What’s Next for Puppies After the Puppy Bowl? Adopters Share Their Stories Before the 2024 Game

What’s Next for Puppies After the Puppy Bowl? Adopters Share Their Stories Before the 2024 Game

Maddux, who was a young star on Team Ruff and later became a coach, is now set to be one of the four players entering the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame this Sunday.

Maddux, known as Bubba during his time in Puppy Bowl XI, found his permanent home on the day of the 2015 Puppy Bowl filming. This year’s Puppy Bowl will showcase 131 puppies up for adoption from 73 shelters and rescues.

From Shelter to Puppy Bowl Maddux, or Bubba, was initially found abandoned in an apartment with his siblings, says his owner, Michelle Maskaly. She met him while volunteering at Florida Little Dog Rescue during the 2015 Puppy Bowl filming.

“I took this one dog, who turned out to be Bubba, out of his crate that morning and I thought, ‘Wow, this dog is so cute. I love him,’” Maskaly recalls.

He was a star on the Puppy Bowl field, scoring multiple touchdowns. He was also a strong defensive player, says Maskaly. She adopted him on the day of the Puppy Bowl and renamed him Maddux, after baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. The Chihuahua-Terrier mix, now 9 years old, is still active and enjoys running and playing on agility equipment.

“He’s a great cuddler,” Maskaly says. “He’s very understanding and he’s very perceptive.”

Maddux is excited to eat pupcakes shaped like footballs on the day of the Puppy Bowl.

Getting Ready for the Puppy Bowl

Florida Little Dog Rescue, where Maddux came from, has been participating in the Puppy Bowl for many years, says rescue director Laurie Johnson. Before the big game, a trainer works with the puppies from the rescue to help them get used to lights and sounds.

“We want the puppies to have a great time when they go, so we work hard with them beforehand to make sure they’re used to that,” Johnson explains.

Dash, left, and Taylor, right, will both participate in this year’s Puppy Bowl. They’re among a group of seven puppies participating from Florida Little Dog Rescue. Image Credit: CBS/LAURIE JOHNSON

While they’re not specifically trained to score touchdowns, which happens when puppies carry toys into the end zone, one puppy from Florida Little Dog Rescue has learned a football trick. Taylor, a Shih Tzu during her Puppy Bowl days, has learned to ring a bell when she hears “touchdown!” This puppy, one of seven from Florida Little Dog Rescue participating in this year’s game, is named after Taylor Swift. She even has a Chiefs jersey.

What You Need to Know About the 2024 Puppy Bowl

This year’s Puppy Bowl, which airs on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m., is Puppy Bowl XX. The puppies are divided into two teams: Team Fluff and Team Ruff. The players in this year’s game range in size from Sweetpea, who weighs 1.7 pounds, to Levi, a 70-pound Great Dane.

The players compete for the “Lombarky” trophy, and each year, one puppy is named MVP — Most Valuable Puppy. Referee Dan Schachner will be assisted by Whistle, a “ruff-eree” who will help Schachner call the plays and fumbles.

The show will be broadcast on Animal Planet, Discovery, TBS, truTV, Max, and Discovery+ before the Super Bowl. Fans of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes might recognize some names; Bark Purdy, a Chihuahua mix, will be playing for Team Ruff this year, while Patrick Mabones, a hound mix, will be playing for Team Fluff.

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Penalties can be given for “unnecessary roughness and “paw interference.” Johnson remembers one puppy, Mr. Wigglesworth, who got a penalty for sleeping too much on the field.

It’s a day of cute viewing for fans and fun for the dogs.

“They see it as ‘Wow, it’s a big playgroup, we’re going to have so much fun,’” Johnson says. “It’s like taking your child to Chuck E. Cheese.”

Adoption and the Puppy Bowl

The Puppy Bowl allows viewers to learn about puppies from shelters and rescues across the country while enjoying exciting puppy plays. Animal rescue workers believe the event helps potential adopters see the wide range of dogs that need permanent homes.

“They aim to show that you can find a golden retriever, a corgi, a chihuahua mix, a lab mix, a beagle, or a Great Dane,” said Johnson. “You can find all kinds of dog breeds—purebred, mixed, and designer—in rescue. You just need to wait patiently.”

Chester will play in Puppy Bowl XX while Clara played in Puppy Bowl XV. Image Credit: CBS/LAURIE JOHNSON

Johnson’s corgi, Clara, participated in Puppy Bowl XV and had a lot of fun with the water bowl. Johnson was fostering Clara but decided to adopt her. Clara is also going to be inducted into the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame this year.

Maskaly sees Maddux as a representative. She mentioned that people often approach her to inquire about Maddux and are surprised to learn he’s a rescue dog. Maskaly continues to volunteer at the Puppy Bowl, which mainly involves cleaning up after the dogs on the game day. However, Maskaly loves the opportunity to draw attention to dogs that need homes.

“Playing a small role in that, helping to draw attention to them, is what I enjoy most,” she said.

Maddux played in the 2015 Puppy Bowl. Image Credit: CBS/MICHELLE MASKALY

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