Behind-the-Scenes at Puppy Bowl VIII
(Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)
58 adoptable puppies to be showcased on popular television event.
While the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots this Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, another set of athletes will also be taking the field – and television screen – in their own furry and playful style that is sure to yield just about as much hype and excitement.
Fifty-eight puppies – all available for adoption – will romp, wrestle and frolic in Animal Planet’s ninth annual Puppy Bowl, airing from 3 to 5 P.M. (E/P) Sunday evening.
There aren’t too many rules that guide the puppies on the field – the main objective is to move a chew toy from one end of the turf to another – but there’s something about the sequence that keeps on yielding interest. Last year, the show brought in more than 9 million viewers.
Pulling a show like this off takes a considerable amount of work, says first-time Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner, which begins months in advance of the actual date the show is aired.
The first step?
“We basically work with Petfinder to scour rescue centers and shelters, not just to find the cutest and the cuddliest and the most athletic and the most photogenic puppies, but puppies that have to be of a certain age, and have some variety in size and breed,” explained Schachner in a phone interview. “So we have a really nice range of puppies, and there is something for everybody.”
This particular set of puppies – ranging from nine- to 17-and-a-half-weeks – were selected from shelters and rescue groups in California, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.
All of the puppies were then brought to New York City, where they were housed, compliments of Animal Planet, and filmed the Puppy Bowl over two days at Chelsea Piers studios, clocking in eight to 10 hour days. The puppies had time to get acquainted with the turf, and sequences were shot in shifts, with only 10 puppies at a time taking the field.
If a puppy got a little too familiar with the turf, and participated in a little “premature watering of the lawn,” Schachner dished out a penalty, he said. An expulsion was called for if a puppy not only watered the lawn, but “did the other thing,” he joked.
With animal handlers on set, as well as officials from the American Humane Society, the puppies were under close watch, says Schachner, in case they grew tired and didn’t feel up to filming.
But generally, he says, the puppies were all game.
He says his regular role as a father to two young boys helped him prep for the job.
“It involves a lot of wrangling,” he explained.
Since the Puppy Bowl has already been filmed as of a few months ago, the puppies have since returned to the shelters and rescue groups they originally came from, now awaiting adoption. Jared Albert, a spokesperson for Animal Planet, says that in past years, all of the puppies have been adopted out – and many of them have actually been adopted out by the time the show airs.
Schachner described the puppies as “amazing,” saying “they are so sweet, so energetic, and beautiful, I can’t imagine not wanting to just adopt one of them.”
The puppies this year are in good company – they will be joined by 20 kittens, also up for adoption, during the half-time show, and by five pigs, who are slated to provide some sidelines entertainment.
New this year is the addition of Meep the Bird, who will be live-tweeting every kick and yelp from @MeepTheBird.
“The show is huge and every year it just seems to get bigger and bigger,” Schachner commented. “I think it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and people are just sitting at home, and it’s really just a nice warm-up, a good family-friendly event, for kids of all ages, to enjoy as a compliment to the actual game.”
For more information, visit the Puppy Bowl website.
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