This past Sunday, Americans excitedly gathered around their TVs, equipped with snacks and surrounded by friends and family. For the last few days, families have been planning large neighborhood parties, while others were resting their vocal chords in preparation for a long night of cheering and screaming. That’s right, the most anticipated cultural sporting event in the country finally arrived: the Puppy Bowl.
Animal Planet’s counter-program to the Super Bowl aired this weekend for the 14th year in a row, providing entertainment to non-sports fans and sports fans alike. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this adorable program, the Puppy Bowl is essentially footage of dozens of puppies playing in a miniature football stadium. This year, Team Fluff and Team Ruff competed in the bone-shaped stadium.
As the adorable canines played (and sometimes slept), announcers provided commentary on their game, just like they would at any other sports event. Whenever a dog happens to drag a toy into the endzone, it is considered a touchdown, and they can even be penalized for various crimes of cuteness. The puppies even sit and pay attention while the National Anthem is played by a chicken on a piano. For some additional cuteness, barnyard animals sat on the sidelines, acting as cheerleaders for the hard working puppies.
The program aired on Animal Planet at three p.m. on Sunday, and then replayed for the next eight hours. Football fans were able to catch the bowl before their big game started, and those who aren’t so into sports could watch during the game.
One of the best things about the bowl is that all of the dogs are rescue animals from various shelters. This year, there were more dogs than ever, with the count coming in at 90 total dogs. Coming from 48 different shelters from 26 different U.S. states, these pups receive the best care possible from the Animal Planet team.
A few of the featured dogs have been rescued from areas affected by natural disasters this past year. Puppies from Houston, Puerto Rico and Florida are specifically featured in the game. The bowl also has a few impaired players, such as Chance (a deaf dalmatian), Ryder (a sight impaired husky), Moonshine (a sight impaired and deaf border collie) and Luna (a Pomeranian with a cleft palate).
The first puppy bowl first premiered in 2005 and was originally suggested as a joke. Animal Planet executives initially suggested the idea as a funny way to draw viewers away from the Super Bowl. This joke became a reality and attracted a larger audience than ever expected. Over the years, the Puppy Bowl has grown from its original “goal” to take viewers from the Super Bowl, and now exists purely to provide entertainment and happiness for anyone who decides to tune in. Today, the Puppy Bowl is a beloved program, for which team loyalties can be put aside and the nation can come together for the sake of undeniable cuteness and delight.
Final score: Team Fluff 52, Team Ruff 47
Photo courtesy of Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images