Finding it hard to root for the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s Super Bowl? It you flip to Animal Planet, you’ll find it “ruff” not to root for an Idaho puppy.
The Puppy Bowl, held annually since 2005 on the same day as the Super Bowl, features adoptable dogs playing football ... kind of.
It works like this: there are several toys on the ground. The puppies are divided into two teams: Team Fluff and Team Ruff. If a puppy happens to pick up a toy and make it into the end zone, that team scores.
Given that scoring is dependent on the attention span of a puppy, expect a low-scoring affair.
That’s not really the point of the game, though: It’s to bring awareness to adoptable dogs.
This year, an Australian Shepherd mix named Bumble will take the field for Team Ruff as part of the team’s starting lineup. Bumble is from The Double J Dog Ranch near Coeur d’Alene.
Double J is a sanctuary for dogs with special needs. Bumble is blind and deaf; that doesn’t stop her from being like any other puppy, though. She was rescued from a shelter in Oklahoma City.
“They don’t have any hang-ups. People do. They have a great quality of life,” Double J founder Cristene Justus told the Statesman. “She has plenty of energy. She’s a busy girl, just like any other pup.”
Bumble is the fifth puppy Double J has sent to the Puppy Bowl, Justus said. Two other dogs, Audrey and Eli, are competing in Saturday’s Dog Bowl, which is dedicated to older dogs.
Justus took all three dogs to New York for the filming in October.
“It was kind of fun with three dogs in Manhattan,” Justus said.
For anyone wondering: Bumble was adopted by a family in Spokane, Washington, in November. According to Animal Planet, every puppy and kitten (the halftime entertainment) from previous Puppy Bowls has been adopted.
Audrey and Eli, however, have not been adopted. There should be no hesitation to adopt any dog, even if it has special needs, Justus said.
“There’s a fallacy that if you buy a dog from a breeder that you’re getting a better-quality dog,” Justus said. “(Rescue) dogs are so thankful. They know when they become a part of your family and when they’ve been saved.”
The Puppy Bowl kicks off at 1 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet. The Dog Bowl begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday.