For those who prefer wagging tails and paw prints to touchdowns and helmets, Animal Planet’s 16th annual "Puppy Bowl" was probably your sporting event of the year.
All the animals that participate in the show come from various shelters and rescue centers across the country, with the goal that they are adopted after the program.
Operation Paws for Homes, an animal rescue organization in Alexandria, Virginia, sent two dogs to this year’s event.
The Puppy Bowl competitors from Alexandria were Raven (who now goes by Luna), an 18-week-old Chihuahua and Pomeranian mix, and Rummy, a 20-week-old Boston terrier.
The process for Puppy Bowl recruitment begins over the summer and filming takes place in New York in October.
Emily Murrell, a volunteer for Operation Paws for Homes, accompanied the fluffy athletes to the event with her mom, Debbie Jellick.
“We had about a four-hour drive with two potty pit stops and both pups were very well-behaved and slept most of the drive,” Murrell said. “They had become quick friends at my house the night before, and when we got to the hotel, they had some great puppy wrestling time, which I had my fingers crossed would continue on the field the next day.”
Rummy got a taste of the influencer life on his first day in New York, where he got to participate in advertising for Subaru and a Pedigree puppy food segment.
The next day, the dogs had to check in with a veterinarian. Then Raven (Luna) finally had her paws meet the Puppy Bowl field.
“She was unfortunately a little too nervous and just wanted to snuggle with all the cameramen and volunteers rather than playing with the other dogs, so we were not on the field long with her,” Murrell said.
Rummy was more outgoing but also was more interested in sniffing the field than actually playing, she added.
The group consistently invests in the organizations they rescue from, donating over 50,000 pounds of dog food and cat litter to their shelter partners, said Jennifer Dodge, the founder of Operation Paws for Homes.
“One thing that I think sets us apart is that we try to develop long-term, great relationships with the organizations that we partner with,” she said.
Both dogs that competed in the "Puppy Bowl" have been adopted.
Raven (Luna) now lives with a family in Salisbury, Maryland, and Rummy is with a family in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Both are living the good life,” Operation Paws for Homes Volunteer Manager Tracy McMenamy said. “They are well-loved and enjoying the rest of their puppyhood.”
If you are interested in adopting any of the dogs or cats available from Operation Paws for Homes, please go here to learn more.