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Sure, the Super Bowl is fun. There are parties, amazing food, hilarious commercials, and the game — if you’re into football. If you’re not into football, but love puppies, then the Puppy Bowl might be more your speed! The Puppy Bowl is a three-hour televised (and ultra-adorable) game where cute puppies run around on a model football field.
Here’s your guide to the Puppy Bowl!
History of the Puppy Bowl
Puppy Bowl takes place on Super Bowl Sunday every year and airs on Animal Planet. The 2020 Puppy Bowl will be the 16th edition, since the inaugural Puppy Bowl took place in 2005. The idea for Puppy Bowl was inspired by the Yule Log broadcasts. In order to give employees time off to spend Christmas with their families, television networks would broadcast video footage of a yule log burning in a fireplace for hours on end. The networks figured that since viewers would be busy spending time with their families during the holidays, it didn’t matter what they broadcast on their networks. However, to their great surprise, viewers loved the Yule Log broadcast and tuned in to watch it burn in large numbers.
Since most television sets are tuned to the game on Super Bowl Sunday each year, Animal Planet wanted to provide puppy-loving viewers with a counter-programming option. At a brainstorming session to devise a programming plan to compete with the most-watched television event of the year, an employee at Animal Planet jokingly said that they should “point a camera at puppies”. The joke eventually became a reality and the network partnered with a local American Humane Association to draft some puppy participants. To their great surprise, the Puppy Bowl drew a staggering 5.58 million viewers in its inaugural season.
The great success of the first Puppy Bowl continues today, as the program is consistently the second-highest-watched program on Super Bowl Sunday.
How to Watch the Puppy Bowl
Old clips of previous Puppy Bowls can be found online at Animal Planet’s website.
Puppy Bowl Format
Unlike the Super Bowl, which features iron-clad rules that dictate how the game is played, the Puppy Bowl is loose and carefree. Two teams of puppies are let loose on a faux football field that is littered with chew toys. Puppies score touchdowns by carrying a chew toy into the end zone. There is a referee watching over the action, who will occasionally call penalties on puppies for things like “pass inter-fur-ence” and “unnecessary ruffness,” as well as more dog-specific calls like “premature watering of the field.”
The puppy players have to meet a few requirements to play in the Puppy Bowl. They must be within 12 and 21 weeks of age, well-socialized, and vaccinated. Puppies also must meet certain height and weight restrictions, due to the size of the stadium. One of the best parts of the Puppy Bowl is that all of the pups that play in the game come from animal shelters. All the dogs are either adopted before the game is played or after, and the event creates tremendous awareness about adoption.
As the Puppy Bowl has grown in popularity they’ve added some new features to spice up the game. While the Super Bowl boasts massive musical acts during their halftime show (like Beyonce and Bruno Mars), the Puppy Bowl showcases kittens! During the kitten halftime show, the field is redone to features a bunch of cat toys and a fake stage. Dozens of little furry kittens run around and entertain cat lovers as the puppy players get a break to lap up some water. Other animals have made appearance in the Puppy Bowl over the years, including birds, pigs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and chickens.
The Puppy Bowl is pleasant diversion for animal lovers, but is also an excellent reminder of the importance of animal adoption. Unfortunately, shelters throughout the country are full of animals who desperately need a home. Want to lend a happy hand? There are plenty of ways that animal lovers can help out their local shelter. You can do anything from donate towels and toys, to volunteer to take dogs for walks and hang out and play with the cats. Shelters are often understaffed and underfunded, and will greatly appreciate anything you can do to assist them in taking care of their animals.
If you’re looking to bring a dog into your home, consider adopting a puppy in need either at your local shelter or at an animal rescue.