Puppy Bowl features Penguins and Keyboard Cat!

It was 10 years ago that Animal Planet decided to introduce us to the most adorable sporting event on television — The Puppy Bowl! According to Puppy Bowl executive producer Melinda Toporoff, in an interview with, this year’s game included 66 puppies, 30 kittens, 5 penguins, 3 adult cats, 8 tailgate party dogs, 4 service dogs, and 6 hamsters. Not only is it the cutest thing ever but all of the animals are from shelters and ready to be adopted, except the penguins of course.

Only Puppy Bowl gives you adorable puppies playing football while kittens sit in skybox seats. The penguins cheered; the hamsters fixed a stadium blackout and an actual bird (Meep) “live-tweeted” the game — watch out Joe Buck, the Bird may be coming for your job!

While we may not all agree on the best NFL team, at least we can all agree that there is no “best puppy.” Still, only one could be named MVP (most valuable puppy), the honor went to Ginger, a 12-week-old Old English Sheepdog Mix, who represented her home state of Ohio! What she lacked in scoring touchdowns she excelled at in assertiveness! Not only did she show her dominance by chewing through the rule-book, but she also had quite the string of adorable penalties.

Even celebrities came to event such as, First Lady Michelle Obama, The Muppets, and perma-kitten/internet celebrity Lil Bub. Animal Planet really knocked it out of the park with this one!

Starting the Puppy Bowl X off were the members of the New York’s Police K9 Unit who saluted our first-responders during the National Anthem. And you can’t forget The Bissell Kitty Halftime Show which featured the world-renowned talents of Keyboard Cat.

They gave it their little-puppy-all Sunday. And when little Rudy, who had to be on his leash the whole time was let free to run in the final seconds of the game my heart melted.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl celebrates 10th year of cuteness

With a decade of cuteness under its belt, the annual Puppy Bowl celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday with smaller, fuzzier athletes than those competing in Super Bowl XLV111 at MetLife Stadium.

The Puppy Bowl is like a football game, but the players are pooches in need of loving homes.

Dogs score touchdowns when they cross the goal line with a toy. The bios of each puppy on the roster appear on screen to let viewers know how to find them for adoption.

The program always airs the same day as the Super Bowl on Animal Planet.

Sixty-six puppies from various animal shelters in the U.S. and Puerto Rico gathered at a New York City studio in October to film the annual game.

This year, the puppy arena was outfitted with 21 cameras — 10 of them GoPros — and producers captured more than 100 hours of footage for the two-hour televised game.

The four-legged participants in this year's Puppy Bowl were coached by two of the most famous dogs in the U.S.: White House pets Bo and Sunny.

Michelle Obama and her furry companions recently helped more than a dozen pups get ready for the canine competition during drills on the South Lawn of the White House.

The Puppy Bowl is wildly successful, raking in 12.4 million viewers last year. Other popular elements include the Kitty Halftime Show and penguin cheerleaders.

This year also features internet-famous Keyboard Cat, scheduled to perform a Bruno Mars song.

Puppy Bowl pre-game: pamper your pet

Super Bowl weekend isn't just about football: in recent years, Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl has become a popular alternative for animals and their human counterparts. Check out how to treat your pet to a Puppy Bowl party.

For the last 10 years, Animal Planet has been counter-programming the biggest football game of the year with the cutest football game of the year. If you've never seen The Puppy Bowl, you can check out highlights from last year's game, but the premise is simple: Build a miniature stadium and fill it with puppies and chew-toys. Turn on the cameras and watch a panoply of adorbs unfold. This year 38 baby dogs will romp around while a parakeet "reports" from the sidelines via twitter (@MeepTheBird). Breaking up the "play" is a kitten halftime show headlined by Keyboard Cat (!) who will be playing Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" (!). During this show, 29 baby cats will take the field and be aww-inspiringly cute. This year, we've also been promised penguin cheerleaders (!) and special appearances by Lil Bub (!). Folks, outside the finale of Twin Peaks, this is quite possibly the most bizarre moment on broadcast television that you will ever see.

But half of the fun of a Super Bowl party — or any football or sports party — is the tailgating experience. (Nope. NOT making a TAILgating joke. Nuh-uh.) You know, the food, the fun, the be-costumed and face-painted zaniness! But how exactly does one tailgate for the Puppy Bowl? Let's find out together!


There's always one weirdo who shows up for a football game in a clown wig and face and/or body paint, so why should your pets be exempt from all the dress-up hilarity that we seem to equate with cheering on our team? We won't suggest painting your dog (it'll probably be a nightmare to clean out of its fur), but costumes are equally as fun. In fact, this Cheerleader Dog Costume ($15.99 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $3) is also harmless on your wallet. (Though, the harm it may cause to your dog's mental health is only something that you and your licensed pet psychologist can determine.)

If you want your dog to exude a "tougher" image, this Football Star Dog Costume ($10.59 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $3) might be a better fit. However, after staring at it for a while, we're not sure dressing up your dog in any costume will make the poor thing look any tougher.

You can also choose to break gender stereotypes and dress your male dog as the cheerleader and a female dog as the football player. You'll not only be creating hilarious Instagrams, but striking a blow for gender equality!

Cuomo, Democrats, and the politics of personal conduct

But you should probably avoid dressing your dog in this Anit Accessories Football Costume ($27.26 with $6.99 s&h, a low by $15) if there are real football fans around — ones who might have been drinking and enjoying the Super Bowl a bit too much. A rush of excitement might see little Spot get accidentally punted into the neighbor's yard.

Pro tip: Serve all your human Super Bowl food in dog bowls to add an extra level of "doggy-ness" to the day. What? You say that's gross?! How is that gross? You make your dog eat — and drink — from one every day of the year, the least you could do is commiserate this one time!

But what will you be serving? You can't just start grilling up real hot dogs and sausages for your pets they'll get notions above their station. Feed them a hotdog straight from the grill once and the next thing you know they'll be begging for food directly from your dinner table . and then they're answering the phone and pretending they're you, maybe even dressing up in your clothes and hitting on your wife. You can avoid all those unwanted possibilities by simply stocking up on foods that almost, but not quite, resemble tailgating fare.

Might we suggest you pick up a mess 'o Snausages Beef & Cheese Flavor Dog Treats 25-oz. Bag ($4.46 with in-store pickup at Walmart, a low by $5)? Those should be "close enough for jazz" — especially if "Jazz" is the name of your pooch. (In honor of the Autobot, right?) As for drinks, instead of a margarita (don't deny it, we've seen you sports-types tote along a car-adapted margarita machine to the game), get your pup some Mr. Barksmith's Cool Treats Smoothies ($10.99 with $2.95 s&h, a low by $4). Yes: DOG SMOOTHIES. Just don't spike them with tequila unless you want a) PETA coming down on you like a ton of bricks or b) a dead pet. Harsh realities. Oh, and take our word for it that they do not taste anything like the real things, OK?

Sports Paraphernalia

We're told that during a real tailgate party, folks usually bring a football or frisbee to toss around. The revelers get to throw the 'ole pigskin amongst themselves and pretend that they are [insert famous player's name here]. We'll bet that your dog would also like to mess around with a football-shaped object before the Puppy Bowl pretending Spot is [insert name of famous dog football player here].

Of course, instead of catching it and spiking it to the ground, your dog will: catch it, throttle it a bit, possibly mangle it, then either drop it yards away from you (forcing you to go get it so you can repeat the process), or he'll bring it back to you but refuse to hand it over causing a tug-of war and resulting in a ruined football and drool everywhere. (Man, why do we like dogs? They sound like such jerks!)

So we'd recommend just getting the cheapest football-shaped object you can, like this Westminster Pet 20037 Vinyl Dog Toy ($2.29 with $1.51 s&h, a low by $6). Sure, it looks more like a Katamari head than a sports implement, but due to the reasons outlined above it doesn't really matter, does it?

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Lastly, you'll want to make sure that you have a second TV, so you can tune in to the "real" ball game that's on at the same time. Switch back and forth? Right! You just try and take the remote away from your 100-lb. Rottweiler who's way into the Puppy Bowl!

The Only Thing Worse Than the Super Bowl Is the Puppy Bowl

Before your eyes widen with rage and your temple veins burst, before you leave a profane comment at the bottom of this article, before you tweet about how I should be euthanized, and before you photoshop my face onto Hitler’s body and upload it to the Facebook page “Ryan Kearney Is Worse Than Michael Vick,” know this: I think puppies are cute. Cuter than kittens, cuter than bunnies, cuter than ducklings and piglets, penguin chicks and panda cubs. Infinitely cuter, also, than human babies, whose cheeks cannot compete with puppy fur, whose eyes are as unmoored as puppies’ are expressive, and whose limbic flailing make a pouncing puppy look like an NFL-caliber wide receiver.

But puppies are not wide receivers, not of any caliber. They are dogs, and as such, they don’t have two feet and two hands but rather four paws that seem expressly designed to prevent carrying round objects, let alone catching airborne footballs. And yet, every year since 2005, the cable network Animal Planet has let loose a motley crew of these toddler-dogs in a stadium—actually an enclosed pen measuring roughly five yards by two yards, painted to resemble a football field—and broadcast the action as “Puppy Bowl,” complete with an NFL Films narrator (originally the legendary Harry Kalas, RIP, and now Scott Graham). The only “bowl” here is the one from which the thirsty dogs lap water with their coarse little tongues, and the “action” has nothing to do with methodically moving a ball down the field and scoring. Instead, puppies chase and sniff and mount each other, lose interest, nod off, wake up, gnaw plush footballs, and sometimes lift one in their mouth and trot into the end zone, adorably unaware of the significance of this act.

It’s unfair, of course, to compare the Puppy Bowl to its ostensible inspiration, the Super Bowl. One features puppies the other features some of the world’s most impressive athletes. But what’s wrong with one is what’s wrong the other—and you, the viewer, ought to consider the moral consequences of watching either.

The Super Bowl is America at its most steroidal, figuratively—if not also, in some cases, literally. The pre-game shows are longer than the game itself, and the game is hardly short. Last year’s lasted 4 hours and 14 minutes. That was partly due to a half-hour power outage, but over the past two decades the game has averaged 3 hours and 35 minutes. That’s about 20 minutes more than the average NFL game, which itself is too long considering that it requires viewers to sit through more than 100 ads, spread over 20 commercial breaks, all to watch a grand total of 11 minutes of action. But the game isn’t just overlong. The in-game TV graphics, already too bright and embarrassingly elaborate during regular-season games, are cranked up to epileptic proportions for the Super Bowl. International conglomerates drop $4 million on 30-second commercials that are never as funny or interesting as Twitter would have you believe. And then there’s the always forgettable (well, almost always forgettable) halftime show, which reliably features either a senescent rock band (The Who, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones) or an insipid pop act (Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, The Black Eyed Peas) performing what amounts to a Girl Talk medley of their “greatest” “hits.”

But the worst thing about the Super Bowl is that it is a game of football, a brutal sport suspected of causing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is science for “rotting brain” and associated with “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.” The NFL has long denied any such link between football and degenerative brain disease, which makes watching games doubly troubling: It’s hard enough to watch men get concussed, break bones, and suffer “stingers,” all in hi-def slo-mo in doing so, you’re also supporting a business that, out of greed and survival instinct, has covered up the horrific damage being done to its employees. In a recent New York Times magazine piece titled “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?,” Steve Almond writes that.

. medical research has confirmed that football can cause catastrophic brain injury — not as a rare and unintended consequence, but as a routine byproduct of how the game is played. That puts us fans in a morally queasy position. We not only tolerate this brutality. We sponsor it, just by watching at home. We’re the reason the N.F.L. will earn $5 billion in television revenue alone next year, three times as much as its runner-up, Major League Baseball.

Put that way, it’s not much of a quandary at all, is it? Not for Almond, who vows not to observe that “secular holiday,” the Super Bowl. He loves the “grace” and “tension” and “chaos” of football, “but can no longer indulge these pleasures without feeling complicit.”

This is what makes the Puppy Bowl, on its face, a genius act of counter-programming. The relative simplicity of its production and conception are a welcome respite from the pomp and circumstance and bone-crushing, brain-damaging violence of elite football. Also, it stars puppies. Everyone loves puppies. Compared to the Super Bowl—where you’ll get only a brief puppy fix—the Puppy Bowl looks like the most harmless, lovable program on TV.

But it’s not. The Puppy Bowl has become a cultural behemoth in its own right, abiding by the American business ethos that if you don’t keep getting bigger, you die. This year’s Puppy Bowl, played in the “Geico Stadium,” features no less than 66 pups between the ages of 12 and 21 weeks. The halftime show features Keyboard Cat and Lil Bub, and there’s also cheerleading penguins, fan voting for the Bissell MVP, overpriced merchandise, a fantasy draft, and news broke Tuesday that Michelle Obama is going to perform a touchdown dance during the show. The two-hour show begins at 3 p.m., but will loop on repeat, with new content every hour, until 3 a.m. That’s 12 straight hours devoted solely to puppies being puppies. (Maybe they should just become the Puppy Channel? Maybe not.) And if that’s not enough, you can watch a live Puppy Bowl “practice” on your computer right now.

Cute, I know! But can we be sure that this puppy football is entirely safe? Not that the Puppy Bowl needs a concussion protocol, or to test for PEDs—though I did pose those issues to spokeswoman Melissa Berry, who replied, “All the puppies are safe and well taken care of.” All players receive a pre-game veterinary checkup, she said. A vet is also on site during filming, as is a monitor from the American Humane Association—an organization the Hollywood Reporter recently exposed in an investigation into “troubling cases of animal injury and death that directly call into question the 136-year-old Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit’s assertion that ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ on productions it monitors.” What’s more, Mother Jones this month raised questions about the Animal Planet show “Call of the Wildman,” alleging “evidence of a culture that tolerated legally and ethically dubious activities, including: using an animal that had been drugged with sedatives in violation of federal rules directing trappers to procure wild animals, which were then ‘caught’ again as part of a script.” So while I doubt that Puppy Bowl players are harmed, it’s not inconceivable.

The Puppy Bowl’s heart is in the right place. The puppies come from animal shelters and rescue groups across the U.S., including The SATO Project, which rescues dogs from Puerto Rico’s infamous Dead Dog Beach. (Google it, if you dare. As Berry says, “It’s a pretty nasty situation.”) Having already performed in the bowl, which was taped in late October, those puppies that weren’t already in the process of being adopted or weren’t adopted by Puppy Bowl crew members have been returned to their keepers, ready to be adopted by one of the Puppy Bowl’s 12 million heart-melted viewers.

That’s a lot of people, especially for basic cable, and they’re all tuning in to watch something they could watch live, in person, for free, at their nearest pet shop. Does our obsession with puppies specifically, and cuteness generally, know no bounds? The internet replies: Nope, no bounds! We will look at puppies ad infinitum and sine nauseum, because evolution: The New Republic’s Alice Robb noted earlier this week that “a team of psychologists led by Jessika Golle at the University of Bern argue based on students’ reactions to babies’ and puppies’ faces that there is a universal mechanism underlying our appreciation of both animals and babies.” Hard-wired this way or not, we are a race of slack-jawed zombies, stalking cuteness. It’s a human weakness that’s worth fighting—especially if you love puppies.

There’s a reason we have thousands of animal shelters and rescue groups in America: Some humans cannot resist “saving” a sad puppy they’ve spotted through a pet store window, impulse-buying it for themselves, a loved one, a child. That purchase may have temporarily freed one pup—at least until little Jimmy grows bored of it—but it also implicitly supported large-scale commercial dog breeders, otherwise known as puppy mills. All you really need to know about them can be found on Google Images. “There are about 10,000 puppy mill facilities in the United States pumping out three to four million dogs per year,” says Melanie Kahn, senior director of the Humane Society’s puppy mill campaign. That’s around the same number of homeless, adoptable dogs that are euthanized in shelters every year, she said.

Christmas is an especially popular time for puppy purchases, and around now—late January, early February—says Kahn, “We tend to see a flood of puppies being given up to shelters by owners. A lot of them end up in shelters because having a puppy is like having a child. They’re a lot of work. You have to train them. They’re up every few hours at night when they’re young.” (Sixty percent of dogs in shelters were surrendered by owners. The rest are strays—abandoned by individual owners or puppy mills, or the offspring of the abandoned.) If everyone listened to the Humane Society and Animal Planet’s pleas to adopt dogs rather than buying them—or, if you insist on paying for a dog, using responsible breeders—then it would not only put puppy mills out of business, but possibly solve the crisis of dog overpopulation in America.

There’s a reason, though, that it’s not called the “Dog Bowl”: We are not nearly as obsessed with dogs in general as we are with puppies, and it stands to reason that Puppy Bowl viewers would crave ownership of a puppy, specifically. But most dogs, in shelters or elsewhere, are not puppies for a simple biological reason. “Lest we forget, puppies grow up,” Kahn, who has never seen the Puppy Bowl, says. “At some point they won’t be little tiny and cute.” That’s easy to forget when you’re strolling around your local mall, looking for a gift for your teenage daughter or newlywed husband, or not looking for anything at all, and you pass a puppy bowl of a different sort—a glass tank with cedar shavings scattered thinly across the floor. Your human eyes meet a puppy’s eyes. In that moment, for reasons evolutionary or cultural or some combination thereof, it’s all over. You are sold. As Berry says, “I don’t know anyone who could not smile looking at a pile of puppies.”

What to Expect From Keyboard Cat’s Puppy Bowl Halftime Show

Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are set to play this Sunday's Super Bowl halftime show, and while they're sure to deliver a phenomenal performance, fans who don't want to get locked out of kitty heaven ought to switch over to Animal Planet, where Internet-famous feline Keyboard Cat is playing the 10th annual Puppy Bowl.

Backstage this past weekend at Los Angeles's Internet Cat Video Film Festival, the cat of the hour himself spoke to Yahoo Music (via his interpreter/owner, Charlie Schmidt) about just what to expect when the fur flies this Sunday afternoon.

"Keyboard Cat's going to perform live, a Bruno Mars song, 'Locked Out of Heaven.' He's going to wear a little Bruno hat, and he's just gotten his licks totally down. In the foreground, it's just Keyboard Cat wearing his cool blue shirt and his Bruno Mars hat and doing his thing, just hitting the ivories hard. He really knows and feels this music! And then in the background there will be a cheerleader sort of thing with real penguins, and then another cat's going to parachute into the arena."

Whoa. And if penguin cheerleaders and a parachuting cat aren't enough to persuade you to touch that dial, the Puppy Bowl halftime show will also feature a pyramid of 30 live kittens and via-satellite participation from another one of the Interweb's most beloved cats, Lil' Bub.

"On the other halftime show with Bruno Mars — or the other Bruno Mars — they added Red Hot Chili Peppers just last week, because they were feeling the heat when we announced that Keyboard Cat was going to be on," Charlie bragged.

Keyboard Cat, whose real name is Bento, already has five albums on iTunes and cites French composer Erik Satie, No Wave legend James Chance, the Velvet Underground's John Cale, and shock-rockers Gwar as musical influences. (Ironically, there was a grass-roots online campaign to get Gwar to play the Super Bowl. Perhaps they can back up Bento at the Puppy Bowl instead?) But Bento's biggest influence is probably the original Keyboard Cat, aka Fatso, who died in 1987, two whole decades before his vintage video — shot by Charlie in '84 — hit YouTube and racked up almost 35 million views.

And perhaps Fatso's legacy is a larger one to live up to than Bruno's. How does Bento deal with all that pressure? "It's pressure on all of us, really. It's pressure on him, on me…it's pressure on the public to respond, you know?" mused Charlie. "But fortunately, people love him, because he makes them happy."

Puppy Bowl X airs on Animal Planet this Sunday opposite Super Bowl XLVIII, then will re-air five more times. So expect Keyboard Cat 2.0 to rack up millions of additional views this weekend.

When Is The Puppy Bowl And Where Can I Watch?

The Puppy Bowl airs every year on Super Bowl Sunday. The 2021 Puppy Bowl can be viewed on Animal Planet on Sunday, February 7th starting at 2pm ET.

You can also sign in on Animal Planet’s live stream online if you have a cable provider or on discovery+. You can use your cable subscription to watch on iPhone, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Xbox, and Android.

(Picture Credit: Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If you don’t have a cable subscription and still want your Puppy Bowl fix, don’t worry. You can go to Animal Planet’s website and watch clips from previous years and promotional videos for this year’s event for free. You can also check out some highlights from past years on YouTube.

Will you be watching the Puppy Bowl instead of the Super Bowl? Are you looking forward to all the cuteness? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch the video: Puppy Bowl (October 2021).

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