The 2020 Puppy Bowl has a winner — and a wiener too, for that matter.
A dachshund, Chihuahua, Great Dane and many more competed in Sunday’s “Puppy Bowl” on Animal Planet, an annual celebration of adorable and adoptable pups competing for hearts and forever homes.
Team Fluff took home the esteemed “Lombarky” trophy during this year’s event, which was the largest in its 16-year history, with 96 rescue puppies from 61 shelters, including some outside the US. Gina, a 12-week-old Labrador retriever-chow chow mix, scored this year’s MVP award (“Most Valuable Puppy,” naturally).
The game kicked off with a touchdown from Team Ruff’s Cafecito, a particularly rambunctious Chinese crested/Yorkshire terrier mix from Florida. The teams remained neck-and-neck, right up till the end, with a rousing touchdown by Team Fluff’s Rocky Road, a German shepherd/Samoyed mix from New York.
Other highlights: Team Fluff’s Papaya snagged referee Dan Schachner’s flag and darted down the gridiron for a touchdown — yes, that counts! Internet sensation Dolly — as in Salvador Dalí, for her Dada-esque mustachioed muzzle — made an appearance in the third quarter. Plus, as usual, there were more than a few inter-team smooches, impromptu naps and plenty of butt-sniffing from players on both sides.
The annual anti-football event, which mostly centers on watching the pups tumble across artificial turf with chew toys — even occasionally crossing the end zone — is the product of months of work. It starts in the summer, when producers scout pups from animal shelters around the country and internationally. In terms of casting, it helps if the contenders like playing with toys and are sociable, but cuteness is the ultimate decider, showrunners say.
By the end of the show, all the rescue puppies are typically adopted.
Team Ruff and Team Fluff, dressed in “Bark Blue” and “Tail Mary Tangerine,” were cheered on by a trio of baby pygmy goats and armadillos.
The puppies ranged in age — from 12 to 26 weeks old — and breed, including mixes of golden retriever, dachshund, Chihuahua and mini Australian shepherd.
This year, five special-needs dogs took the field as well, including a three-legged Labrador retriever mix named Ferris; a hearing-impaired Great Dane named Kismet; and Rooster, an American Staffordshire terrier-bulldog hybrid who has a cleft palate.
The game was a celeb-flanked affair. Comedian and recent dog-adopter Whitney Cummings made an appearance during the show, helping scout out talent before the game — Team Ruff’s Jack was hand-picked by Cummings. “Property Brothers” Jonathan and Drew Scott helped equip an adoptive family with a properly durable forever home for their new pups.
And while a different breed of fans were gearing up for a face-off between halftime performers Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, the Kitty Halftime Show brought to the stage star performers Jenni-PURR Lopez & CAT-ira. The fabulous felines arrived to the arena, in true diva form, by limousine and performed a showstopping version of “Catnips Don’t Lie.” Save for an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction from CAT-ira, the show went off without a hitch and all the kitties were adopted.