Move over, Super Bowl: 9 Philly-area rescue pups are headed to Puppy Bowl 2024

On Sunday, Feb. 11, Puppy Bowl XX will feature a number of dogs from animal rescue organizations across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

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Puppies compete in Puppy Bowl XII

The Puppy Bowl is scientifically proven to cure Eagles-related sadness. (Animal Planet, File)

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Dreams of a back-to-back Super Bowl appearance for the Philadelphia Eagles are officially dead.

Enter: Puppy Bowl XX.

The 20th iteration of the original “call-to-adoption” TV event will feature 131 puppy players representing 73 shelters and rescue organizations from 36 states and territories.

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Expect plenty of puppy penalties and ruffs and tumbles. The stakes won’t be high, but the players will be cute, and there will be no shortage of ear pulls, tail wags and puppy kisses.

Team Ruff looks to unseat the reigning Puppy Bowl champs, Team Fluff, after their razor-thin 87-83 win in 2023.

This Super Bowl Sunday, the Delaware Valley can put all of its eggs into the Puppy Bowl basket, with nine rescue dogs representing six animal rescues from the region.

In Philly’s suburbs, Phoenix Animal Rescue in Chester Springs, Chester County, and Providence Animal Center in Media, Delaware County, will be sending three pups between them.

Representing Morris County will be a solo pup from Chatham’s A Second Chance for Ziva. Renee’s Rescues, in Hockessin, New Castle County, will be sending one pup.

Brandywine Valley SPCA and Charlie’s Crusaders Pet Rescue, whose work spans the Delaware Valley, also have pups competing.

Who’s playing

Here’s a look at the Delaware Valley dogs who will be vying for the Chewy “Lombarky” trophy:

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Fancy the dog poses for a photo
Fancy, from A Second Chance for Ziva, of Team Fluff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Fancy | Team Fluff
American Staffordshire Terrier / Australian Cattle Dog
A Second Chance for Ziva

Dominic the dog poses for a photo.
Dominic, an American Staffordshire Terrier from Brandywine Valley SPCA, of Team Fluff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Dominic | Team Fluff
American Staffordshire Terrier / American Pit Bull Terrier
Brandywine Valley SPCA

Vanessa the dog
Vanessa, a Yorkshire Terrier mix from Brandywine Valley SPCA, of Team Ruff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Vanessa | Team Ruff
Yorkshire Terrier mix
Brandywine Valley SPCA

As the only Delaware Valley dog in the starting lineup, Vanessa will also be competing for the title of “Most Pupular” in the Pupularity Playoffs.

“One thing about Vanessa you should know,” her player card reads, “she is going to need a water break. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to stop what she’s doing and ask for it!”

Rocky the dog
Rocky, a Border Collie-Labrador Retriever mix from Charlie’s Crusaders, of Team Fluff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Rocky | Team Fluff
Border Collie / Labrador Retriever
Charlie’s Crusaders Pet Rescue

Bertie the dog
Bertie, a Boston Terrier from Phoenix Animal Rescue, of Team Fluff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Bertie | Team Fluff
Boston Terrier
Phoenix Animal Rescue

Small Ed the dog
Small Ed, a French Bulldog from Phoenix Animal Rescue, of Team Ruff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Small Ed | Team Ruff
French Bulldog
Phoenix Animal Rescue

Sasha the dog
Sasha, a Siberian Husky-Perro de Presa Canario mix from Providence Animal Center, of Team Fluff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Sasha | Team Fluff
Siberian Husky / Perro de Presa Canario
Providence Animal Center

Moe the dog poses for a photo
Moe, an American Pit Bull Terrier from Renee’s Rescues, of Team Ruff. (Warner Bros Discovery)

Moe | Team Ruff
American Pit Bull Terrier / Chow Chow
Renee’s Rescues

Who else is involved?

This year’s Puppy Bowl will feature its first-ever puppy assistant referee.

Whistle, a cavapoo mix who was surrendered to Phoenix Animal Rescue from a puppy mill, was offered the gig after being sidelined by team doctors for a bad knee, said Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner.

“Whistle is terrible at calling penalties and instilling respect from the players. She gets walked over, sometimes literally,” Schachner told USA Today. “But she sure is cute.”

The former NFL referee, who doubles as Whistle’s foster dad, will be officiating for a 13th straight year.

Whistle the dog is seen wearing referee stripes
Whistle, a cavapoo mix and puppy mill survivor, will be the Puppy Bowl’s first-ever assistant referee. (Warner Bros Discovery)

The coaching staff will also feature a nod to the Eagles, in the form of Team Ruff Coach Nick Fur-iani. (Whether or not Fur-iani will retain his job through next season remains to be seen.)

No word yet on whether Big Dom will make an appearance on the sidelines, now that the Eagles’ schedule has cleared up.

Nick Fur-iani the dog is seen on the sidelines of the Puppy Bowl
Team Ruff will be coached by Nick Fur-iani. (Warner Bros Discovery)

What happens at a Puppy Bowl?

The Puppy Bowl is your dopamine-fueled antidote to the Super Bowl blues.

Instead of watching the Birds invent new, creative ways of making you sad, the Puppy Bowl viewer can expect to enjoy puppies frolicking, tumbling and snoozing their way through game day.

Play-by-play commentary is also on the table, but you won’t have to listen to Joe Buck or try to sync up your TV with Merrill Reese’s broadcast.

Beyond offering a serious dose of cuteness, the Puppy Bowl aims to uplift shelter pets and the animal welfare organizations that work year-round to help them.

The event will feature segments that highlight dogs (and a few felines) who are up for adoption from 14 animal shelters across the U.S. Also on the bill: The Kitty Halftime Show will show some feline love, former competitors will be inducted into the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame, a dog will be crowned MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) and another will take home the Underdog Award.

This year, Warner Bros. Discovery is also partnering with Best Friends Animal Society to help animals find their forever homes by matching donations to cover adoption fees from Feb. 7 through Feb. 14.

Puppy Bowl XX will kick off at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 11, and will be simulcast across Animal Planet, Discovery, TBS, truTV, Max and discovery+.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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