If Super Bowl Sunday finds you curling up with dog treats instead of chips and dip, chances are your idea of the Big Game is Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. This year’s production, the 12th, will feature contestants from three local animal shelters: Center City’s Morris Animal Refuge, Marlton’s New Life Animal Rescue, and Salfid Rescue, Inc., in Souderton. Prepare to lose your heart:
Marlton’s Puppy Bowl contender is Kevin, a 12-pound, 13-week-old schnauzer (as of the October shooting, that is). Repping for Morris is Leah, a 15-week-old, 28-pound Rottweiler pup. And from Salfid, meet Marley, a Lab mix who was 14 weeks old and 18 pounds when he made his pro debut.
If you’re not familiar with Puppy Bowl — and we can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be — the dozens of entrants meet in Animal Planet Stadium in New York City on a field strewn with dog toys. Teams score a touchdown anytime a puppy drags a toy into the end zone. Halftime shows have featured kittens, chickens and even penguins; there’s a Kiss Cam and a hot female sideline reporter, and for the first five years, narration was by the Phillies’ own Harry Kalas.
All the animals who appear in Puppy Bowl are from shelters (well, except the penguins), and the production, which is watched by nearly three million (football-phlegmatic) viewers, pushes adoption as its, well, pet cause. Lori Ann Grant of Harleysville had only been fostering Marley for a month when she got the call that he was wanted in the big leagues. Some fosterers, she notes, are ambivalent about the opportunity, but she jumped at it.
“I’m really proud of Marley,” she says. “He’s a really neat dog.” He loves to swim in her pool, he knows all his tricks, he’s a favorite with neighborhood kids, and every night he tells her it’s time for bed by climbing into hers at the appointed hour.
True, she did hear from the Puppy Bowl handlers that he wasn’t exactly a star on the playing field, but she thinks she knows why: “He was really worn out.”
She didn’t hold his ineptitude as a reality star against him; she officially adopted him shortly after he came home. Almost all the lucky pups who appear in the Bowl, it turns out, are adopted by the time the show airs. But don’t despair if you fall in love with one of the contestants: Morris, New Life and Salfid have lots of other pups.
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