By Greg DeVries
Millions of people will plant themselves on their couches on Sunday and stuff their faces with nachos and pizza for one of the best traditions that the United States has to offer.
As an avid sports fan, my heart races with excitement at the thought of watching championship football, but the Super Bowl isn’t the only event circled on my calendar on Sunday.
Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl should be part of everybody’s Sunday itinerary. If you have yet to watch a Puppy Bowl, then you are in for a treat.
The Puppy Bowl features dogs between the ages of 8 weeks and 4 months. The dogs are placed in a miniature football stadium, about 19 feet by 10 feet, with various chew toys and water bowls scattered about. For the next two hours, hearts melt as the puppies run around and play.
This year, Animal Planet added a puppy hot tub and a “Cute Cam” for slow motion replays. Surely this will enhance my viewing experience. While the Puppy Bowl might sound basic and dull, it is anything but. It’s a unique combination of adorable dogs and excitement that captivates viewers.
A constant smile will be draped across my face as I watch to see if Biscuit, a Puerto Rican sato, will be able to steal the chew toy from Cash, a pit bull. Maybe Harry, a shorthaired Chocolate Dachshund, will fall in the water bowl in the end zone. Will Fitz, a Catahoula mix, fall asleep at midfield late in the second half? The cute possibilities are endless.
I know Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is going to try and lay some big hits across the middle to San Francisco’s offensive players, and that certainly has its time and place on Sunday evening. But on Sunday at 2 p.m., I want to see puppies run around and play. It’s been a busy week in the Lariat newsroom, and cute dogs are nature’s stress relievers.
The game may seem chaotic, but there are rules. While puppies are allowed to tackle and bite each other, they are penalized for doing their “business” on the field. A puppy touchdown occurs when a toy football crosses the goal line, and timeout is called when the water bowl runs low.
A Most Valuable Puppy is also named after the game. Last year, Fumble, a Chihuahua/terrier mix, was given MVP honors. As the announcer put it, Fumble “combined offensive firepower with doggie defense. He not only put points on the board, he outworked and outhustled every other Fido on the field.”
This year marks the ninth time Animal Planet has blessed us with its lovable Puppy Bowl, but it wasn’t always as successful as it is now. The first Puppy Bowl drew around 300,000 viewers. Last year, the game drew 10 million viewers and was the second most-watched social television program in America. Geico has even purchased naming rights to the stadium.
There is more than just entertainment at the Puppy Bowl. Each year, a small segment is included that gives viewers information about where to adopt rescued dogs and how to volunteer at their local animal shelters. There are opportunities to volunteer in the Waco area, and I encourage you to help out if you have time, but you’re definitely going to want to check out the Puppy Bowl this weekend.