puppy Bowl 2015 was being filmed. This year’s Puppy Bowl will feature 131 adoptable puppies from 73 shelters and rescues. 

From a shelter to the Puppy Bowl

Maddux/Bubba had originally been found abandoned in an apartment along with his brothers and sisters, owner Michelle Maskaly said. She met him when she volunteered to help Florida Little Dog Rescue during the taping of 2015’s Puppy Bowl. 

“I pulled this one dog, which ended up being Bubba, out of his crate that morning and I was like ‘oh my gosh – this dog is just adorable. I love him,'” Maskaly said. 

He shined on the Puppy Bowl field, scoring several touchdowns. He was also great as a defensive player, Maskaly said. She adopted him on the day of the Puppy Bowl and renamed him Maddux, after baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. The chihuahua-terrier mix, now 9, is still active — he loves to run and play on agility equipment. 

Maddux then and now
Maddux played in the 2015 Puppy Bowl. 

Michelle Maskaly

“He’s a wonderful snuggler,” Maskaly said. “He’s very empathetic and he’s very intuitive.”

Maddux is looking forward to eating football shaped pupcakes on the day of the Puppy Bowl.

Preparing for the Puppy Bowl

Florida Little Dog Rescue, where Maddux is from, has participated in the Puppy Bowl for years, rescue director Laurie Johnson said. Ahead of the big game, a trainer works with puppies from the rescue to make sure they’re comfortable with lights and sounds. 

“We want the puppies to have a great time when they go, so we work hard with them in advance to make sure that they’re desensitized to that,” Johnson said. 

While they’re not focusing on how to score touchdowns, which happens when puppies bring toys into the end zone, one pup from Florida Little Dog Rescue has learned a football trick. Taylor, a Shih Tzu in her Puppy Bowl era, has learned to ring a bell when she hears “touchdown!” 

Dash and Taylor the puppies
Dash, left, and Taylor, right, will both participate in this year’s Puppy Bowl. They’re among a group of seven puppies participating from Florida Little Dog Rescue.

Laurie Johnson

The pup, one of seven from Florida Little Dog Rescue participating in this year’s game, is named for Taylor Swift. She even has a Chiefs jersey. 

What you should know about the 2024 Puppy Bowl

This year’s Puppy Bowl, airing Feb. 11 at 2 p.m., is Puppy Bowl XX. The puppies are split into two teams: Team Fluff and Team Ruff. “Fur-ocious” players in this year’s game range in size from Sweetpea, at 1.7 pounds, up to Levi, a 70-pound Great Dane. 

Players compete to win the “Lombarky” trophy and, each year, a pup is crowned MVP — Most Valuable Puppy. Referee Dan Schachner will be joined by puppy assistant Whistle, a “ruff-eree” who will help Schachner bark the plays and fumbles.

The show airs on Animal Planet, Discovery, TBS, truTV, Max and discovery+ before the Super Bowl. Some names might seem familiar to fans of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes; Chihuahua mix Bark Purdy will be playing on Team Ruff this year while Patrick Mabones, a hound mix, plays for Team Fluff.

Penalties can be called for “unnecessary rrruff-ness” and “paws interference.” Johnson recalled one pup, Mr. Wigglesworth, got a penalty for excessive slumber on the field. 

It’s a day of adorable viewing for fans and fun for the dogs. 

“They view it as ‘oh my gosh, it’s a huge playgroup, we’re going to have so much fun,'” Johnson said. “It’s kind of like taking your kid to Chuck E. Cheese.”

Adoption and the Puppy Bowl

Viewers are able to learn more about puppies at shelters and rescues across the country, all while seeing “pup-tastic” plays. Animal rescue workers say the event exposes potential adopters to the wide variety of dogs looking for forever homes.  

“They try to show you can get a golden retriever, you can get a corgi, you can find a chihuahua mix, you can find a lab mix, you can find a beagle, you can find a Great Dane,” Johnson said. “You can find all sorts of dog breeds — purebred, mix, designer — in rescue. You just have to be patient.”

Chester and Clara
Chester will play in Puppy Bowl XX while Clara played in Puppy Bowl XV.

Laurie Johnson

Johnson’s corgi, Clara, played in Puppy Bowl XV, during which she had an “excessive amount of fun with the water bowl,” Johnson said. She was fostering Clara, but ended up adopting her. Clara is also set to be inducted into the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame this year.

Maskaly views Maddux as an ambassador. She said people often stop her to ask about Maddux and are surprised to hear he’s a rescue. Maskaly has continued to volunteer helping out at the Puppy Bowl. It mostly involves picking up dog poop on the day of the game, but Maskaly said she loves being able to bring attention to dogs in need of homes.

“Being able to play a tiny little part in that, to help bring attention to them, is what I like best about it,” she said.